Traditional Polish Żurek – the best soup from Poland.

by Jan Vasil
Traditional Polish Żurek - the best soup from Poland.

The Rich History of Polish Żurek: A Culinary Journey

When I think about Polish soup, Polish Żurek is the first thing that comes to my mind. Slightly sour, served with white sausage, and actually not that hard to do. It’s definitely one of my favorite East European soups.

Little history lesson:

“Żurek” is one of the oldest dishes from Śląsk (Silesia) – the voivodeship in Poland. It basically means sour, ensiled.

This name for the first time was used in the XV century. Polish farmers had even a special pot to cook this particular soup. Now Polish Żurek is a traditional soup served at Easter time.

There are also many legends about how Żurek was discovered. One of them is a story about a woman who didn’t know what to cook for dinner so she put everything she had into a pot. She forgot about it and for a few days she felt a sweet-sour smell from this pot – that inspired her to create a soup.

Customizing Your Żurek: Variations and Modern Twists

While the traditional Żurek is a classic, don’t be afraid to add your own twist to it. Some people enjoy adding a bit of smoked bacon for an extra depth of flavor, or experimenting with different types of sausage.

Vegetarians can even replace the meat with mushrooms for a hearty, meat-free version.

Pairing Żurek with Other Polish Delicacies

Żurek pairs wonderfully with a variety of Polish dishes. For a truly authentic experience, serve it with a side of pierogi or a slice of fresh, crusty bread. As for drinks, a light Polish beer or a glass of kompot can complement the soup’s rich flavors perfectly.

Żurek in Polish American Homes: Adapting Tradition

In Polish American homes, Żurek is more than just a soup; it’s a cherished tradition. Many families have their own unique recipe passed down through generations, adapting to the ingredients available in America while keeping the essence of this beloved dish.

It’s a beautiful way to stay connected to Polish heritage while embracing the diverse culinary landscape of America.

My Tips on Making Tasty Żurek

  1. Start with a Good Sour Rye Base: The secret to a great Żurek is in the sour rye soup base. Allow it to ferment for a few days for the best flavor.
  2. Use Quality Sausage: Opt for high-quality white sausage, as it significantly influences the taste of your Żurek.
  3. Simmer Slowly: Let the soup simmer gently. Rushing the cooking process can affect the flavors.
  4. Balance the Sourness: Adjust the sourness with a bit of cream or a pinch of sugar if needed.

What Ingredients to Use for Good Żurek

  • Sour Rye Flour: Essential for the soup base.
  • White Sausage: A traditional and flavorful component.
  • Vegetables: Commonly potatoes, carrots, and sometimes onions.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs: Served sliced in the soup.

What Spices to Add to Żurek

  1. Marjoram: A must-have for authentic flavor.
  2. Bay Leaves: For a subtle depth.
  3. Allspice: Adds a warm, peppery note.
  4. Garlic: For a bit of sharpness and aroma.

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Traditional Polish Żurek – the best soup from Poland.

Traditional Polish Żurek Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Jan Vasil Course: Recipe book, DinnerCuisine: PolishDifficulty: Easy


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A very traditional Polish sour rye soup with white sausage and smoked ham.

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  • 300 g 2/3 lb of smoked bacon or smoked meat

  • 4 pcs 4 pcs white raw sausages

  • 3 pcs 3 pcs medium carrots

  • 1 small celery root

  • 1 parsley

  • 500ml sour rye flour starter

  • 100ml of double cream (at least with 30% fat)

  • 1 tablespoon of dried marjoram

  • 30g of flour

  • 10-15 whole black pepper seeds

  • 1 tablespoon of salt

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 2 onions

  • Optionally: 4 hard boiled eggs

  • Optionally: 6-8 potatoes


  • The Base: Peel the carrots, parsley, and celery root and place them in a bigger pot. Chop finely the onions and the garlic and add to the pot. Pour over with 2 liters of fresh cold water and bring to a boil. Then add the smoked bacon (or meat) and the raw white sausages. Season with salt and crushed black pepper seeds. Simmer for at least 2 hours. Then take out the vegetables, the bacon, and the sausages and set aside.
  • Then add the sour rye flour starter and the dried marjoram. Pour approximately 100ml of the soup into a smaller bowl, and add the double cream and the flour. Mix well until well combined and then pour back into the soup. This step is very important as if you would add the double cream directly into the hot soup, it would get watery and very sour.
  • Cut the white sausages and the smoked bacon into smaller pieces and place them back to the soup.
  • Serve with fresh bread.


  • The key to a good zurek is to use raw (non-cooked or boiled) white sausages. They are more aromatic and add great taste to the soup.
  • Optionally you can add 1 halved hard-boiled egg to each serving.
  • When you want to make your soup “thicker” you can add peeled and roughly chopped potatoes approximately 30 minutes before the end of cooking.
  • You can store the soup in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze it for later.
  • The sour rye flour starter (ZUR) should be available in every good Polish grocery store or bigger supermarkets with European cuisine.
  • Also, make sure that when you will use the sour rye flour starter, you shake well the bottle before pouring it into the soup. The flour at the bottom has to be mixed well.

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What is Polish Żurek?

Polish Żurek is a traditional sour rye soup known for its unique flavor, often enriched with white sausage, potatoes, and boiled eggs. It’s a staple in Polish cuisine, especially during Easter.

How do you make the sour rye base for Żurek?

The sour rye base, or ‘zakwas’, is made by fermenting rye flour with water and sometimes garlic and bread crusts. It needs to ferment for several days to develop the right sourness.

Can I make Żurek vegetarian?

Yes, you can make a vegetarian version of Żurek by omitting the sausage and using vegetable broth. Mushrooms can be a great addition to add depth to the flavor.

How long can I store Żurek?

Żurek can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. It’s important to store it in an airtight container. You can also freeze it for longer storage.

What are the best sides to serve with Żurek?

Żurek is often served with bread, particularly a hearty rye bread. It can also be paired with boiled potatoes or a simple green salad for a complete meal.

Traditional Polish Żurek - the best soup from Poland.
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Traditional Polish Żurek - the best soup from Poland.
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Nadine Krukowski April 6, 2021 - 10:27 pm

What are white sausages and where can you buy them?

tasteisyours April 7, 2021 - 11:08 am

Dear Nadine. The white sausage is basically a sausage that is not smoked but only steamed. Hence the white colour. And where you can buy it? It really depends on your location. But I would definitely recommend a Polish store or a store with East European food. Jan


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