This recipe for Polish ryemeal soup with sausage, known as żurek (ZHOO-rrek), is from chef Marek (Mark) Widomski, founder and director of the Culinary Institute in Cracow, Poland. It's typical of the "sour" soups beloved by many Eastern Europeans.
A żur (ZHOORR) or sour (also known as kwas), the base for this soup, is created by fermenting rye flour with water in a jar or crock for up to five days. So start the sour ahead of time!
In Poland, this is often served before obiad (the main meal of the day) or as a hangover cure.
- Ryemeal Sour (Żur or Kwas)
- 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 (biały kiełbasa)
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups ryemeal sour (see above)
- 1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour mixed with 4 tablespoons water
- 1 garlic clove crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt to make a paste
- 3 large hard-cooked eggs (optional)
Make the Ryemeal Sour
- In a medium bowl, mix together rye flour with lukewarm water. Pour into a glass jar or ceramic bowl that is large enough for the mixture to expand. Cover with cheesecloth and let stand in a warm place for 4 to 5 days.
- This should make 2 cups or enough for the soup. If the sour isn't used immediately, it can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make the Soup
- In a large soup pot, bring soup vegetables and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
- Add sausage, return to the boil, reduce heat and cook 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 a clean soup pot.
- 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, reserved sliced cooked 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 with half a hard-cooked egg in each serving (if desired), and rye bread on the side.