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.
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 – KapusniakCourse: Soups, EntreeCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
1 pound sauerkraut, drained
12 ounces smoked Kielbasa, split lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
4 medium potatoes, cubed
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 large soup pot, heat the olive oil, add onions and cook until they soften. Add carrots and cook for few more minutes. Add potatoes and water or broth. Bring to a boil.
- Add the bacon and sausage to the frying pan and cook until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and caraway seeds and cook for a few more minutes. Add sauerkraut and simmer for 5-10 minutes more.
- When the potatoes are almost done, add the bacon, sausage and sauerkraut mixture into the soup pot. Add bay leaf, thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- Return to boil and simmer or another 20-30 minutes until the sauerkraut is tender.