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How to make the base for ‘zurek’ soup

As you probably know, ‘zurek’ (or white borscht) is a sour soup that is very popular in some Slavic countries – also in Poland. The two soups – white borscht and zurek – differ a little bit in recipe, however, in some of regions the two taste similarly therefore the names are used in exchange.

The ones of you that read recipe for the soup (or simply know it) are aware that cooking white borscht requires a specific base that one may buy in most of the shops in Poland. For those who do not have that possibility (or just prefer to make the soup from the scratch) I present the recipe for the base.
To prepare the base for the soup you need:

• 3 full table spoons of rye flour (although one of the traditions allows to use ‘zurek’ and white borscht names in exchange, the real white borscht should be made of wheat flour) – the thicker milled the better – in some of the shops you can find ‘zur’ flour prepared specifically for making the base for that soup
• Small crust of bread
• 3-4 cloves of garlic (cut at least in two)
• 0.5 liter of water (boiled previously and cooled)

Put all the ingredients into a jar and keep it for 4 to 5 days in a kitchen (do not keep it in a fridge!) – or simply in room temperature. During summer (when it is warmer) it may take less time for the base to get ready.

As it was mentioned in the recipe for ‘zur’, the soup is especially popular during Easter holidays. It is actually the most popular hot dish among Lenten fare. To make it real Easter soup, the Poles add to it eggs and sausage that were previously blessed by the priest in the church. As the blessing takes place on Holy Saturday, the soup is a part of Sunday’s main meal.

Zurek has a very specific taste (it is sour) therefore not all of you may like it. As the red borscht – eaten traditionally during Christmas period – has also sour taste, it might be the reason why the both soups share the first part of their names. But of course you can prepare the soup according to your own personal taste. The more base you add, the more sour the soup is – that is how you may control the taste of white borscht.

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