|Don't forget the spoonful of sour cream!|
Not to be morbid, but, if I had the opportune chance to choose the month I would die, it would be my all-time favorite: November. It is what I call an "in-between" month, the transition from one season into another: autumn into winter. In the North, leaves have dropped. In the upper South, they are still sticking around, some with color. The common denominators are the beautiful, low slant of the sun's rays with long, long shadows. And, on mostly-wonderful, gray, damp and sun-less days, no shadows at all. The latter are my favorite. With a bit of fog thrown in. On such days, Nature whispers. It nudges one with cello notes toward warmth: flannel and fleece ... the first fire stoked in the fireplace ... And long-simmered, earthy soups.
Enter this soup with savory sausage flavors and earthy root veggies. Smoky paprika. Caraway ... that patchouli of seedy spices. Honestly, I absolutely loved this soup. With it, I split artisan Kaiser rolls spread with a homemade, Amish butter. Need I say more?
In fact, yes, it is to die for! Enjoy.
First, some notes:
Do not omit the sauerkraut, even if you think you dislike it. You will not be using a lot. Be sure to squeeze out the juice and, if strong-tasting, give it a slight rinse under cold water before the squeeze. I really like Snow Floss fresh kraut in the plastic bag. Fresh kraut is usually found with sausages in the meat department.
Second: Use a good Kielbasa. I am fortunate enough to have access to a locally-made sausage that tastes like the real deal. Boar's Head also makes a great stand-by.
Use the smallest new potatoes you can find. Mine were less that 1.5 inches. If large, simply slice into chunks.
Caraway seed and cabbage is a perfect marriage. Don't admit.
If not using fat back, you could use a bit of bacon, or neither; instead, just use a bit of olive oil to brown/sweat the onions/sausage mixture.
I use Campbell's chicken stock and beef broth. Of course, homemade is even better.
- 1.5 - 2 lbs. smoked, artisan Kielbasa, sliced into rings and some into quarters
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced, and the rings cut into half-moons/quarters
- 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon spicy smoked paprika (do not omit)
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, slightly crushed (do not omit)
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup sliced fresh carrots, preferably the kind with green tops attached
- 3/4 - 1 cup teeny-tiny baby red/yellow new potatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 + cup fresh sauerkraut, slightly squeezed to get rid of excess juice (do not omit)
- 1 medium head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste
- 1, 10-3/4 ounce can chicken stock
- 1, 10-3/4 ounce can beef broth
- 3, 10-3/4 ounce cans of water
- 3-4 slices fat-back, rinsed (optional)
- Sour cream for garnish
In a 2-3 quart stock pot (mine has an 8-inch diameter) over medium heat, add the fatback/bacon and cook until it begins to render fat. You are not cooking it to the crispy stage. Add sausage and onion. Stir for several minutes just until the sausage begins to show some brown. Add sliced garlic, paprika, caraway. Stir until fragrant. Add carrots and potatoes. Coat with seasoning mixture. Add chicken stock, beef broth and water. Bring to a simmer. Add cabbage and sauerkraut. Mix. Add salt and pepper. Taste and re-season if necessary. Cover. Bring to a slow boil then reduce heat to just a simmer and cook for about 1 hour or more until cabbage is tender. Serve with a dark rye bread and, if desired, garnish with sour cream.