Chrzanowa: Polish Horseradish Soup with Bacon & Egg

Zupa Chrzanowa

Zupa Chrzanowa (pron.: zoo-pah hshanova) is a zingy, sharply piquant horseradish soup; balanced with calming, velvety heavy cream.

At many Polish homes, when it comes to plan Easter menu, it’s the default choice to start the meal. Horseradish Soup wakes up your taste buds and boosts your appetite for the rest of the Easter feast. 

Garnished with an egg and fried bacon, Chrzanowa not only tastes great, but also looks elegant and inviting. 

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

Depending on the region, its name and ingredients differ slightly. At times, it’s very close to Żurek or Biały Barszcz, but with a strong horseradish kick. Other traditional recipes call for liquid whey (serwatka) or Soured Cream (zsiadłe mleko).

Do you need any special ingredients or equipment?

Most of the ingredients for this Horseradish Soup should be available in any major supermarket. The only troublesome ingredients might be:

Prepared (Grated) Horseradish

It’s a condiment based on grated horseradish, with a touch of acidity – either from lemon juice or vinegar. It’s commonly sold in jars, in the condiments section of the store. Always read the label – the ingredients list should be as short as possible. 

As always, homemade is best. Here’s a Prepared Horseradish recipe (from simplyrecipes.com) you can make yourself at home.

Celeriac & Parsley roots

These two veggies are the most notorious troublemakers when it comes to shopping for Polish ingredients. You could try to replace them with turnips and celery stalks. If in doubt, refer back to this post on finding substitutes.

Equipment

Equipment-wise, you’ll need:

  • sharp knife and cutting board
  • frying pan/skillet, a medium-sized cooking pot
  • immersion (hand-held) blender; or alternatively – blender/food processor

What to serve it with?

In Małopolska (Lesser Poland) and in some other Polish regions, Chrzanowa soup is served as an Easter starter. Luckily for us all, it’s also enjoyed nationwide and throughout the year, but especially in the colder months.

Serve it with:

  • freshly sliced bread on the side
  • eggs; most commonly boiled & halved, but also poached or fried (sunny-side up)
  • potatoes; boiled, mashed or baked (Hasselback potatoes look wonderful here)
  • white kiełbasa (sliced in rounds), or tiny meatballs

When pairing with spirits, Horseradish Soup goes well with a shot of classic Polish vodka.

Can you cook it another way?

Yes, here are some ideas on how to alter this recipe:

  • brew the stock on fresh white kiełbasa, smoked ribs or ham hocks
  • if you prefer sweeter soups, cook the stock with additional carrots
  • replace heavy cream with Soured Milk, buttermilk or liquid whey (serwatka)

What diets is this soup suitable for?

This recipe is suitable for a traditional diet.

It is also gluten-free; but if you’re using a ready-made grated horseradish from a jar, please read the label carefully.

How long can you keep it in the fridge?

‘Chrzanowa’ tastes best when served hot. Once it’s on the table, don’t keep it out for more than 3-4 hours.

Refrigerate any leftovers in a container with a lid for up to 3 days.

Can I freeze it?

Yes, you can freeze ‘Chrzanowa’, but please note:

  • the flavours won’t be as strong, if that happens – add more prepared horseradish while reheating
  • freeze it without eggs

To freeze this Horseradish Soup, let it cool completely. Next, move it over into a container suitable for freezing. Label it well with a description and a date, and consume within 3 months.

How do I reheat it?

From chilled

Pour the soup into a microwavable container, covering it loosely with a lid. Heat for 4-7 minutes. Alternatively, reheat it on the stove until hot throughout.

From frozen

Thaw the soup overnight. Pour it into a microwavable container and reheat (covered) for 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully remove from the microwave and stir. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until hot throughout.

You could also reheat it on the stove. Bring the soup into a boil, then reduce the heat and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes (on medium-low).

Zupa Chrzanowa - Polish Horseradish Soup with Bacon and Egg

Recipe: step by step

Polish horseradish soup - zupa chrzanowa - with bacon and boiled egg

Zupa Chrzanowa: Polish Horseradish Soup with Egg

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 7 oz (200 g) smoked bacon slab
  • 2 leeks (0.5 lb, 220-250 g)
  • 2 parsley roots (6 oz, 160-170 g); can be replaced with more celeriac, turnip or celery stalks
  • 2-3 small potatoes (6 oz, 160-170 g)
  • 2 medium onions (8.5 oz, 240 g), white or yellow
  • 0.5 celeriac/celery root (0.5 lb, 220-250 g, weighted before peeling)
  • 0.5 gallon water (8.5 cups; 2 litres) , can be substituted with unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 4 black peppercorns, whole
  • ¾ cup (200 ml) heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons horseradish, grated
  • Salt; for seasoning
  • Black pepper, freshly ground; for seasoning

Garnish

  • 4 eggs; boiled, poached or sunny side up
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, garden cress or green sprouts

Instructions

Frying bacon

  1. Place the bacon slab into the freezer for 15-20 minutes. It will firm up a bit, and therefore it will be much easier to slice.
  2. Pick up a razor-sharp knife. Retrieve the bacon slab from the freezer, cut off the tough skin and dice the bacon into cubes (roughly sized at 0.2-0.3’’; 5-7 mm per side). 
  3. Place a frying pan/skillet on the stove, throw the bacon in. Fry on medium heat until crispy and golden. Move the bacon pieces onto a plate lined with paper towel, but don’t clean the frying pan just yet.

Brewing stock

  1. Rinse, peel and chop all of the vegetables finely, cube the potatoes as well. Once you’re done, keep the potatoes aside (we’ll need them later, for step 1 of the 'Finishing touches'). 
  2. Drop the veggies (minus the potatoes) into the frying pan (the one we used for frying bacon). Fry on medium heat for a few minutes.
  3. Move the vegetables into a cooking pot, pour the water in. Add 1 teaspoon of marjoram, 2 dried bay leaves, 2 allspice berries and 4 black peppercorns. Cook for 30 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.

Finishing touches

  1. Fish out bay leaves, allspice berries and peppercorns. Add cubed potatoes and cook for another 20 minutes, until the potatoes soften. Next, blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth.
  1. In a small bowl or cup, stir the heavy cream together with 4 tablespoons of grated horseradish and a few tablespoons of blended soup. Return the mixture into the cooking pot and stir.
  2. Bring the soup to a near boil, then reduce the heat. Season with two generous pinches of salt and ground black pepper. Have a taste. Does your soup need more horseradish or seasoning? If so, add more. 
  3. Serve immediately with diced fried bacon and one egg per portion - sunny side up, poached or boiled & halved. Garnish with fresh marjoram, garden cress or green sprouts.
    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 213mgSodium: 913mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 9gSugar: 10gProtein: 20g

    Polish name:
    Pronunciation: zoopa hshanova
    Cuisine: Polish
    Region / Subregion: all-Polish
    Other traditional or regional names: Krzonówka, Chrzanówka
    Also known as (including misspellings):