Żurek: Polish Sour Bread Soup

Klasyczny Żurek na Zakwasie

Polish żurek soup recipe

Żurek soup is truly unique – it’s not based on meat or vegetable broth. It’s heart is Zakwas – made from rye bread and water. If you cannot imagine its flavour, you could compare it to sourdough.

Pre-made zakwas is sold in bottles – in Poland it’s widely available in grocery shops.  Abroad it can be found in speciality “world food” markets.

But if you don’t have access to it – fear not. Zakwas can be made at home. Prepare it a few days before you plan on cooking żurek, as it needs time to develop.

Polish Żurek: Traditional Easter Soup

Also known as: Polish rye soup, Sour bread soup

Course Soup
Cuisine Polish
To make zakwas 4 days
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 servings


For the zakwas

  • 0.5 cup rye flour 115g
  • 1 cup rye bread crusts 200-250g
  • 2 garlic minced cloves
  • 2 cups water 500ml, warm

For the soup

  • 1.3 lb biała kiełbasa 600g, white sausage
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 allspice whole
  • 3 dry mushrooms
  • 2 cups zakwas 500ml
  • 4 eggs
  • marjoram to taste
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp sour cream to season, optional


For the zakwas

  1. Prepare a large jar (1 litre/33.8 ounces or larger) with a hermetic seal - just like those used for preserves. Place all of the ingredients inside and store away in a cupboard for a few days. Stir the mixture every day.

  2. Day 4 or 5: open the jar. If any mold has formed - remove it. Strain. The liquid that remains is our zakwas. 

  3. To make żurek soup, we need 500ml (2 cups) of zakwas. If you have any left over - store it in a closed jar for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

For the soup

  1. Boil 2 litres (0.5 gallon) of water. Add sausage to the boiling water, season with garlic pressed through the press. 

  2. Add the bay leaf, allspice, pepper and dried mushrooms. Reduce the heat and cook 15-20 minutes.

  3. Remove the sausage from water and set aside. Drain our broth with a sieve. Put dried mushrooms aside.

  4. Add zakwas to the broth. Season with marjoram, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat.

  5. Hard boil the eggs. Leave them to cool, peel and cut into quarters. Cut the sausage into slices, and cut finely the mushrooms. 

  6. Pour żurek onto a soup plate. Add sausage pieces, chopped mushrooms and an egg quarter. Season with a tablespoon of sour cream.

Photo by Benreis licenced under CC BY-SA 4.0, from Wikimedia Commons

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Kasia Kronenberger
Cześć, I’m Kasia.

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