If you’re looking for a Christmas-worthy soup that is both more impressive AND easier than the classic Red Borscht – let me introduce you to this Polish Mushroom Soup (‘Grzybowa’, pron.: gzhe-bova; also known as… ‘Mushroom Borscht’).
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.
Following the tradition, this festive Mushroom Soup is completely meat-free. Instead, it’s brewed on dried mushrooms (soaked the night before) and an array of root vegetables.
Most of the old recipes for this soup are very similar. None of them include any dairy (no cream, no milk), as it wasn’t allowed on the days of religious fast.
But what they all have in common the key ingredients: boletes and/or bay boletes. They lend richness and that characteristic savoury, earthy aroma.
For more of the Polish festive delicacies, have a look at this Christmas recipe collection.
Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Polish Christmas Mushroom Soup?
Yes, I’m afraid so. And unless you’re a mushroom-picker yourself, it can get a bit pricey.
🇵🇱 In Poland, mushroom foraging is a bit of a sport. It’s exciting, like a treasure hunt.
Even if you don’t take part – there’s always an auntie, a colleague or a neighbour who does. And more often than not, they’re willing to share.
In fall, freshly picked mushrooms are available at farmer’s markets and produce stalls. Before Christmas, most supermarkets are well stocked with a selection of dried and frozen wild mushrooms.
🌍 Internationally, mushrooms tend to be tricker to pick up. Many forests are private – or with significant restrictions. The mushrooms differ geographically as well, what grows in Poland won’t necessarily grow elsewhere.
Luckily, dried mushrooms show up online from time to time (here’s a pack from Amazon). You can also ask in specialty stores or at a Polish deli. You can try experimenting with your local mushrooms as well.
How should you serve this Polish Mushroom Soup?
On Christmas Eve, Mushroom Soup is often served with ‘łazanki’ – square shaped noodles. They’re similar in appearance to the Italian quadretti pasta. You could also serve it with kluski noodles (warning: eggs in this recipe), little ‘uszka’ dumplings or another noodle of your choice.
‘Grzybowa’ acts as a starter and therefore it’s served on its own, without any sides. Otherwise, you would spoil your appetite; and there are plenty of other dishes to try later on.
If you’re cooking the soup on another day and wish for a more filling meal, a few slices of fresh bread compliment it well. Drink-wise, this Mushroom Soup pairs nicely with earthy red wine (dry or semi-dry).
Can you make this Christmas Mushroom Soup another way?
Yes. Here’s what you could do differently:
- If you don’t follow a meat-free diet, feel free to add some poultry (legs, wings, carcasses) and/or beef (e.g ribs) to the mushrooms and cook it all together. I tried it with smoked ham hocks once, it was delicious.
- To make the soup more creamy, you can add a dollop of sour cream at the very end. Warning: that’s dairy, so it’s not Christmas Eve-friendly.
What diets is this Polish Mushroom Soup suitable for?
This soup is suitable for a vegan diet. Just like all of the recipes for a Polish Christmas Eve, this recipe is free of meat, dairy and eggs.
The soup itself is gluten-free, but you’ll have to swap the classic noodles for a gluten-free version.
How long can you keep this Christmas Mushroom Soup in the fridge?
This Polish Mushroom Soup tastes best when hot. Once it’s served, ideally you should eat it within 3-4 hours.
To store any leftovers, refrigerate it in a container with a lid. You can keep it in the fridge for around 3 days or so.
Can I freeze this Polish Mushroom Soup?
Yes, this recipe can be frozen. Move the soup into a freezer-friendly container and freeze it as soon as it’s cold enough to do so. Remember to label the box with a description and a date.
How do I reheat this Christmas Mushroom Soup?
From chilled: Place the soup in a microwave-friendly container and cover loosely with a lid. Heat for 4to 7 minutes until hot throughout.
From frozen: Allow to thaw first. Heat in the microwave(covered) for 3 to 5 minutes, then open and stir. Careful, it’s going to be hot! Next, continue cooking for another 5 minutes until hot throughout.
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