Yesterday I told you about eating Kielbasa sausages on a mock pirate ship in Gdynia harbour - well, this was the starter and I think it is probably the most delicious and satisfying bowl of soup I've ever eaten. The Polish hosts said it was a typical Polish soup and everybody had to at least taste it - in the end, everyone devoured every spoonful and mopped up the last drops with bread !
The name Zurek comes from zur (sour) because the base for this soup is made by fermenting rye flour with water. To me, it didn't taste sour though - more like it had a hint of mustard in it. I'm not sure what was floating on the top but it's not in the ingredients list - maybe a hint of pesto or basil, but I'm not sure.
Zurek - sour rye soup
300g root vegetables, peeled and chopped (carrots, parsnips, celery root, leeks ...)
500g potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups water
250g Polish sausage (kielbasa biala)
2 cups ryemeal sour (3/4 cup rye flour + 2 cups water, boiled and cooled to lukewarm)
1 heaped tbsp flour mixed with 4 tbsp water
1 clove of garlic, crushed, with 1/2tsp salt
3 hard-boiled eggs
Mix together the rye flour with lukewarm water, pour it into a glass jar or ceramic bowl that is large enough for the mixture to expand, cover with cheesecloth or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 4 to 5 days. This should make 2 cups or enough for the soup. (This can be kept, covered, in the fridge for up to a week.)
Peel and chop the root vegetables and cook them for 30 minutes in a large soup pot. Add the sausage, bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove the sausage from the soup, slice when cool enough to handle, and reserve. Strain the stock through a sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much flavour as possible. Discard the vegetables, skim the fat off the stock, and return the stock to the soup pot.
Whisking constantly, add the flour-water mixture, sliced sausage and garlic-salt paste. Bring the soup to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender. Serve with half a hard-boiled egg in each bowl, and rye bread on the side.
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