Zurek, or rye sour soup, is a traditional Polish staple. The Polish word “zur” (hence, Zurek) comes from the middle German word “sur” – which means “sour”. Similar to other Northern Slavic countries, fermented rye flour or bread is used to make soups. The result is a nutty, slightly sour flavor that lends itself to a hearty and flavorful soup. Zurek is typically eaten at Easter but is popular year-round in restaurants and homes around the country. The soup is characterized by its smoky and deep flavor as a result of the smoked sausage and bacon added to the dish, although specific recipes vary from region to region. Serve with a hardboiled egg (learn how to cook the perfect hard-boiled egg here) and some crusty bread (or better yet – in a bread bowl)!
3/4 cup rye flour
2 cups water, boiled and cooled to room temperature
1 large onion, roughly chopped
8 slices thick cut bacon, diced
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound smoked pork sausage
12 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
Parsley for garnish, if desired
Mix rye flour and water together well. Allow to sit in a warm area for 4-5 days, covered by cheese cloth or plastic wrap with small holes. This will ferment the rye flour (hence “sour” rye soup). Before use, skim mold off of the top, then whisk to combine well before using in the soup. The rye sour can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for an additional week.
Add the onion and bacon to a large, deep stock pot. Cook over medium heat for approximately 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the carrots and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
Add in the minced garlic, cooking for approximately one minute or until fragrant. Then add the sausage, broth, bay leaf, and oregano to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the sausage from the pot. Add the mushrooms, potatoes, and rye sour to the pot and allow to simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Slice the sausage and add back to the pot while the potatoes cook.
To each bowl, add 1.5 cups of the soup. Cut each hardboiled egg in half and place in the bowl. Garnish with parsley, if desired.