Last night my kitchen smelled very Christmassy, as I made Hungarian sauerkraut soup. Not that Hungarian sauerkraut soup is something that you’d find at Estonian Christmas table, but sautéed sauerkraut is definitely there. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I had sauerkraut every day for two weeks during my last Christmas holiday at home. I had got to Estonia on December 17th, and my mum had lovingly made me a welcome meal of black pudding, roast pork and sautéed sauerkraut. Her rationale was that I probably had missed that food, which was true. I had missed it and it was delicious. But then I continued to have pretty much the same meal with minor variations (as in: sometimes with lingonberry jam on the side, sometimes with pickled pumpkin on the side) until I flew back to Edinburgh on January 1st. You know, Christmas meals at home, at paternal grandmother’s, at maternal grandmother’s, at friends’ places – you cannot avoid eating sauerkraut. And as you usually make a huge potful of the stuff, you eat leftovers for ever. Very tasty, but it can get a bit repetitive at the end :)
So when I opened a jar of sauerkraut or sour cabbage last night, the initial waft of sauerkraut instantly reminded me of Christmas. And as I added other ingredients, including smoked Polish sausages, the smell got more and more wintry and Christmassy…
Back to the soup-making now. According to my source, this is Hungarian sausage soup – Kolbászleves. I am not sure if Szofi of Chili&Vanilia agrees, but the author of the Estonian language book ‘Ungari köök’ (that’s ‘Hungarian kitchen’ for those of you who don’t speak the language:), Peeter Kard, is considered to be an expert on that particular cuisine back home. Although I have been to Hungary, I haven’t had kolbászleves there, so I have to believe Mr Kard’s claim for authenticity.
The soup is easy to make, and tasty addition to any winter menu. Serves 4.
Hungarian sauerkraut and smoked sausage soup Kolbászleves
450-500 grams sauerkraut (canned is fine, I used Polish Krakus brand)
100-200 grams smoked sausage (I used Polish Krakow sausage)
1 tsp of caraway seeds
0.5-1 chopped onion (I used 1 red onion)
40 grams of lard (I bet Hungarian chefs would use the special smoked and paprika-cured Hungarian fat, whereas I used plain butter)
3-4 Tbsp plain flour
1-2 tsp Hungarian paprika powder
sugar, if necessary
Sour cream or crème fraiche
Drain the sauerkraut and add enough water to the drained liquid, so you’d end up with 1 litre of liquid. Bring to the boil, add sauerkraut, sliced sausage, and caraway seeds
Simmer on a medium heat, until cabbage is almost tender. Taste – if the cabbage is too sour, add a generous pinch or two of sugar. (Sauerkraut is inevitably sour. But then there is sour sauerkraut and very sour sauerkraut. Too sour sauerkraut is not so good :)
Heat the lard/butter, add chopped onion and sauté until soft. Add flour, paprika powder, mix thoroughly. Then add another cup of water, and heat through. You end up with a reddish-brown roux.
Simmer, until cabbage is soft and tender.
Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, and enjoy with sliced sour rye bread.
UPDATE 14.1.2007: Elise of Simple Recipes mentioned this recipe, too.