07 November 2010

Żurek, My Love

I have fallen in love. About three days into our time in Poland, I decided to give my barszcz (borscht) consumption a rest, fearing my appendages would soon turn fuchsia. While I love mushroom soup, it's hard to consistently pick out of a 'zupy' line up. Imagine if you didn't speak English and learned the word "mushroom" and then were given menu after menu that read portobello, crimini, shiitake, hen-of-the-wood, oyster, etc, never actually using the word "mushroom." So, I tried out żurek and never turned back.
So, what is żurek? It's "sour rye soup." You have to combine rye flour, warm water and garlic and let it sit in a jar for a few days, to let it sour, before you can make soup with it. Sorta like the kombucha of soups. It's brothy and garlicky and salty. Obviously, it's sour. The best way I can describe the taste is to imagine sucking on a big slab of rye bread that's been dunked into some good and cloudy white miso soup. Sorta kinda.
The best part about żurek is that it almost always contains half a hardboiled egg or - in very special instances, of which I've had two - BOTH halves of a hardboiled egg. Most often you can order it with or without chopped up kielbasa. When I haven't been able to specify 'sausage-less,' it's been easy enough to just eat the rest up and leave the flesh behind.
Merlin has been more than happy to clean the rest of my bowl like a happy dog at the foot of a dinner table. (Sorry for the comparison, honey, but it just worked too well to pass up).
We found this instant żurek at the supermarket and tried it out in our hotel room on a rainy day, adding water from our plug-in kettle. I can't say it was half-bad. In fact, it was more than half-good, but mostly tasted like garlic powder water with croutons. I fully intend to master the art of żurek-making and have it be part of my soup repertoire. My maternal grandmother's family was Polish and I think it would be fun to have my future kiddies grow up eating żurek. Spoonfuls of heritage.

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