This hearty and warming Polish sauerkraut soup recipe is a nutritious simple dish perfect to enjoy on a cold day. The post includes both vegetarian and meat sauerkraut soup options.
Polish sauerkraut soup recipe
This sauerkraut soup recipe, ‘kapusniak‘ in Polish, is one of the heartiest soups I know. Sharp, peppery and warming, it is a great dish to make during colder months. It is one of the most popular soups in Poland, where cabbage, whether fresh or fermented (i.e. sauerkraut), is inexpensive, available all year round and valued for its nutrition and fabulous flavour.
Vegetarian vs meat sauerkraut soup
Polish sauerkraut soup is typically made with meat, such as Polish sausage, pieces of ham, pork ribs, often smoked.
This vegetarian sauerkraut soup is equally delicious especially if you garnish it with fresh herbs and sprinkle with a bit of smoked paprika. (See more serving suggestions below).
If, however, you would like to make meat based kapusniak soup simply add the meat (chopped Polish sausage, smoked ham, ribs or chicken drumsticks etc) into the pot right at the start and cook along with the other ingredients. Once the soup is ready you can take the meat out, remove the bones, if present, chop the meat and place back into the pot.
This fermented cabbage product has a distinct sharp, sour taste. It also has a pungent smell. Both in its raw as well as cooked form. Which in my view is the only downside to sauerkraut. Everything else is fabulous. For me sauerkraut is the savoury equivalent to chocolate. It will satisfy your savoury cravings better than crisps (chips), pretzels or crackers. And it’s so much better for you!
Another big plus is that sauerkraut has a long shelf life, it’s full of natural preservatives so it won’t spoil quickly. So you can enjoy it in not one but several recipes! See more sauerkraut recipe ideas below.
Where to buy sauerkraut
I recommend buying sauerkraut in a Polish delicatessen. Look for sauerkraut with no preservatives in it (other than salt), yellow rather than grey in colour.
Other easy sauerkraut recipes
If you are wondering what to do with leftover sauerkraut you might like these ideas:
How to make Polish sauerkraut soup
Start by briefly frying the onion and bay leaf in a little oil, then add the sauerkraut and continue cooking for another minute or so. Pour in half of the water (and add the meat if using), cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients and cook gently for 50 minutes stirring occasionally.
Consistency of Polish kapusniak soup
You can adjust the amount of water to add according to your preference. I like this soup quite thick, almost stew-like, but you can simply add a bit more water if you prefer it more runny. (Don’t forget to adjust the seasoning). Sometimes sauerkraut comes with a bit of grated carrot – it’s perfectly alright to use this instead of just sauerkraut.
Garnish with fresh dill or parsley, sprinkle with smoked paprika, add bacon bits or sausage chunks (for a non-vegetarian option). You can also enjoy this vegetarian sauerkraut recipe with a thick slice of pumpernickel or rye bread.
Be careful with adding salt to this soup as sauerkraut is quite salty. Once the soup is cooked taste it to determine the amount of salt it needs, if any (I added about 1 teaspoon). Be generous, however, with the pepper (use either black or cayenne) as this soup tastes best with a bit of bite.
Sauerkraut should be gluten free but always read the label before making a purchase.
Here is a non-vegetarian sauerkraut recipe you might like: Sauerkraut Chicken Casserole
More Polish soup recipes
Check out also this collection of over 12 creamy vegan soups.
Keep in touch!
How did your kapusniak soup turn out for you? Let me know in the comments below, thanks!
Polish Sauerkraut Soup Recipe (Kapusniak)
- 350 g sauerkraut strained, chopped
- 4 medium potatoes cubed
- 1 medium carrot finely diced
- Small piece about 60 g celery root, peeled, finely diced
- 1/2 leek thinly sliced
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 teaspoon allspice powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.4 l hot water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot heat up the oil, add the bay leaf, onion and fry for a couple of minutes over a medium heat stirring occasionally.
- Add the sauerkraut, stir and continue frying for another minute or so. Add 1/2 the amount of water, cover and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (NOT the salt), including the remaining water, stir, cover, bring to boil again and continue cooking over a low heat for 50 minutes. DO NOT add salt until the soup is fully cooked as the sauerkraut is salty so taste the soup to decide how much salt it needs (I added 1 teaspoon).
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