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White Polish mushroom borscht recipe

White Polish mushroom borscht recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup
  • Vegetable soup
  • Root vegetable soup
  • Borscht

White Polish borscht is usually made with sourdough starter which thickens the soup and gives is a tangy flavour. This borscht is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve.

4 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1 (50g) packet l dried wild mushrooms
  • 150ml sourdough starter
  • 150ml single cream
  • 3 to 5 whole allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Maggi®liquid seasoning to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:1hr ›Extra time:3hr soaking › Ready in:4hr20min

  1. Rinse the mushrooms and soak in a small saucepan for 2 to 3 hours in enough water just to cover them. Add allspice and bay leaf. Simmer for 30 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.
  2. Drain the mushrooms, pouring broth into a large pot. Stir in sourdough starter and cook until the soup starts to thicken. If too thick, add more water.
  3. Slice cooked mushrooms and add to the pot. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Mix cream with few tablespoons hot soup until smooth. Pour the mixture in the pot. Season with salt, pepper, Maggi and garlic. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter to make it smoother.

Sourdough starter

See the recipe how to make your own sourdough starter

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(6)

Recipe Summary

  • 9 cups water
  • 3 pounds kielbasa sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour, or more as needed
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar, or more to taste
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

Bring water, kielbasa, and 2 whole cloves garlic to boil in a large pot reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove sausage and pour liquid into a separate bowl. Cut sausage into cubes.

Melt butter over medium heat in the pot used to boil sausage cook and stir leeks, onion, and minced garlic until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a blender add about 1/2 cup reserved sausage water and blend until smooth, adding more water as needed.

Pour vegetable puree and remaining sausage water back into the original pot. Add bay leaves and bring borscht to a simmer over medium heat remove and discard leaves. Whisk sour cream and flour in a bowl until smooth gradually whisk into borscht until thickened. Stir dill and vinegar into soup and season with salt and black pepper.

Divide cubed sausage and chopped eggs into bowls ladle borscht over sausage and egg.

Spiced mushroom borscht

My paternal bloodline brims with soup: barley stews studded with black mushrooms and opaque as porridge the thin tomato broth of our Polish Christmas Eve vigil, swimming with dumplings no bigger than a bird’s eye and the plain, milky, peasant concoction, assembled from Grandma Sophie’s kitchen scraps, known affectionately within the clan as “dough-ball-soup.”

Though my grandmother is gone and her soups have not passed my father’s lips in nearly 20 years, come winter, like clockwork, he sighs for them. So my mother and I do what we can -- what Karnasiewicz women have surely been doing for generations: We chop and shred and fill our stockpots. We comfort each other with borscht.

Indeed, of all our soups, this is my family’s edible valentine: the steaming bowl of claret-colored stock streaked with cabbage and turnip and faintly perfumed with vinegar and clove tender strands of simmered beef, as dark and as soft as pumpernickel a filigree of fresh dill and a scoop of sour cream that melts into a pastel smear and horseradish to heat up everything.

Borscht. No, it does not sound beautiful. But when well made, few dishes can be as seductive. Clean and earthy and economical, a bit sour and a bit sweet, assembled from the humblest provisions and better with age, it’s a crimson silk purse stitched from a beetroot.

Traditionally, the borscht heartland has run in a wide river across Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans, dribbling from Vilnius to Tbilisi, the Baltic to the Black Sea. But ultimately, cravings for borscht persist anywhere during dark, wet winter weather, when a bit of lightness and color is truly a gift.

Maybe you don’t have borscht in your bloodline? No matter: Despite what zealous Muscovites or Poles may argue, there are no “right” recipes -- nationalistic preferences and peccadilloes, regional flights-of-fancy and seasonal riffs, certainly -- but still borscht remains a dish largely defined by the way it has been adopted, and like minestrone, is an evolving and improvised affair.

There should be beets, yes -- for a bump of sugar and the signature ruby hue. (Although, in an exception to the rule, bialy barszcz -- Polish “white borscht” -- is beet-less, and it is divine.) Otherwise, borscht may contain as many as 20 ingredients or as few as four be vegetarian or bulging with beef be enriched with tomatoes, bulked out with beans, peppered by white cabbage or red, slurped hot or cold. (The quintessential everyman’s supper was designed to be forgiving, accepting of whatever the cellar contained.) In Ukraine -- where most sources agree it was introduced in the 1300s, and until recently might be found on a family’s breakfast, lunch and dinner table -- proverbs refer to it simply as “the center of everything.”

The borscht my father grew up on followed the Ukrainian tradition, meaning it was chockablock and meaty, built on a foundation of salt pork or short ribs, the meat left to slide from the bone, and the stock fortified with carrots, celery, onion, pepper and bay leaf. Then came the cornucopia: maybe a turnip or two, a russet potato, another carrot, a firm head of cabbage and a few petite beets, all carefully cubed and shredded and added with precise orchestration to achieve an equilibrium of silkiness and crunch.

