5 Iconic Polish Soups You Have To Try
If you ever find yourself invited to a Polish dinner served in a traditional style, you’ll be most likely faced with a Polish soup as one of the two main courses. Same story if you go to a Polish wedding party, baptism dinner, First Communion dinner or if you happen to celebrate Christmas or Easter at a Polish house. According to a Polish study we consume 103 liters of soup per person each year. There’s one understandable reason for all this – we simply love soups. Oxtail soup, duck blood soup, crayfish soup or fruit soup – you name it, we have it all! But before you get to the more quirky ones, we suggest you explore some of the most iconic Polish soups with us. Here goes the list:
01. Rosół (chicken soup)
The one and only. The ultimate comfort food for cold days. Believed to cure any minor ailment or hangover. Most frequently served on Sunday. It requires a lot of cooking time though, since meat broth should simmer gently for a few hours. Note that in general making a Polish soup is time-consuming. Rosół broth is made of beef and chicken meat. More innovative versions contain pheasant or capon meat. Once you have the broth, you simply add mirepoix, spices, boil (or make, as our grandmothers used to!) some pasta and thinly chop parsley. There are a few tricks if you want to make the most fragrant rosół ever. One of them says that the meat should be placed in freezing water which allows meat to transmit all its flavor to the broth. Watch a video made by Piotr Ogiński, Polish Top Chef contestant, explaining how to make a perfect rosół.
02. Barszcz czerwony (beetroot soup)
Meatless Christmas Eve soup served with dumplings stuffed with cabbage and mushrooms. Beautifully colored, rich in flavor and made of one of the healthiest veggies in the world! What makes it even more special is the magic process of fermentation involved in the making. Beets must be left to ferment before they’re used for making the soup. Few days are enough. However, Aleksander Baron, one of the most interesting and prominent chefs in Poland, claims that you get the best flavor if you ferment beets for a year. That’s hard to orchestrate which is why we suggest you visit his restaurant (Solec 44) to taste his barszcz with carp dumplings, soft roe and dill.
03. Żurek / żur (sour rye soup)
Here comes another Polish dish based on… yes, fermentation! Two basic ingredients for the sour (zakwas) are rye flour and mineral water. Left to rest in a jar it all starts to work after a few days, but you can leave it even for a few weeks. The taste of sour rye gets more intense every day. Once you have it ready, you add a few veggies, bring it to the boil and let it simmer for up till four hours. Żurek is served with a hard boiled egg and a sausage (yup, you can smuggle some kiełbasa even in a soup if you’re Polish). The ingredients will be easily distinguishable because traditionally Polish soups are not blended. You can see everything that had been added floating around in your plate. Watch a video by Ania’s Kitchen in order to learn how to make zakwas.
04. Flaki (tripe soup)
A soup with the ick factor which often poses a serious challenge to visitors from abroad. Made out of cleaned strips of beef tripe highly seasoned with marjoram and bay leaf. The description may put you off, but the taste of it can be divine! Suffice to say this soup has been present in Poland since XIV century. It’s said to have been king Władysław II Jagiełło’s favourite dish. If you happen to taste it in Warsaw, apart from beef tripe the soup will contain meat balls flavoured with bone marrow. A delicacy which gives you food for thought and makes you consider Polish culinary scene from an unusual angle (Poland isn’t just the land of pierogi!).
05. Vegetable soups
Polish people presume that it would be hard to think of a vegetable which couldn’t be transformed into a soup. Poland boasts its huge variety of vegetable soups. Some of the most renowned are tomato soup (pomidorowa) which tastes best in September when you get just- picked tomatoes, mushroom soup (grzybowa) which is most common in autumn, pea soup (grochówka), cabbage soup (kapuśniak) or cucumber soup (ogórkowa). They’re all made in a similar way – the only difference lies in the last vegetable ingredient added to the broth. The list can go on and on and some of the cookbooks from the 80s contain up till 40 different vegetable soup recipes, as well as fruit soup recipes. The latter taste best on a hot summer day and let many of us relive our childhood memories.