SHARP-FLAVORED SAUERKRAUT SOUP WITH SMOKED MEAT AND TENDER POTATOES; KAPUŚNIAK, POLAND, Kraków & Nature, Poland
Sauerkraut – 4 pounds
Smoked Pork Bones – 13 ounces (369 grams)
Pork Loin – 1 pound
Potatoes – 9 small size potatoes
Carrots – 2 medium size
Onion – 1 large size
Water – 2 1/2 liters
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons
Bay Leaves – 3 leaves
Whole Allspice – 3 pieces
Ground Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon
Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon
Fresh Bread or Baguette – few slices
Kapuśniak – In Eastern Europe, the tradition of fermenting vegetables is passed down from generation to generation. In many households, the vegetable crops, such as cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes are fermented each summer and become essential nutrients during the winter. The fresh vegetables are fermented in glass jars or in wooden barrels and stored in cold cellars. Different country regions and households have their own sauerkraut recipes, resulting in different flavors. The traditional Sauerkraut is made of finely chopped cabbage layered with salt and left to ferment over a period of time. In European cuisines, the sauerkraut is often used in specialty soups, meat stews, vegetarian dumplings and vegetable salads. During the summer, our colorful vegetable garden was the central stage of my grandmother’s cabbage fermenting project. In the large wooden barrel, layers of the shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, salt and a bit of sugar were pressed together to release their natural juices and aromas, and stimulate the fermentation process. The home-made sauerkraut is ambrosial and a primary ingredient in many Polish dishes. Kapuśniak, a traditional Polish soup, is made with sauerkraut, smoked pork bones, pork meat, fresh carrots, onion and spices. Our recipe uses an imported sauerkraut from Poland, home-made in wooden barrels. Our Kapuśniak is a sharp-flavored soup and a hearty main dinner course, served with fresh bread on the side.
Step 1 – In a large cast iron cocotte, heat the olive oil and sauté the chopped onion until golden. Cut the pork meat into small cubes, slice the rack of pork bones; add the meat and the bones to the cocotte and sauté for several minutes.
Step 2 – Combine with the meat the sauerkraut with its juices, the shredded carrots, bay leaves, whole allspice, ground pepper, salt and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook the soup for 2 1/2 hours.
Step 3 – Add the cubed potatoes and continue cooking on low heat for half an hour.
Step 4 – Pour the Kapuśniak into a large bowl and serve with fresh bread on the side.
Step 5 – Taste the tangy flavors of this traditional Polish soup!