It’s Monday afternoon, and a cool, overcast, rainy, Autumn day. I worked all weekend so worked a couple of hours early this morning and am taking the rest of the day off. I’m not, normally, a huge soup fan, but when the weather gets like this I find myself, occasionally, craving a bowl of soup. I’m more of a stew, or chili, kind of guy. The last few days, though, I’ve been craving soup, specifically Sauerkraut soup, which is strange as I’ve never made any such thing, or even eaten something like it. All I know is that a few days ago I got the idea, in my head, that I wanted a soup made with sauerkraut, redolent with paprika, and of all things, it had to be vegetarian. Don’t ask me why, especially the vegetarian part. I try not to spend too much time inside my head as it can be a scary place!
So, I’m craving this soup that I’ve never had and I remember that not only do I have a large batch of homemade sauerkraut down in the fridge, but I’ve got a large, experimental batch of kohlrabi sauerkraut in the fermentation crock, thanks to my wife. It has been fermenting for about 3 weeks and is coming along nicely although I will probably let the rest ferment for another 2 weeks or so and get a little more sour.
So, how does one make kohlrabi sauerkraut? It is not much different than making regular sauerkraut, with a few differences. Up in Wisconsin, they grow some pretty big kohlrabi, some of them weighing 3-4 pounds each. My wife bought 2 of them to experiment with. She peeled them, cut them into chunks then used our food processor to shred the kohlrabi. Usually, the next step in making sauerkraut is to pound the heck out of the cabbage, while salting it. This both tenderizes the cabbage and helps draw out its moisture which in turn creates its own brine. Because kohlrabi is not nearly as resilient as cabbage she skipped this step and instead went straight to packing the kohlrabi into the fermentation vessel. Meanwhile she made a brine from 8 cups of water with 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of kosher salt added. She let that cool to room temperature then covered the kohlrabi with the brine, weighted it down and sealed up the fermentation crock. If you want to know more about making sauerkraut, then check out my older post on it here.
On to the soup…while I used the kohlrabi sauerkraut in this soup, it can definitely be made with regular sauerkraut, which is probably what I will use the next time I make it as I doubt the kohlrabi sauerkraut will be around long enough. I also used a mix of paprika in this soup. I used some Hungarian Hot Paprika and some Spanish Smoked Paprika. I wanted the smoked paprika in there since I wasn’t using any meat, and the flavors of this soup definitely called for some bacon, which you could also use. Feel free to use any style, or mix of styles, of paprika that you choose. Just keep the final amount the same. Finally the recipe calls for 3 European style long peppers. I’m not more specific as I am not sure what I used. We belong to a CSA and in one of our recent boxes received a plethora of unnamed peppers.
2 medium Onions, peeled and diced
3 each European style long, thin peppers, seeded and diced
3 medium Tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp. Hungarian Hot Paprika
1 Tbs. Spanish Smoked Paprika
1 pound Sauerkraut, drained
1 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
4 cups Water
Sour Cream (garnish, optional)
Apple, peeled and diced (garnish, optional)
In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onions and the peppers.
Saute until the vegetables start to brown. Don’t let them burn but don’t be afraid to let them brown up some. This will help to develop a depth to the flavor.
Add the paprika and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Finally, add the sauerkraut and water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and diced apple.