Soured rye zurek in a traditional bread bowl

Soured rye zurek in a traditional bread bowl

80 mins
Laura Edwards

This is a typical Easter soup; we eat it for Easter Sunday breakfast (more of a brunch really). I remember once staying in a B&B run by nuns in the Polish mountains and they served this every morning – which was a great way to start a 12-hour hike!

This is a soup for when you’re feeling brave and experimental, it is an unusual recipe because you make soured rye (żur) for the base. You can buy this in most Polish shops although it is easy to make. Ideally you would use Polish white sausage for this, but I’ve found good Cumberland sausages work very well as a replacement.


Quantity Ingredient

For the soured rye

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons rye flour
400ml warm water
1 garlic clove, crushed slightly with the side of a knife

For the soup

Quantity Ingredient
1 onion
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 celeriac
2 sausages
1 bay leaf
1 boletus mushroom, (optional)
2 litres water
4 tablespoons brine from a jar of gherkins, (optional)
2 rashers bacon, cut into strips
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
100ml single cream
plenty salt
plenty white pepper
large bread rolls, to use as bowls


  1. First prepare your soured rye. Mix together the rye flour, warm water and crushed garlic in a glass jar until thoroughly combined. Cover the top of the jar with a cloth and leave in a warm place in your kitchen for 5 days to sour. Give it a stir once every day.
  2. To make the soup, you can char the onion on a stove to give it an additional smoky flavour. Or you can simply add all the vegetables into a large pan with 1½ sausages, bay leaf, boletus mushroom (if using), marjoram and (charred or uncharred) onion. Add the water and bring to a boil and then simmer over a medium heat for 1 hour.
  3. Strain the soup into a clean pan, reserving the sausages (discard the vegetables). Add the soured rye, brine juice (if using) and return the soup to the stove. Simmer gently for about 5–10 minutes, stirring often, and checking for seasoning.
  4. Meanwhile, roughly chop the reserved ½ sausage. Fry the chopped bacon and sausages together in a frying pan for about 5 minutes, until crisp.
  5. Add a tablespoon of the hot soup to the cream to prevent it from curdling, then add the cream to the soup. Taste the soup and check again for seasoning.
  6. The traditional way to eat this soup is in a large, round, crusty roll that has been hollowed out, topped with fried bacon and lardons. Make sure you don’t hollow the rolls out too much – as it’s utterly delicious to get mouthfuls of seeped-through bread.
eastern european
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