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Release date: 12/28/2004.

You'll find this recipe in it, From AN EXALTATION OF SOUPS,
copyright © 2004
by Patricia Solley,
Published by Three Rivers Press.

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Andrew O'Dell, with a very Scottish name but a very Polish background, adds: "We had an Easter dish passed down to us from Polish immigrants which was highly similar to Barscz, with the notable exception that vinegar was substituted for the soured rye-flour, and white bread for rye. Otherwise, ingredients the same. It's my favorite food in the whole world. It may have simply been that rye flour (and rye bread) were scarce in the small Mississippi town where I was born, so my Mother adapted the recipe when she moved there, or a similar adaptation for convenience may have happened some generations earlier."
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Barscz Bialy (aka, Zurek)

(Polish Easter Soup)

This authentic Polish recipe was brought to the United States from Krakow in the early 1900s by Agnes Kravitz, who settled in Northeastern Pennsylvania and passed the "little bit of this, little bit of that" recipe to her daughter Theodosia (Tess) Burke, who in turn passed the love of it on to her own daughter in law, of Italian descent, Maria Burke. Maria sent it to me, for which I shall always be grateful. It's a rich and unusual soup--thickly white from milk and dark rye flour; sour from fermenting the flour into traditional barscz kwaszony zytni (the Russian kvass), tart from freshly grated horseradish, and highly textured from chopped egg and smoked kielbasa and rye bread. Maria says, "it's something you have to acquire a taste for, but once you do, there's no substitute for it." As a converted addict, I agree. Serve hot to 4-6 people on Easter morning...or whenever.

MAKING THE BARSCZ, 5-6 days before making the soup: Stir together in an ample container (ceramic is good) and set it aside in a warm place, covered with a towel. I made mine in a big plastic container, covered it with a potholder, and put it on the back of the stove. The kitchen counter is also fine.) Stir once a day. The fermentation and sour smell is a sign that it's getting good. After making the soup, you can decant the clear liquid, refrigerate, and use as a flavoring in other soups.


  • 1 slice rye bread, torn into bits
  • 1 hardboiled egg, chopped
  • 1 4-inch piece of smoked kielbasa (Polish sausage), chopped
  • horseradish, freshly grated and mixed with a little vinegar


When you're ready to make the soup, bring a quart of water to a simmer on the stove. Beat together the egg and milk, then slowly stir it into the simmering pot. Turn up the heat a bit, let thicken, then slowly pour in the barscz. Stir until it thickens to the consistency of watery oatmeal or runny pea soup. Season well with salt and pepper. It should smell sour.


When ready to serve, place the bread bits, chopped sausage and egg into each bowl that you're serving. Ladle the Barscz soup over all, then stir in horseradish to taste.