Soup Is Indispensable
Soups take a starring role in Polish cuisine and are eaten year-round, even in the hottest weather. Often, what many would consider today to be a main-course soup is actually the first course of a multicourse dinner (obiad
), followed by an equally hearty fish, poultry or meat offering. Occasionally, soup is the second course served, after a round of cold appetizers.
In the Polish culinary world, zupa
is the generic term for "soup," in much the same way kiełbasa
is the generic word for "sausage." Zupa can be further divided into the categories of rosół, polewka, barszcz, chłodnik, krupnik, zupa owocowa
, and others. And, as one might expect, there are no hard-and-fast rules as to their distinction since many soups fall into more than one category.
is generally a clear meat or poultry broth, often served with fine noodles. Rosół z kury
or chicken soup is the most popular in this category, and is often the first course for Sunday dinners and at weddings.
is a cross between a porridge and a creamed soup made very simply in the peasant style with broth thickened with rye flour and cream. There are many types, including polewka piwna
or beer soup.
Barszcz, Żurek and Chłodnik
In Poland, barszcz
is typically a sour soup that gets its characteristic tang from being naturally fermented or by the addition of some type of acid like vinegar, lemon or sour cream. It can be served hot or cold and usually has beets as its base, but other types exist. Biały barszcz
or white barszcz is made with the cooking water from biała kiełbasa
and fermented wheat. Another type of white barszcz, known as żurek
, is made with fermented rye and served with hard-cooked eggs and rye croutons as the morning meal on Easter Sunday.
Hot beet barszcz can be meatless (as for Christmas Eve or wigilia
) or have a meat broth base and may be served with boiled potatoes and a dollop of sour cream or with little meat dumplings known as uszka
Cold barszcz is known as chłodnik. Chłodnik litewski
, or cold beet soup in the Lithuanian style, is a delightful way to slake the thirst on a hot, summer day. A similar soup is chotodziec
, a cold soup made with pickle juice, buttermilk, hard-cooked eggs, chopped beets, chives, dill and, sometimes, shrimp or crayfish. It is presented in a bowl with an ice cube.
is typically a gruel made with barley or beans, and is not to be confused with the honey-spiced vodka
of the same name. Krupnik is guaranteed to warm your heart and tummy. Many frugal cooks who make their own curd cheese (twaróg
), use the whey (the liquid byproduct of the cheesemaking process) as the stock for krupnik. And making your own curd cheese is easier than you think -- it only takes a few hours.
are fruit soups that can be served hot or cold, but usually cold in the hot summer months. Some are made with buttermilk or garnished with sour cream for that tart flavor beloved by Poles.