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Slow-Cooked Sauerkraut Soup

Most parents are already familiar with how amazing slow cookers are. This appliance is a kitchen staple in busy households because it allows for one-step preparation and makes mealtime super easy. Plus, you’ll have fewer pots and pans to wash afterward, which certainly makes cleanup a breeze. 

You can cook a wide variety of foods in your slow cooker, from dips to desserts. In winter, however, many families use it to make soups more than anything else. Once you do, you’ll never go back to the canned stuff again. With all those flavors simmering together for hours, slow-cooker soup really is hard to beat, and this one is no exception. 

Slow-cooked sauerkraut soup is like a mix between matzo ball soup and a deconstructed Reuben. These foods make a brilliant pairing on their own but, when you allow the flavors to mingle, a new dish is born, and it’ll make your taste buds sing. Creamy mushroom soup balances out the sour taste of the kraut. The vegetables add some crunch and even more flavor while the meat makes the soup mildly spicy and super satisfying. 

Whip up a batch to feed everyone in your family and stay warm on cold winter days. 

What Is Sauerkraut? 

Sauerkraut is a type of finely cut fermented cabbage that has a distinctly sour taste. While you can make your own, this food typically comes in cans or jars and is easy to find in the condiment aisle of your local grocery store. Some shops may also stock sauerkraut in the deli section near the cooked meats and sausages. That’s because these foods share German roots. 

In fact, sauerkraut has been a staple in the German diet since the 1600s. Kielbasa, a Polish-style sausage, finds its way into this recipe, too, making it a fast favorite for anyone who appreciates central European cuisine. 

Sauerkraut also comes with a host of health benefits because it undergoes fermentation. This process involves microorganisms that promote the growth of probiotics, healthy bacteria that can make food more digestible. In turn, these probiotics can increase your gut’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals and strengthen your immune system. 

Maintaining good gut health can also prevent harmful bacteria growth and boost antibody production, which is especially helpful during cold and flu season. If you do get sick, sipping on probiotic-rich sauerkraut soup may even help you recover faster. Don’t hesitate to whip up a batch whenever you start feeling under the weather. 

Gather Your Ingredients 

This recipe calls for more than a dozen ingredients, but don’t let that intimidate you. Most of these items are likely already hiding in your fridge or cupboards, so a trip to the grocery store may be unnecessary. Plus, once you’ve gathered them all, making slow-cooked sauerkraut soup is super easy. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium potato 
  • 1 pound smoked kielbasa 
  • 1 can sauerkraut 
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup 
  • ½ pound mushrooms 
  • 1 cup chicken 
  • 2 medium carrots 
  • 2 celery ribs 
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons dill weed 
  • ½ teaspoon pepper 
  • 3 to 4 bacon strips 

Making Slow-Cooked Sauerkraut Soup

First, prep the kielbasa, chicken and bacon. Cook each one according to package instructions or go the extra mile by using a smoker to prepare the kielbasa. If you take this route, the meat will need to cook for about three to four hours. As long as they’re fatty enough, they should stay juicy. Cube the chicken and kielbasa, crumble the bacon and set aside. 

Next, prep your vegetables. Cut the potato into one-fourth inch cubes, roughly chop your dill weed and slice the carrots, celery and mushrooms. Rinse and drain one can of sauerkraut. Then, add everything except the bacon to a five-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for five to six hours or until the vegetables are fork-tender. Skim off the fat and use a ladle to transfer the soup to bowls. Garnish with bacon and more dill if you so desire. 

This recipe yields 12 cups of soup or enough for six to 12 people. Because slow-cooked sauerkraut soup is so filling, you may be unable to finish it off in one night. Luckily, it’ll keep in the refrigerator for a few days. You may even store it in the freezer if you want to prep a large batch ahead of time so you have a ready-to-eat meal whenever life gets busy. 

Getting Creative in the Kitchen

Once you’ve made slow-cooked sauerkraut soup once, you’ll want to make it again and again. Keep things interesting by experimenting with new flavors and textures. Substitute green beans for celery or sweet potato for your typical Yukon gold. Turnips, parsnips, yellow squash and rutabaga would also taste great in this soup. Just remember to pick veggies that’ll hold up to the six-hour cook time. Otherwise, your soup might be a bit creamier than expected, although there’s nothing wrong with that, either!

This recipe is also super customizable if you have vegetarians in the family. Simply swap the chicken broth for veggie broth and refrain from adding any meat. Just remember that the cream of mushroom soup contains dairy, so vegans might want to steer clear. 

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