Even now, standing over my stove, this is usually the template with which I start -- though, as with all headstrong children, the temptation to put my stamp on things invariably leads to digressions from the family line.

For instance: My husband isn’t a fan of celery, so goodbye to that leeks and a fragrant fistful of garlic take its place. Sometimes my mood demands a meatless and more austere mushroom-based version. Sometimes I bulk up my bouquet garni with peppercorns, star anise and spiky cloves, which lends the pot the subtle scent of the Silk Road or swap a russet for a sweet potato or toss in that green apple, alone in the fruit bowl.

One of the hallmarks of borscht is its careful balance of sweetness and acidity. The latter element may come courtesy of lemon juice or vinegar or sauerkraut stirred into the stock, though traditionally, the source would have been kvass -- a beer-ish, fermented tonic made from rye, barley or sometimes beets themselves -- which has an ancient lineage among Slavic people, and remains ubiquitous throughout much of Russia. If you’re the DIY type, kvass isn’t terribly hard to make, and recipes abound on the Internet -- but in a pinch, most Central and Eastern European markets carry a commercial version that’s a fine substitute.

Or, you might do as I did recently, and let color inspire innovation. Meandering through the aisles of the market, my eyes fell on a pint of fresh cranberries. Their hue was a natural match for borscht, of course -- and also, I guessed, might be their tart juiciness. At home, I tossed the cranberries with sugar and salt, garlic, a glug of oil and a shower of fresh rosemary, spread them on a baking sheet and roasted them until their taut skins split. Then, into the pot they went to join with the pile of potatoes, carrots and onions already softening in bacon drippings. Finished with a few cups of chicken stock and left to simmer, the result was a beautiful new borscht base: sweet, sour and utterly surprising.

A teeming bowl of borscht is usually hearty enough to staunch all but the fiercest appetites, but a buttered bit of dense black bread on the side is an easy and invariably welcome addition to sop up the last few spoonfuls. If you’re after a more proper supper, though, you might take a cue from the Russians and offer a plate of savory filo pies or the Poles, who prefer pierogi or the Ukranians, who sprinkle galushki, dainty buckwheat dumplings, directly into the pot.

Then, finally, all that’s left to do is admire it. Ladle your borscht into a white bowl and gild it with a smudge of sour cream. Offer it to someone you love. Listen, and you may hear them sigh. They are satisfied. Your work is done.

Make the Uszka Dough

Place the all-purpose flour in a stand mixer or large bowl. Blend in the beaten egg, salt, and 3 tablespoons of water (add more if needed).

Knead until a smooth dough forms, adding additional water, if necessary. Remove dough from the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 20 minutes.

Put a large pot of broth or salted water on to boil. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough very thinly. Cut into 2-inch squares. (Note: Alternatively, the dough can be cut into small circles and folded as for pierogi.)

Place a spoonful of the mushroom filling or the filling of choice on each square. Moisten two edges of the dough with water and fold in half to form a triangle, pressing out any air.

Dab one of the points with water and lap the other point over and press them together. It will look a little like a tri-cornered hat. Repeat with remaining dough.

Drop uszka into boiling broth or water and cook 10 minutes or until tender when tested.

For this month’s Eat the World Challenge we are traveling to Poland. This country has been on my travel bucket list forever. Until I get to actually go, I’ll be able to experience Poland through its foods. Lots of traditional Polish dishes are similar to surrounding countries, like Russia and Ukraine. But when I came across this Polish white borscht soup recipe, I knew I found something really different and had to make it.

Polish cuisine

The Polish cuisine is very hardy and similar to neighboring Slavic countries. It is rich in meats and poultry, uses a lot of winter vegetables like potatoes and cabbage, as well as local spices, and herbs. Noodles and grains are common, and there is a heavy hand when it comes to butter, cream, and eggs.

A list of traditional Polish dishes includes bigos, pierogis, kiełbasa, kotlet which are breaded pork loins breaded, gołąbki cabbage rolls, sour cucumber soup, a unique mushroom soup, tomato soup, tripe soup, and these cheese filled crepes called Nalysnyky. You may see a pattern here, soups are a big deal here, including more than one kind of borscht.

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Polish White Borscht Soup recipe

So turns out the word borscht has Yiddish roots and the word was to describe the original ingredient use when the soup was first invented: hogweed! You learned something new today!

The Polish white borscht is described as a sour rye soup as it made of soured rye flour. You basically need to make a starter, like a sourdough starter for bread, before you can make the actual soup. In the Polish language, the soup is called żur or żurek. The word derives from the German word for sour, Sauer.

This is a peasant soup or a soup for the poor. The list of ingredients is very basic. It can be made clear or thickened with the rye starter. To make it heartier it is sometimes served in an edible bowl made of bread or with boiled potatoes.

Zakwas, a rye flour starter

Zakwas is the given name to the special starter one must prepare ahead of time for this soup. It is made of rye flour and water, and for flavor, you can add a bay leaf and a few garlic cloves.

