Żurek - Polish speciality with homemade sour rye soup starter- NOT only of Easter
Sour rye soup in Polish called ‘żur’ (or diminutive: 'żurek') is a soup made from fermented rye flour (similar to sourdough) with polish white sausage, bacon, mushrooms and vegetable, is a specialty eaten for Easter.
Its name comes from German language - 'sūr', meaning sour and it is a star not only in Poland but also in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Belarus.
Żurek is traditionally eaten for Easter, but I like to make it when it is very cold outside. During winter it is my go to dish, I make a lot of it and have lunch for 2 -3 days, it tastes especially exquisite after hiking, skiing and snowboarding day served in a loaf of bread or on top of boiled potatoes. In my opinion.
The soup varies from region to region for example in the Silesia region (Śląsk) - sour rye soup (żur śląski) is poured over mashed potatoes. In the Podlaski region, it is common to eat it with hard-boiled eggs. In Krakow, you can try Żurek Galicyjski. This recipe is a mix of all few regional flavors.
Read in 2h
If you will prepare you own Sour Rye Soup Starter you need to start 3-4 day earlier.
You do not have to make your own Sour Rye Soup Starter, you can buy it in Polish store, but make sure to look at the label. Some of them contain preservatives that you might not like to eat.
Take your time with this soup, it needs it. Simmer it and let all the flavors develop.
The taste of the soup will depend on your soup starter; on the flavor of your broth and on the ratio of the soup starter to the broth. So remember to taste it frequently. Do not pour all the soup starter into the full pot of broth, first mix 4 -5 cups of broth with your starter, then add more stock, according to your taste.
You can make this soup even if you do not have Polish store near you: instead of white sausage you can use bratwurst, you can buy polish sausage in any store, and you can make your soup starter.
Rye flour might be the hardest ingredient to buy (from my experience), but do not get discouraged, I found mine in Whole Foods, and was also able to get it in Mom's Organic Market.
You can also add peeled and chopped potatoes to you soup if you like.
Sour rye soup starter
0.5 pound of white sausage (or bratwurst)
0.3 pound of polish sausage
3-4 pieces of bacon
1 chopped onion
1 purple turnip
1 small onion
2 celery stick
1 clove of garlic
7-8 pieces of dry mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 1/2 tbsp marjoram
1 tbsp of horseradish
Garnish: 1-2 hard- boiled eggs, 2 medium sized boiled potatoes
STEP BY STEP
The soup requires you to make a few things at the same time, while one is cooking you will chop and fry other ingredients (the time does not add up with the overall time because you will do few things at the same time).
If you are making the Sour Rye Soup starter you need to start at least 3 days a head.
Start by soaking dry mushrooms in a cup of water for at least 30 min, and hard boiling the eggs.
For the broth: peel, wash all the vegetables and the garlic, pour 8 cups of water in a big pot. Add the white sausage, vegetables, some pepper and simmer for 45 min.
While broth is cooking, slice Polish sausage, chopped bacon and onion. Fry the bacon on a pan for 4-5 min and drain it on a paper towel. Leave some bacon fat on the pan and brown the polish sausage on it. When the sausage has color, put it aside, and fry the chopped onion.
Cook the mushrooms for 10-15 min. Next, cool them down and then chop, do not throw away the liquid. Cool down the eggs and then peel them.
Take the white sausage and vegetables out of the stock. Slice the sausage and the carrots. Discard the other vegetables. Strain the broth though a sifter.
When the white sausage cools down a bit, fry it on the pan for a few minutes to get some color on it.
Time to assemble all the prepared goodies: to half of the broth pour all the rye start, add all meats, fried onion, mushrooms and carrots, and 5 spoons of the mushroom liquid. Let it simmer for 10 min on small heat.
Mince the garlic into the soup, add marjoram, lemon juice, horseradish. TRY IT! And simmer for 30 min., on a small heat.
If it's too sour add a bit of the leftover stock - you have to play with the ratio of stock and soup starter - keep on trying the soup. If it needs salt, add it.
Serve it with bread or inside a bread, with the hard boiled eggs cut lengthwise (one egg per portion).
Other Polish soup: