Cabbage soup? It does not have the best reputation, but my cabbage soup is legendary.
My Czech-born mother passed down this recipe to me verbally and it is probably only one of many recipes for cabbage soup Slav style. It is a meaty soup made of meat, potatoes and of course Sauerkraut, which is pickled cabbage (for my swedish friends: surkål. Finns att köpa hos t.ex. ICA och då t.o.m. som ekologist variant). Sauerkraut is very popular in Eastern Europe but also an important part of many meals in Central Europe/Germany/Austria. One may be sceptical, but whoever has eaten it once changed his mind. Even my Swedish relatives, who did not know what to expect exactly, really liked it.
I always make a bigger amount as one can freeze it in portions. So you always have a quick meal available.
Ingredients for approximately 3 l soup:
- 5 big waxy potatoes
- 1 kg Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage)
- ca. 1 kg of ham. It is a cured ham (not dried!) but raw.
- 150 ml cream
- 100 ml creme fraîche
- 150 ml sour cream
- ground caraway
- 2 bayleafs
- whole pepper corns
- juniper berries
- 3-5 pimento corns
- some instant soup powder, if needed
Peel the potatoes and cut them in 1×1 cm big cubes. Put them in a pot with cold water, bring to boil, season with salt, some ground caraway and boil for about 7 to 8 minutes.
Cook the ham (it takes about an hour per kilo), then let it rest for 30 minutes in the stock. I usually cook the ham like a beef stock with vegetables. First of all you need some of the stock for the soup later and secondly you can make a wonderful, clear “ham-soup” that you can enjoy with e.g. barley and coked potato cubes in it.
Rinse down the Sauerkraut with hot water briefly and cut it into 3 cm long strips.
Put the auerkraut into your biggest pot, cover it with cold water and bring everything to boil. Season with Salt, Juniperberries, Pimento seeds and bayleaf. I always put all the berries and seeds into a tea egg and add the whole thing. The advantage is that you can take out all the spices at once in the end. I find nothing worse that biting into a Juniperberry. This is prevented by that method.
Boil for about 20 minutes.
Cut the ham into cubes.
Add the boiled potatoes and the water to the cooked Sauerkraut, stir and add some of the stock. The soup must not taste like stock but it should have a hint of meat taste. If necessary, add some water, depending on how thick or thin you want to have the soup in the end. Season with instant soup powder, if needed.
Mix Cream, sour cream and creme fraîche until its smooth and add to the soup. At last add the meat and season again, if needed.
The soup tastes even better the next day and as I mentioned above, it is easy to portion and freeze. Fall can come!