Żur (read "jour" like in French "Bon Jour" means "Good Day") is definitively one of the most common Polish soups. It is also quite original and known only in Eastern Europe. People who do not have Eastern European background probably never tasted this delicious soup.
Żur (ryemeal soup) is available in many variations and is eaten on many occasions. According to Polish cookbook there is a Meat Zur, Farmers Zur , Old Polish Zur , Lenten Zur , Lenten Aromatic Zur , White Borscht, which is also a type of zur. Many more types of zur are available. This soup is almost obligatory part of Lenten season in Poland.
The main constituent of zur is a fermented ryemeal. In Poland one can usually buy it on the farmer market or in the grocery store. Poles can also buy a powdered soup in almost all groceries. If the fermented ryemeal is unavailable you have to prepare it. There are different ways of doing it.
Here is a fragment from the recipe in Robert Strybel’s cookbook:
In crock or glass jar combine 1 c rye flour with 5 c warm pre-boiled water, beating with whisk until lump-free. Add 1-2 sliced buds garlic and (optional) a rye-bread crust. Cover mouth of container with cheese cloth fastened with rubber-band and let stand in warm (75°- 80°F) place 3 - 5 days, or until liquid becomes pleasantly tart. Taste it every day. To make your soup, combine 4-5 c vegetable stock (traditional or bouillon-cube-style) with about 1-2 c ryemeal sour.
This is just a start, in order to have a soup prepared you still need to add some spices (especially salt, pepper, marjoram), thicken it with flour dissolved in water or milk, add potatoes or egg etc.
Here I suggest an easier recipe. It tastes like zur but you do not need to prepare a fermented mixture ahead of time.
You need a Polish sausage - it is available everywhere in grocery stores in the USA. You may find it in meat and sausage section under a name "Polska Kielbasa". It is sold by Hillshire farm and generic producers in 1 lbs sealed packages. Put the sausage into the boiling water (before adding the sausage you may add a few grain of whole allspice and 2-3 bay leaves). Tip: you may cut the sausage into 2-3 pieces before adding it in the water so that the water would become soaked with sausage brew. After cooking 15-20 minutes, add chopped potatoes and crushed clove of garlic and continue cooking. You may thicken the soup by adding a soup spoon of flour mixed with water or milk.
You may also add some sour cream or marjoram. Taste whether potatoes are soft, check whether you need more salt or pepper. Distribute it into the plates, you may add some hard cooked egg also.
Try also a book written by Alina Zeranska, Janina Domanska (Illustrator), entitled The Art of Polish Cooking
The most extensive and varied Polish cookbook ever published in English, with over 2,200 recipes in 20 categories, written especially for Americans with American weights, measures and temperatures a book written by Robert Strybel, Maria Strybel , entitled Polish Heritage Cookery