Just mix the start ingredients together and leave to ferment for 3 to 5 days until it is ready. This is where the soup gets most of its unique flavor.

So this soup technically falls under good for you gut fermented food category too! Check out my other fermented recipes:

A Special Easter Soup

This is also a very traditional Easter soup and for this special occasion, one can add slices of sausage and hard-boiled eggs. A little fresh parsley or dill make the finishing touches. I found a most authentic recipe here.

We all know the beet-based borscht soup but I had no idea there was a white version. And I have to say, it is an acquired taste. one I did not acquire on my first or second bowl. What can I say, we can’t like everything. But the whole point of this challenge is to at least try and discover new foods and flavors.

Maybe this Polish white borscht soup recipe will be the bowl of soup you have been craving all along.

Polish White Borscht ( Bialy Barszcz)

Polish white borscht is a heavenly soup that you and your family will devour. When most people think of borscht, they think of the red one that is made with beetroot which is also extremely popular. Traditionally what makes this white is potatoes but if you are following the Plant Paradox diet, you could use Daikon radish in its place. I made it with the radish and it was spectacular. This soup is also known as Easter soup in Poland as it is often served on that special occasion.

This Polish white borscht soup will be a family favorite as it is perfect on a cold winter or fall day. It is savory with a hint of sour that is just divine. In Poland it is called bialy barszcz. Soups of all kind are loved in Poland as the winters can be quite long and cold. They are famous for their kielbasa (polish sausage). I was able to find a grass fed one that was delicious and plant paradox compliant. You could easily double the recipe and freeze it for a quick and easy meal when you don’t feel like preparing something.

Did you know that in Poland they have a tradition of burning a giant doll, then drowning it? The doll represents sort of a witch called Marzanna (the old Slavic goddess of winter, plague and death). It is a fun tradition to welcome in the sun on the Spring Equinox in this cool European country and holds hope for a good harvest .

If you love this Polish white borscht recipe be sure to check the other authentic recipes we enjoyed as part of our International Cuisine meal. You can get the recipes plus learn more about this fascinating country by checking out “Our Journey to Poland”.

Craving even more? Be sure to join the culinary and cultural journey around the world so you don’t miss a thing, it’s free, You can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook , Pinterest and youtube to follow along our journey.

Please note that this page contains affiliate links in which I will earn a small commission however, it will in no way affect the price you pay. I thank you for your support!

Pay attention to the potatoes of your borscht

Turn your focus back to the potatoes. When they are almost cooked through, but not completely, add 4 cups of shredded green cabbage to the pot and simmer for almost two minutes until the cabbage softens. Transfer the vegetables in the skillet to the pot, add 10 black peppercorns and simmer for approximately ten minutes.

Turn the burner heat off and stir in two minced medium garlic cloves. Taste and season with more salt, sugar, and vinegar if needed. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream and dill.

Where Did Zurek Come From?

According to Maria Dembińska the origins of zurek are pretty gross. It happened when peasants didn’t wash the pot from a previous soup properly and the fermentation created a sour base.

Another legend says that it started with a disagreement between a village and baker who owned an inn. He served a ton of watered-down things at his inn.

The villagers were fed up with this procedure and paid the random person who would bet the baker for a bag of gold that he would eat the worst soup he could prepare. The skimpy baker, without thinking much, poured boiling water over the leaven on the bread which turned out to be a great soup and he lost the bet.

This humble fortifying soup with a unique sour cream flavor makes for a hearty and wholesome dinner.

Polish Borscht (Barszcz) Recipe

First you need to start preparing the beetroot so that it gets sour: take around 1,5kg beetroot, cut into slices. Put into a huge jar and add enough lukewarm water so that the beetroots are just covered. On top, put a slice of rye bread (not necessary but it speeds up the souring process. Put a towel on top of the jar and leave it in a warm place for 4-5 days. After that time, remove the foam that may start to appear and put the clear juice into bottles. It can stay like that for a few months.

Next, make the broth: boil celery root, parsley root, carrot, leek and onion. Add 4 sliced beetroot, 10 peppercorns (black), a bit of allspice, and a bay leaf. In another pan, boil 50-80g of dried wild mushrooms. Mix together these 2 broths (the beetroot and mushroom soup). Add the beetroot concentrate (the one you made for 4-5 days). For 1,1/2 liter you may need 1/2 liter of “kwas” (sour beetroot). Bring to a boil. Add salt, you can also add some wine, a crushed garlic clove. Serve.

Borscht with Polish dumplings

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Porcini mushroom filling

  • 30 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 250 g water
  • 80 g brown onion, cut into quarters
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 30 g breadcrumbs
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon juice


  • 140 - 160 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 70 g lukewarm water


  • 600 - 700 g raw beetroot, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 dried porcini mushrooms, cut into slices
  • 1400 g water, plus extra for boiling
  • 2 tsp sea salt, plus extra to taste
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper, plus extra to taste
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 2 - 3 tbsp white vinegar, to taste
  • 2 tbsp dried marjoram

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