Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Czarnina...really?? (Polish Duck Blood Soup)

You say you want to make Czarnina  (Polish duck blood soup)? 
Because your grandmother used to make it when you were a child?   Well good luck with that!    Curiously enough, Czarnina is one of the most frequently mentioned classic recipes that is not in either of our books.  It’s not there for good reason – because it is almost impossible to find duck blood anywhere...  Peter called all around Northern Virginia looking for duck blood and no one here carries it – not the Safeway, not the Polish deli, not the gourmet grocery store, not the butcher, and not the Asian store.  No one carries fresh or frozen duck blood - unless you happen to live next to a duck farm.  And even then you have to get it fresh, and make the soup before the blood coagulates  (ugh!) 

You can find cow blood in most Asian stores and we suppose from a decent butcher, but Peter doesn’t have a clue how it would taste in comparison to duck blood.  He has never tried either and he is not about to.  Let Andrew Zimmern (the weird foods guy on the Travel Channel) tell us. 

So while researching this bloody topic Peter ran across several recipes for imitation Czarnina, also known as Blind or Bloodless Czarnina.  It gets its flavor from smoked meat, dried prunes and other fruit.  The flavor is very unique and intriguing, so here is an adaptation from different several recipes that could be easy to prepare and could be quite tasty. 

Imitation Czarnina
Serves 8

1 ham bone, meaty
3 quarts water
1 cup chili sauce
4 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces pitted prunes
1 small can (8 to 10 ounces) pears
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup vinegar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
½ cup half-and-half or ¼ cup heavy cream
1 package cooked egg noodles

In a large pot combine the ham bone, water, chili sauce, celery, onion, salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer about one and a half hours, or until the ham meat starts to fall off the bone.  Let the soup cool; remove the bone and anything inedible.  Chop any large pieces of meat to a small dice.

Add the prunes, pears, raisins, and vinegar.  Bring to a simmer; cover and simmer for one more hour, then bring to a low boil.  Adjust the salt, pepper and vinegar to your taste.  Whisk the flour into the cream and add gradually to the pot while whisking enthusiastically.  Cook until thickened to the consistency of creamy tomato soup.  Taste one final time.  Serve over the egg noodles.

We promise to make a batch “soon” but in the mean time you be the next and be sure to let us know how it came out! 


  1. I used to go out of my way to buy it in a suburban Chicago Polish restaurant.

    Loved it.

  2. went to Poland this summer. Was hoping to find a restaurant that served Czarnina, when I asked my tour guide if she knew of a place she replied "oh we don't eat that here" What's with that? One of the best memories of my childhood was duck soup for Sunday dinner with home made dumplings.

    1. Apparently, czarnina is more of a rural, farmstead dish, often looked down upon by sophisticated, urban cosmo-Pole-ites. Have you ever noticed that most ethnic comfort foods depend on inexpensive ingredients and simple, though often time-consuming, recipes? Peasant food.

  3. My grandma was from Warsaw Poland. She said they didn't eat Czarnina there. It's a regional thing. When she married grandpa she said she had to learn to make Czarnina for him because they ate it where he was from. He was from a part of the Ukraine that was once a part of Poland. Grandpa was 3/4 Pole and 1/4 Ukrainian. I live in Cleveland Ohio and there are a couple of stores where I get ducks and blood. I make my grandma's Czarnina recipe. Been making it for 41 years... since I was 20 y/o. I'll be making a pot of Czarnina tomorrow.

    1. Hello there,
      My Grandfather (Casey Cegelka) and Grandmother (Jane Cegelka) were head of the P.L.A.V (Polish Legion) In Garfield Hts,Ohio. My Grandmother, family members, and PLAV members would make her Czarnina recipe for hundreds of people every year at some banquet hall around there in the 1980's. My mouth is watering as I think about that broth and those dense dumplings...Yum! I live in Arizona and have wanted to make this soup for the last 25 years. I remember her shaving those raw potatoes into saw dust size by hand for hours..God they used to work so hard back then..Anyways, I would love to get your recipe. My Grandmother's cookbooks are no where to be found. So, it would be nice to get a recipe from someone of your background.

  4. My husband's mother makes this, he and our daughters love czarnina. They are Polish (Zielaskowski's our name). Their family originates from Prussia, must have been made in that region. We live in a rural area so my husband was able to purchase two geese and blood. He's going to try to make it on his own with the help of this recipe. We'll see how it goes!!

  5. Instead of a live duck, I bought a frozen duckling you can get in any grocery store and used frozen Pork Blood, you can get a Asian or Korean grocery stores, I use three 10 oz. containers of pork blood and it works well

  6. I still make it and I am lucky we have a butcher shop that still sells it...well I haven't tried yet this year. Going to call now! And duck is so expensive!!

  7. go to buffalofoods.com - under the specialty foods section - and they have 'czarnina kits' you can buy. it includes 2 pts. of real ducks blood, 6# duck meat and 2# kluski. its enough for 2 nice pots of our beloved 'soul food'.

  8. Just had some in a Polish Restaurant in Milwaukee. Talking with the chef, he indicated that you can still buy duck's blood in the Great Lakes region.
    Everywhere else I have been in the US, cannot find it

  9. I live in Las Vegas Nevada and it is not here. I looked at buffalo foods and they want $80.00 for the kit, I just want the blood, can anybody tell me where to get just the ducks blood please.


    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. Buffalo foods now has the blood.

  10. Broadway market in Buffalo, Ny

  11. I make my grandmother's recipe for Czarnina. She was from Sandomiercz, Poland. It is delicious. I used to have a poulter in Dearborn who did the fresh duck for me with the blood. About 1/4 cup of vinegar prevents the blood from congealing. I can not find anyone this year. My guy seems to have gone out of business. It is a shame. It is really is a delicacy and a custom that is sad to lose. :-( Janja.

  12. You can buy duck blood at Tower Chicken & Rupina's in Milwaukee, WI.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.