Polish Cabbage and Sauerkraut Soup (Kapuśniak)

Cabbage (kapuśniak) soup

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Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
286 Calories
11g Fat
22g Carbs
25g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 286
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 445mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 6g 23%
Protein 25g
Calcium 102mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Polish kapuśniak is made with fresh cabbage, sauerkraut, and vegetables in a beefy-tomato broth. Make this soup one day in advance so it can be defatted before serving. Many kapuśniaks are made with either fresh cabbage or sauerkraut, but this recipe packs a double punch. Serve with Polish light rye bread for a complete meal. This makes a large quantity, so it's a good candidate for the freezer. There's also a Ukrainian version of kapuśniak that is equally delicious.


  • 4 slices chopped bacon
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 celery ribs cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 peeled carrots cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small head shredded cabbage
  • 2 pounds unsmoked pork spareribs, cut into 2-rib pieces
  • 1 meaty ham bone or ham hock
  • 1 pound sauerkraut, drained, juice reserved
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 4 quarts beef stock
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Garnish: Chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Garnish: Sour cream

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, sear pork ribs on both sides over medium-high heat. There should be enough fat on the ribs so additional fat should not be required. If the ribs are very lean, lightly spray the pot with cooking spray before searing. Remove browned ribs to a plate and reserve.

  3. Add bacon to the pot and fry until most of the fat has rendered out. Add onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, and garlic to the pot and cook until onion is translucent. Add fresh cabbage and cook until it collapses. Return spareribs to the pot and add ham bone or hock, sauerkraut, tomato sauce, beef stock, paprika, bay leaf, and sugar. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 2 hours or until meat falls from the bones.

  4. Remove ribs and ham bone or hock from the soup, let cool slightly and remove all bones and cartilage from meat. Chop meat into bite-size pieces, if necessary, and return to the pot. If you prefer a slightly more sour soup, add some of the reserved sauerkraut juice.

  5. Cool the soup in an ice-water bath and then refrigerate. The next day, skim off the congealed fat and reheat. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.

  6. Enjoy!