Polish Christmas Eve Beet Soup (Barszcz Wigilijny)

Polish Christmas eve beet soup recipe

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Ferment: 72 hrs
  • Yield: 6 Bowls (6 Servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
213 Calories
2g Fat
45g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 Bowls (6 Servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 213
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 331mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 12g 42%
Protein 7g
Calcium 77mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Polish Christmas Eve beet soup (barszcz wigilijny) is from chef Marek (Mark) Widomski, founder and director of the Culinary Institute in Crakow, Poland.

While many beet soup recipes call for beef stock, meat or bones, since this is a Polish Christmas Eve supper (wigilia) recipe, it must be meatless.

The soup is made with a beet sour (kwas) that must ferment for at least three days before using and vegetable stock. The traditional way to eat barszcz wigilijny is with mushroom uszka or paszteciki.

At the Culinary Institute in Crakow, Chef Mark and his staff offer classes in everything from peasant food to gourmet cuisine, tailoring them to the individual's needs, in Polish, English and other languages.

Ingredients

  • For the Beet Sour (Kwas):
  • 3 1/2 pounds beets (peeled, rinsed and sliced)
  • 1 slice rye bread (with crust)
  • For the Beet Soup:
  • 1 pound beets (peeled, rinsed and sliced)
  • 1/2 pound vegetables (Polish soup vegetables: carrot, parsnip, celery root, leek, peeled, rinsed and sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic (mashed with a little salt)
  • 2 cups beet sour
  • 1 dried mushroom (soak and reserve 1/4 cup strained liquid)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this soup is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Beet Sour (Kwas)

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for sour
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Place the beets in a large crock or ceramic bowl.

    Beets
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Cover with pre-boiled lukewarm water. Add the bread with the crust, pushing it under the water.

    Cover with water
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Cover the crock or bowl with cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature for three days.

    Cover
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Strain through cheesecloth, pour into a glass jar and seal it. Store in the fridge. You may eat the strained beets or discard them.

    Beets in jar
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Make the Beet Soup

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for soup
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Place the beets, Polish soup vegetables (włoszczna) in a large stockpot.

    Place vegetables in pot
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Add 6 cups cold water and 1 teaspoon of the butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender.

    Add water
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Strain, pressing on vegetables to extract every last ounce of liquid.

    Strain
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Return the strained liquid to the pot and add mashed garlic with a little salt, the beet sour (kwas), strained mushroom soaking liquid, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

    Add garlic
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

    Bring to boil
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  7. Before serving, stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter and parsley.

    Add herbs
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  8. Ladle into hot bowls and serve with mushroom uszka.

    Polish Christmas eve beet soup
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska