Dive into the rich flavors of Polish cuisine with our hearty sauerkraut soup recipe. It’s a perfect blend of vegetables and meat that promises to satisfy your taste buds!
Polish sauerkraut soup is a flavorful and filling dish. It takes some time to prepare due to a lengthy ingredient list and a fair amount of peeling and chopping. However, the result is a delicious soup loaded with vegetables and meat, perfect as a standalone meal.
I usually cook a large batch that lasts my wife and me for about three days, which is what this recipe is designed for.
For a quicker soup option, take a look at my Polish tomato soup recipe.
If you’re making Cabbage Soup for the first time, read the ingredients notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips. If you’re a veteran, feel free to jump to the recipe card.
Ingredients Notes and Substitutes
- Potatoes. Any potatoes you use for soups work.
- Onion. Yellow onion is the default option, but a red onion or some shallots should work, too.
- Celery root and parsley root. A little goes a long way for both. Don’t sweat it if you only have one of the two.
- Leek. Optional but highly recommended.
- Allspice berries & bay leaves. The classic combo for Polish dishes.
- Marjoram. In Polish cuisine, we add marjoram to most sauerkraut dishes, and it’s no different here. It balances its acidity and supposedly helps with digesting the fermented cabbage.
- Bacon. Add more sausage if you’re out of bacon.
- Kielbasa. Any Polish-style smoked sausage should work here. Add more bacon if you’re out of kielbasa.
How to Make Polish Sauekraut Soup
- Veggie Prep. Begin by peeling and chopping your vegetables: celery, potatoes, carrots, and parsley. Cut them into small-sized cubes for even cooking. Then, slice the leek in half lengthwise and then cut into half-moon shapes.
- Start Cooking. Grab a large pot (5qt or larger), pour in the water, and add the chopped potatoes, carrots, celery root, parsley root, and leek. Toss in the allspice berries, bay leaves, and salt. Bring the pot to a boil and let the ingredients cook for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes have softened.
- Prep Sauerkraut. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the sauerkraut by pouring water over it and then draining. To remove excess water, squeeze the sauerkraut with your fists. Once drained, place the sauerkraut on a cutting board and chop it into shorter lengths. A few cuts along the length and width should suffice, ensuring the strings aren’t too long.
- Add Sauerkraut. After the vegetables have been boiling for 40 minutes and the potatoes are nice and soft, add the chopped sauerkraut to the pot. Continue to boil the soup for another 20 minutes.
- Prep Meat. While the sauerkraut is cooking with the vegetables, dice the bacon, onion, and kielbasa into small pieces.
- Cook Meat. Fry the bacon in a pan for a few minutes until it starts to release its fat. Once the bacon has released enough fat, add the chopped onion to the pan and fry until it becomes soft and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Finally, add the cubed kielbasa to the pan. Since the sausage is precooked, you only need to warm it up, allowing some pieces to brown slightly and the flavors to mix. This should take a few more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Remove Herbs. Once the soup has cooked for 20 minutes with the sauerkraut, take it off the heat and try to remove and discard the allspice berries and bay leaves. Leaving them isn’t a big deal, but you need to remember to remove them when serving or tell your diners to pay attention.
- Combine. Add the sautéed onion, bacon, and kielbasa to the soup pot, and add the marjoram if using. Stir everything together, bring the soup back to a boil, and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
- Taste-Test. Taste the soup and season if needed. Add salt if it lacks flavor, pepper if it could use some heat, or a splash of vinegar or lemon juice if it’s not acidic enough. The soup is supposed to be slightly on the acidic side, but it’s up to you.
Here are a couple of things to remember when making the soup:
- It’s Better the Second Day. Soups, including this sauerkraut soup, often taste better on the second day. The flavors have more time to meld together, so making this one in advance is a great idea.
- Add Extra Fat if Needed. If the bacon you’re using doesn’t release enough fat, you can add a tablespoon of butter or cooking oil to the pan to sauté the onion.
- Adjust the Water Amount. If you follow the recipe exactly, you’ll end up with a fairly dense soup (high content-to-water ratio). If you prefer thinner soups, just pour in more water. You might also need to add more salt if you go with more water.
- Cook a Big Pot. This soup is fairly time-consuming, so I suggest cooking a big pot that’s enough for at least a couple of days. You can scale it down if you wish, but keep in mind you’ll still spend quite some time on prep.
How to Serve
This Polish sauerkraut soup is a rich blend of vegetables and meat, making it a hearty choice for any meal. You can serve it on its own or pair it with your favorite bread or baguette, adding a satisfying crunch to your meal.
Storage & Reheating
Let the soup cool to about room temperature, then put the lid on and place it in the fridge. It’ll stay safe and maintain quality for at least 3 to 4 days when chilled.
To reheat, simply place the pot on the stove over high heat, bring it to a boil, let it bubble for a minute or two, and serve. Bringing the soup to a rolling boil ensures it’s safe to eat.
Polish Sauerkraut Soup
- 2.5 qt water
- 1 1/2 lbs potatoes 4 – 5 medium potatoes
- 1 carrot
- 1/4 celery root
- 1 onion medium
- 1/2 parsley root
- 1/2 leek
- 4 allspice berries
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1 lbs sauerkraut
- 5 oz bacon
- 9 oz kielbasa
- Veggie Chopping: Peel and chop celery, potatoes, carrots, parsley, and leek into small cubes and half-moons.
- Initial Cooking: In a large pot, combine water with potatoes, carrots, celery root, parsley root, leek, allspice, bay leaves, and salt, and cook for about 40 minutes.
- Sauerkraut Prep: Rinse and drain sauerkraut, then roughly chop.
- Sauerkraut Addition: Add chopped sauerkraut to the pot and boil everything for another 20 minutes.
- Meat Prep: Dice bacon, onion, and kielbasa. Then fry the bacon, add and cook the onion until translucent, and finally brown the kielbasa.
- Herb Removal: After 20 minutes of boiling with sauerkraut, remove allspice berries and bay leaves from the soup.
- Combine Ingredients: Add sautéed meats and marjoram to the soup, then boil for 5 more minutes.
- Seasoning Check: Taste and season the soup with salt, pepper, vinegar, or lemon juice as needed.