Biały Barszcz: Polish White Borscht Soup

A bowl of Polish white borscht
Dobromila/Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-SA-4.0,3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
623 Calories
37g Fat
37g Carbs
35g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 623
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 48%
Saturated Fat 16g 78%
Cholesterol 328mg 109%
Sodium 643mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Protein 35g
Calcium 204mg 16%
*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.)

White borscht soup—Polish biały barszcz (bee-YAH-wih BARRSCH) or żurek wielkanocny (ZHU-rrek vyel-kah-NAWTCH-nih)—is typically eaten on Easter Sunday morning and is made with most of the foods from the swięconka basket blessed on Holy Saturday.

The soup ingredients vary by family and region, but many are made with sour cream, smoked sausage, and fresh white Polish sausage. Other recipes use buttermilk and ham, while some skip the sausage and add bacon, sauteed onions, vinegar, and sugar. What remains constant is using the water the sausage was cooked in as a base and adding some type of sour—known as żur or kwas—like in this traditional żurek recipe from Poland.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups sausage cooking water (fat removed)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Optional: Pinch of sugar or 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 link white Polish kiełbasa sausage (casing removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick)
  • 1 link smoked Polish kiełbasa sausage (casing removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick)
  • 6 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into chunks, and boiled)
  • 6 hard-cooked sliced eggs
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 slices light or dark rye bread

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, add sausage water and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 5 minutes.

  2. In a small bowl, fork-blend the sour cream and flour. Temper the sour cream with a little hot sausage water, then add the sour cream mixture to the pot, stirring until thickened.

  3. At this point, you can add a pinch of sugar or a tablespoon of vinegar if desired. The soup should have a pleasantly sour taste.

  4. Add the sausages, potatoes, and eggs to the pot and heat until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. Into 6 heated bowls, tear the rye bread into bite-sized pieces. Ladle the hot soup over the bread and enjoy.

  6. Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container for up to 1 week. Alternatively, freeze leftovers for up to 6 months.

White Barszcz vs. Red Barszcz

While the main difference between these borscht recipes is the color, the other main distinction is that one is made with beets. A common denominator, however, is that they are both considered sour soups.

White borscht often has a sour rye bread starter (kwas) or gets its sour taste from the addition of sour cream. Red borscht typically gets its sourness from vinegar or lemon juice; it can be a clear red color and made without meat or vegetables, or a translucent red including potatoes and beef cubes.

Every Eastern European group has its own variation, and each claims its version to be superior. There are merits to them all and they all deserve to be tasted and experimented!