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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » March 27, 2014
Regional and Traditional Products
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真r Kujawski: Sour Soup from Kujawy
March 27, 2014   
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真r kujawski is one of the most popular Polish soups. It is a dish that has been known and eaten in the Kujawy region, north-central Poland, for centuries, especially in rural areas. It has been said of 簑r that it is a meal for poor and rich alike—depending on how much cream and fried pork rind or sausage is added.

The name 簑r comes from the German adjective sauer, which means sour or pickled. As late as the 19th century the soup was a staple breakfast dish in Kujawy. Many households had a special clay pot called a 簑rownik in which soured rye flour (similar to sourdough) was kept all the time. The sourdough is made from whole rye flour; sometimes a little old sourdough or rye bread crust is added to speed up fermentation. In some locations around the region the sourdough is also made from rye bran.

The soup’s history is described in a legend about a woman who wanted to make dinner but had no ingredients. She poured water over some leftover rye flour and left it on the stove. A while later she decided to cook some potatoes she found in the field. When she bent over the stove she smelled a sweet-sour smell. She remembered about the flour and water left in the pot and decided to add the liquid to the boiled potatoes. When a tempting aroma spread around the kitchen, she came up with the idea of adding some of the pork rind she had hanging over her stove. The final dish was extraordinarily tasty and filling. The woman’s husband came in from the field counting on nothing more than a few potatoes in their skins but was unexpectedly served a delicious soup instead.

真r used to be cooked daily for breakfast because it was tasty, filling and, above all, affordable for every housewife. More affluent cooks started adding fried bacon and onions and whitening the soup with milk or cream.

真r is made in many different ways. It was a daily dish, but on festive occasions it tasted completely different because it was made from the stock left over after boiling smoked ham. Slight differences appear in different areas of Kujawy. What is common to all is that the sourdough is made in a clay pot called a siwak. The sour liquid is poured into boiling water and cooked with white sausage, then enriched with cream and smoked pork. The soup is also flavored with pepper, onions and marjoram. It is eaten with potatoes cooked separately or boiled in the 簑r. The soup is eaten for breakfast or supper, more often in winter than summer because it gets the body warm and is very filling.

Today 簑r is usually no longer made daily, but is popular at Easter or other festive occasions. Products that are added include white sausage, smoked pork bits, hard-boiled eggs and mushrooms, and often there are no potatoes. This has turned the historical 簑r into today’s popular 簑rek, served inside a loaf of bread, a favorite dish with many Poles.
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