kapusniak - polish cabbage soup

Polish Sauerkraut Soup – Kapusniak

The Coal Region of North-eastern Pennsylvania is home to generations of residents with ties to Eastern European heritage; descendants of the many immigrants who came from across Eastern Europe to settle in the north-east PA region and work the Anthracite mines and collieries that dotted the landscape. For many of these families, they learned to be frugal in their home countries and that trait served them well in their new homes.

hracite Coal "Patch Town"
Typical Anthracite Coal Region “Patch Town”

Life in the “patch towns” — towns built up around the mines by the coal companies and pretty much controlled by them — meant times were still tough and cooks learned to make delicious dishes from few or inexpensive ingredients. Eastern Europeans loved cabbage and made their own sauerkraut from cabbage grown in gardens they tended for their households. 

It makes perfect sense that this soup came about as a favorite both in Europe and in the Anthracite region.

Polish Sauerkraut Soup – Kapusniak

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Soups, EntreeCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate


  • 1 pound sauerkraut, drained

  • 12 ounces smoked Kielbasa, split lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices

  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

  • 5 ounces smoked bacon, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

  • 1 sprig thyme (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 quarts water, or chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a soup pot, heat the olive oil, add onions and cook until softened. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and water or broth. Bring to a boil.
  • In a frying pan, place the bacon and sausage; saute until they start to brown. Add the tomato paste and caraway seeds and cook 5 more minutes. Add sauerkraut and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes.
  • When the potatoes are just about done, add the bacon, sausage and sauerkraut mixture into the soup pot. Add bay leaf, thyme (if using) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Return to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until the sauerkraut is tender. Serve.