Our leaving present when we came home from Poland last week was a bottle of plum liqueur and a bottle of rye sour, the soup base for making zurek, the soup that we had sampled in the pirate ship restaurant in Gdynia. I couldn't wait to try a homemade version and I made a few tweaks - it worked really well. The original recipe that I shared tells you how to make the rye sour from scratch (it's basically just flour and water that is left to ferment for a few days). The bottled version is a handy shortcut though.
My version of zurek
root veg (2 parsnips, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks)
2 large potatoes
2 bay leaves
garlic pepper, black onion seeds, smoked paprika
a bottle of rye sour (or make your own)
kielbasa (Polish sausage)
hard-boiled eggs (optional)
Put the peeled and chopped (or frozen) root veg on to boil. The original recipe says to use these to create stock then throw them away, but that seemed like a waste to me so I decided to leave them in the finished soup. I'd say it's even better than the original.
Meanwhile hardboil some eggs (one per person).
Scrub (but don't peel) and chop the potatoes. Peel and chop the onions.
Throw the potatoes and onions into the pot. Season with the herbs and spices. Pour in the rye sour. (Make sure you shake well so that the flour doesn't stay at the bottom. It smells/tastes a bit yeasty/vinegary rather than sour and is what gives zurek its unmistakable flavour.)
Leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes start to get soft (but are not completely cooked). Chop the kielbasa and add to the pot. Top up with water if necessary.
Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes until the soup has thickened and the potatoes are totally cooked through.
Peel and halve the boiled eggs and put them in the bottom of the soup bowls.
Pour the soup on top of the eggs. It's a really hearty soup so you probably won't need bread with it, but if you do want some, rye bread would be the perfect accompaniment.
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Fancy trying out some more Polish cuisine? How about Bigos,Pierogi, Zurek, Golabki or Kielbasa, Spinach & Potato Fry Up?