1 lb kielbasa*, sliced into coins
1 large onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sauerkraut (drain if using canned/bagged)
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon caraway
freshly ground black pepper
In a nonstick skillet, saute the kielbasa, onion, and garlic until the onion is softened and the kielbasa is browned. Add to a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir. Cook on low 8-10 hours.
*light or turkey kielbasa works fine here.
One thing that happens when you make a gallon of sauerkraut is that you wonder how you are going to use it all. I had some on half smokes but now what? I had heard of sauerkraut soup before but never had it or made it. Now that I had a bunch of really tasty kraut and a few dreary days, I figured it was the time to try it. I decided to use the slow cooker because 1. I’m busy, 2. I was baking that day and didn’t want to have to worry about dinner and 3. while dreary, it isn’t really cold out so why stand over a stove stirring. One could make it on the stove though, just brown the onions, celery, garlic and sausage, add everything else and simmer until the sauerkraut is soft and everything is fully cooked. Maybe it is a little out-of-season but I figure if restaurants can feature soup year round so can I. As for the flavor, even if you if you are a sauerkraut lover, you will love it. It is homey, comforting and makes you think of your ancestors. Well, especially if your ancestors were Eastern European. The sauerkraut gets really soft (and homemade kraut is pretty crisp) and the soup is much less vinegary-salty than you’d think, it is sort more like a very fragrant cabbage soup. I can’t think of a word that describes it better than unami. It isn’t sour, it is just very, very savory.
I thought this was going to be good but we loved, loved, loved this soup. We are not even soup people and literally ate all 4-ish quarts between the two of us in a single night.