Polish-y Cabbage Soup with Root Vegetables and Kielbasa

Ingredients:

1 1/4 lb kielbasa, sliced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 large purple top turnip, cubed
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
14 oz coleslaw mix (or the equivalent of hand-shredded cabbage and carrots)
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock

Directions:

Brown the kielbasa in a large skillet. Add it to a 4 or 6-quart slow cooker. the onion, turnip, garlic, potatoes, spices, and vinegar. Add the coleslaw mix/shredded cabbage. If it looks like too much to safely fit in the slow cooker, saute the cabbage briefly into the same pan you browned the kielbasa to to wilt it slightly. Add to the slow cooker and pour in broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Discard bay leaves, stir. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Cabbage soup isn’t the most beautiful looking or sounding dish but you know what? It’s very good! I don’t think I’ve actually ever had cabbage soup until I made this. I set out to make a fresh version of this very very good sauerkraut soup I somehow made way back in 2012 even though it seems like yesterday and ended up with another amazing soup. I think part of the trick is to use very flavorful kielbasa. I picked mine up at a local Polish deli. I like kiełbasa ​czosnkowa best. It’s lightly smoked and flavored with marjoram and garlic. To accent the smokiness I added smoked paprika. Caraway is one of the best things to flavor cabbage with, in my opinion, so of course that had to go in! I’m not claiming this is some super authentic Polish soup by any means (my ability to read Polish was severely taxed while reading Polish cabbage soup recipes and I admit, I gave up and did my own thing) but caraway is a frequent addition and it just makes sense to add it. Caraway is such an underutilized flavor outside of bagels and rye bread. Let’s remedy that!
I “cheated” and used a pre-shredded coleslaw mix (it’s just plain, dry shredded cabbage and some carrot) instead of shredding my own cabbage and carrot. It’s actually cheaper at Aldi to buy the mix than it is to shred my own whole cabbage. It’s a huge time saver and meant I only spent about 10 minutes in the morning chopping the onions, potato, and turnip while browning the sausage and the soup was ready to go! If I hadn’t bought the mix I would have chopped everything up the night before and refrigerated it until I was ready to add it to the slow cooker for more ease in the morning.
The result was so good! Perfectly savory and rich-tasting but full of vegetables and oddly light. The broth came out oddly clear despite the paprika and was so flavorful. Yum. A surprise delight. The perfect meal for a cold January night. 

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