Many families in Slovakia make sauerkraut soup (Kapustnica) for Christmas. The exact ingredients can vary: some make it without meat, some make it with bacon and mushrooms, some add cream.
Kapustica must be made with real fermented sauerkraut, not vinegar based jars of cabbage.
Slovaks use mushrooms called ‘dubaky’ (a species of boletus) but any kinds of mushrooms can be used such as white buttons, for example.
- 1 large onion
- 3 cups of squeezed sauerkraut
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 bay leafs
- 1/2 cup dried mushrooms (or fresh)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of bacon
- 1 cup of cubed polish sausage
- 1 cup of pork shank
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbs of red paprika
- 2 tbs of sugar
- 1 box of chicken stock
- 2 cups of cubed potatoes
- Melt bacon in a pot. Add onion and slowly cook.
- Add sauerkraut. I usually drain it first and set the juice aside. Sometimes I use it later depending on the kraut’s brand. Some brands don’t have strong enough flavor. Some brands, on other hand, might be too strong and vinegary. In such case you will need to rinse it once to ensure milder and more balanced flavor. If you rinse it and the soup still tastes too vinegary you can add some more water or chicken stock.
- Add sauerkraut to bacon and onion mix, add sausage, garlic, paprika, pork shank, salt and pepper and stir. Add enough chicken stock to cover the sauerkraut by two to three inches. I sometimes use water and chicken bullion instead of chicken stock. Add caraway seeds and two bay leaves. Cover and let simmer until soft, at least for an hour.
- Boil potatoes in a separate small pot.
- Add mushrooms to the soup and cook for 5-10 minutes.
- Add potatoes. By this time the soup should have a beautiful golden color.
- At this point I always taste the soup and add sugar and perhaps either more water or more leftover sauerkraut juice depending on the strength of the flavor. I prefer mild sauerkraut flavor thats not too vinegary.
- Serve garnished with a spoon of sour cream if desired. I personally prefer no cream.