Bowl of Polish Sauerkraut Soup
(click to enlarge)

Sauerkraut Soup
Poland
  -   Kapusniak
Makes:
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
4-1/2 quart  
***
1-1/2 hr  
Better

A savory and satisfying soup, especially for cold, rainy days. "Authenticity" is easy to claim here since there are so many variations (several meat options are listed). It can be eaten as soon as done, but it is even better when reheated the next day. I have also developed a Vegetarian Version that I use more often than meat versions.





2-1/2
1

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2
1/2
1/2
2
3
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8
1/4
2
2


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2
7
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1
7
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3
#
of

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cl
t
t


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oz
#
T
#


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oz
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oz
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Potatoes (1)
Meat Options (2)
(see below)
-- Seasonings
Garlic
Caraway Seeds
Peppercorns
Bay Leaves
Chili, dry (3)
-------------
Onion
Salt Pork (or bacon)
Flour
Sauerkraut (4)
    with Brine

-- Option #1 ---
Pork Ribs
Polish Sausage
-- Option #2 ---
Pork, lean
Polish Sausage
--Option #3 ---
Ham Hocks, smoked

  1. Peel POTATOES and cut into chunks 3/4 to 1 inch on a side.
  2. Cut MEAT (See "Options" below) 1/2 to 3/4 inch on a side, but not Sausage (if using), it goes in later. If using Ribs, cut 1-1/2 to 2 inches long. If using Smoked Hocks, they go in whole and are deboned and cut up when done.
  3. In a pot sufficient for the whole recipe (5 quart min.), place Meat (but not Sausages or Smoked Hocks) with Water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that rises as it comes to a boil.
  4. Slice GARLIC thin.
  5. Stir Potatoes and all Seasoning items into the pot. Add enough additional Water to cover well. Bring to a boil and simmer while you work on the rest.
  6. Chop ONION small.
  7. Dice SALT PORK small.
  8. Put the Salt Pork in a skillet with about 1/16th inch of Water. Boil the water gently to render some fat, then fry over low heat, stirring until enough fat has rendered to fry the Onions.
  9. Stir in Onions and fry slowly, stirring often until you see just a touch of color, then add Flour and stir about 2 minutes more, but do not brown.
  10. Stir some Soup from the main pot into the Onion mix, a little at a time, and stirring until you have a smooth mixture. Stir this back into the main soup pot.
  11. When Potatoes are about cooked through (and not before or they'll harden), strain the Sauerkraut from the Brine. Pour the Brine into the pot. Pile the Sauerkraut on your cutting board and cut slices through it about 1-1/2 inches apart, then again at right angles (this makes it easier to eat with a spoon). Stir into the pot.
  12. Adjust liquid as you simmer slowly for another half hour (probably longer if using Smoked Hocks).
  13. If using Sausage, cut it into slices and quarter the slices. Stir into the soup when it's mostly done.
  14. IF you used Smoked Hocks, fish them out. Remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones. Dice the meat (skin included) and stir back into the pot.
  15. You can adjust acidity to your taste using sauerkraut juice (best), wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or malt vinegar. Don't use cider vinegar - its flavor conflicts!
NOTES:
  1. Potatoes:   White Rose are ideal for this recipe. They stay quite firm, but also thicken the soup just right. Red potatoes would disintegrate too much. Avoid "Yukon Gold" type potatoes like the plague - they'd be mush long before cooking is done. Do Not add Sauerkraut until the Potatoes are nearly fully cooked - acids harden the surface and they don't cook right. For details, see our Potatoes page.
  2. Meat:   What cut of pork and just how much is pretty flexible - do to your own taste. Polish sausage is, of course, a natural, but other's that cook firm can be used. As I've mentioned, smoked hocks work fine too (different flavor), or one smoked hock and other meats.
  3. Chili, Dry Red:   I use 3 hot Thai chilis, which are barely detectable in this much soup, but in Southern California we just don't make soup without chilis.
  4. Sauerkraut:   Back when I originally wrote up this recipe (2004) I had abandoned Claussen, which had become absurdly expensive for cooking. I was using Meter's Wisconsin Kraut, a fine product, but now discontinued. Fortunately, today (2013) we can select from many fine brands imported from Poland. My favorite brand is Vitarol, because it is packed with plenty of brine - some brands are too dry. For details see our Sauerkraut page.
  5. Variations:   Some Sauerkraut Soup recipes have the potatoes boiled separately and served as a side to the soup but I've always much preferred cooking them in the soup.
  6. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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