Polish Easter Soup (Zurek)

I wanted to come up with a special Easter dish this year, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t use your standard Easter meal ideas; I’ve already posted recipes for ham and lamb roasts this year. Instead, I settled on a traditional Polish Easter Soup called Żurek (also often referred to as Biały Barszcz – “White Borscht”). This soup uses a combination of pork (kielbasa sausage, ham, or in our case, bacon), boiled eggs, and veggies in a slightly sour and creamy (hence the “white”) broth.

There are quite a few challenges with creating a grain-free version of this soup. First of all, the soup is traditionally made by soaking and fermenting/souring rye bread as a soup starter. Instead, we’re going to create a “sour” taste by using another popular method – horseradish and sour cream. Żurek is also traditionally served in a rye bread bowl or with large chunks of rye bread as an accompaniment. We’re just going to omit that whole rye bread part; it didn’t make this soup any less delicious!

You’ll Need: (serves four)
1 lb of either sugar/nitrate-free bacon ends or kielbasa sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb leftover ham or pork roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cups chicken stock/broth
4 cups water
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 celery root, peeled and chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp horseradish
4 hard-boiled eggs
1 cup sour cream

I chose to use bacon ends because I like their unpredictability; once cut into bite-sized pieces, you never really know what you’re going to bite into. US Wellness Meat’s sugar/nitrate-free bacon ends were perfect for this very reason.

Cut the bacon ends into bite-sized pieces, and warm up a dutch/french oven or large pot on medium heat. Sauté until the fat starts to become translucent and grease starts forming in the bottom of the pot, about five minutes.

Add the chopped onion and sauté for another six minutes, until the onions are softened. Add four cups each of chicken stock and of water, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and allow to gently simmer for 30 minutes.

Peel and cut your vegetables into bite-sized chunks. Keep your cut-up potatoes separate from the other veggies.

Add the veggies (minus the potatoes) to the soup and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Add the 1/2 lb. of ham/pork pieces during the last 10 minutes of simmering.

Once you add the veggies to the soup, put the potatoes in a separate pot and fill it with cold water. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Take half of the potatoes and a little warm water and blend them into a paste. Bring the heat up to med/low and stir the blended potatoes into the soup, stirring everything together until the blended potatoes mix with and thicken the soup. Add the horseradish and the non-blended potatoes, stir it gently together, and remove the soup from the heat.

Temper the sour cream by stirring in some of the soup broth into the sour cream before adding everything to the soup pot. Tempering will make sure the sour cream doesn’t curdle. Allow the soup to rest for a minute or two, then taste it and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve with halved hard-boiled eggs.

Featured on Easy Natural Food’s Sunday Night Soup Night

11 thoughts on “Polish Easter Soup (Zurek)

  1. My boyfriend’s family is Polish–I should make this for them when I visit on Easter weekend! : ) Looks like this adaptation remains faithful to the flavours of the dish, but takes it to better and more healthful places. Yum.

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      1. I wanted to ask if you have ever heard of using saurkraut and milk or cream to get the tart/creamy flavor the soup should have? When I was a little girl my Polish grandma would make the soup by boiling lightly rinsed saurkraut in the keilbasa broth until tender, then adding in the sliced kielbasa and sliced hard boiled eggs. The milk or cream would be added after the soup had cooled a little to keep it from curdling. We never put in potatoes, but that sounds like a great addition! After 35 years I have changed the recipe a bit, by using smoked ham hocks for the broth and oven roasting the kielbasa to keep the sausage flavor in the sausage, but I still think of my Babcia every Easter when I make it.

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  2. I’m having a really hard time commenting – for some reason, it keeps wanting to log me into a WordPress account that doesn’t belong to me. How can I tell you how droolworthy this is if I can’t comment? Waaaaahhhhh…

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  3. Yummy! I can’t think of anything in this soup that I wouldn’t like! Definitely pinned!
    Thanks for sharing this with Sunday Night Soup Night, look forward to seeing you again soon.

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  4. this is the best soup i’ve had!
    reminds me of the one my grandma used to make only during christmas when i was little.
    thank you for the recipe!

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