Polish Sauerkraut Soup (Kapusniak)

Sauerkraut soup
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  • Total: 100 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 90 mins
  • Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
320 Calories
13g Fat
21g Carbs
30g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 320
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 98mg 33%
Sodium 2232mg 97%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Protein 30g
Calcium 77mg 6%
*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.)

Smoked hocks or a meaty ham bone adds another layer to this sauerkraut soup. Some people thicken the soup with a roux or add potatoes, but my mother always used barley, which I've done here. She never used caraway seeds but others do. It's good in all these variations. Serve with hearty dark rye bread, and you've got a meal in a bowl. As with most soups, it tastes better the next day. The soup can also be turned into creamed sauerkraut soup.


  • 2 pounds ham hocks or meaty ham bone
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley or 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup barley (rinsed and drained (not quick-cooking)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sauerkraut (drained and reserve liquid; rinsed and chopped)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place pork and water in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Bring to a boil, skimming off foam. Add onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, and parsley. Return to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 45 minutes or until meat falls off the bones.

  3. Remove meat from broth, dice and return to the pot with barley, sauerkraut, and caraway seeds, if using. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 45 minutes.

  4. If soup becomes too thick, add meat stock or water. If a more sour taste is desired, add some reserved kraut juice.

  5. Adjust seasonings. Remove ​the ​bay leaf.

  6. Serve in heated bowls with hearty rye bread.