Recipe: zurek or Polish ryemeal soup

Zurek (zhoo-rek) is a traditional Polish ryemeal soup. This sour soup has a traditional Eastern European taste and is perfect for those cold nights. Containing meat, eggs and a variety of root vegetables, zurek is rich in protein and vital nutrients.  You will need first to prepare the ryemeal sour base, or “zur”, and leave for 4-5 days.


Ryemeal sour – Zur

3/4 cup rye flour

2 cups water, boiled and cooled to lukewarm


1/2 pound peeled and chopped soup vegetables (carrots, parsnips, celery root, leeks)

6 cups water

1/2 pound fresh (white) Polish sausage (kielbasa biala)

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups rye meal sour/zur (above)

1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour mixed with 4 tablespoons water

1 garlic clove crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large hard-cooked eggs (optional)


  1. To make the zur: combine rye flour and lukewarm water. Pour into a bowl that is large enough for the mixture to expand. Cover with cheesecloth and let sit in a warm, sunny place for 4 to 5 days. This should make approximately 2 cups, or at least enough for the soup. If the sour isn’t used immediately, it can be stored in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for up to a week.
  2. To make the soup: In a large soup pot, bring soup vegetables and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add sausage, return to the boil, reduce heat and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove sausage from soup, slice when cool enough to handle, and set aside. Strain stock through a sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard the vegetables, skim the fat off the stock, and return the stock to the soup pot.
  3. Add the potatoes and ryemeal sour to the stock, adding salt if necessary. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are al dente. Whisking constantly, add flour-water mixture, sliced sausage and garlic-salt paste. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender. Serve in heated bowls or bread bowls with half a hard-boiled egg in each serving (if desired), and rye bread on the side.

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