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
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
666 Calories
39g Fat
58g Carbs
22g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 666
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 39g 50%
Saturated Fat 16g 78%
Cholesterol 276mg 92%
Sodium 997mg 43%
Total Carbohydrate 58g 21%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 27mg 133%
Calcium 182mg 14%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 1322mg 28%
*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, sautéed 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.


  • 1 link white Polish kiełbasa sausage, casing removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick

  • 6 cups water

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 cups sour cream

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 pinch sugar, or 1 tablespoon vinegar

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks, and boiled

  • 6 large hard-cooked eggs, sliced

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 6 slices rye bread, light or dark

Steps to Make It

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

  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 sausage slices, potatoes, and eggs to the pot and heat until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. In 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 one week. Alternatively, freeze leftovers for up to six 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.