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Zurek & Zakwas

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Try your hand at this easy to make soup from Poland. You'll want to allow yourself 5 days in advance to start the Sour Rye starter, Zakwas. It's very easy to make so there's the good news. :) And the even better news, the soup itself is very easy to make.

Zurek (Pronounced Ju-rek)

Polish Sour Rye Soup

Serves 4-6

Start the Zakwas 5 days in advance

For the Zakwas:

  • 7 tbsp Rye Flour

  • 2 1/4 cups water plus additional 1/4 cup water separated

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 5 all-spice berries

  • 5 back peppercorns

  • 1 tsp dry marjoram


1. Bring 2 1/4 cups water to a rapid boil and allow to cool to a slightly warm temperature on the stove top. Meanwhile boil the 1/4 cup water.

2. In a sterilized dry jar, add the rye flour. Add the hot 1/2 cup water and stir until smooth. Add the cooled boiled water and stir until smooth. Add the garlic, herbs and spices. Give a quick stir.

3. Place a piece of paper towel over the mouth of the jar. Top with the lid but do not tighten the lid. The Zakwas needs to breathe. Leave somewhere in kitchen room temperature for 4-5 days until ready to make the Zurek.

For the Zurek:

  • 1/2 lb bacon, cut into small pieces

  • 2 lbs uncooked white sausage or kielbasa, cut into slices

  • 2 large onions, peeled and diced

  • 1/2 celery root, peeled and diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds

  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced into rounds

  • 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock, no sodium added

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 4-6 whole allspice berries

  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram

  • small handful black peppercorns

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or more, to taste

For the Garnish:


  • Prepared horseradish

  • Chopped pickles

  • Sour cream

  • Hardboiled eggs, halved

  • Dill


1. Place the diced bacon in a large stockpot. When fully rendered, transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. In the bacon fat, sear the sausage or kielbasa slices. Do not crowd the pot. If you must, sear the sausage in small batches and transfer to bowl with the rendered bacon.

2. To the same pot, add the onion, garlic and herbs and spices. When soft, add the carrots and parsnip rounds. When almost tender, transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and reserve. Drain any excess fat.

3. Add the zakwas to the pot, add the stock while stirring until smooth and velvety. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Return the rendered bacon, sausage and vegetables to the pot, simmer until tender. Adjust seasonings. When just about ready to serve, stir in the heavy cream to taste. Check seasonings one more time.

4. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread. Garnish soup tableside with ingredients above.

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