The Barbarian’s Sunday Food – Korhelyleves (Hungarian Sauerkraut Soup)
A wonderful Old-World peasant food to satisfy the appetite, the soul, the pocketbook, and maybe even the hangover, during this recent cold snap that has gripped much of the nation:
Korhelyleves (Sauerkraut Soup)
1 TBS(tablespoons) vegetable oil
1 LB smoked kielbasa, (I use double smoked hot Magyar from Dohar’s Meats) cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 chopped onion
1 TBS paprika (or more, if desired – a little hot paprika could be added as well if you like)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 cup dry white wine(cheap wine is OK, I don’t recommend cooking wine)
2 1/2 cups sauerkraut, drained and rinsed (fresh sauerkraut is definitely better, if you can only get canned, drain and rinse it in a colander)
1 large potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 TBS tomato paste
7 cups beef broth
salt and pepper to taste.
Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add sausage and onion and cook, stirring often until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add paprika, caraway seeds and wine and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes so flavors are released. Stir in sauerkraut, potato and tomato paste. Add broth, stirring to blend. Cover pot and cook until liquid begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 1 hour, or until potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
If at all possible, use freshly made sauerkraut and kielbasa from a market that specializes in European (especially Eastern European) foods – the quality of this soup will VASTLY improve with the higher quality ingredients. However, this may not be possible for everyone, and the soup will still taste good, but if you want it spicy, add a dash of either hot paprika (Pride of Szeged imported from Hungary is the best, IMO) or cayenne pepper. Personally, I like the hot paprika, and if I’m hungover, a dash of cayenne as well. Remember that I grew up in San Antonio and was weaned on jalapeno juice, so if you don’t like the hot stuff, Pride of Szeged makes perfectly good mild paprika.
Any good soup needs bread on the side. For this, I recommend a good quality French, Italian, pumpernickel, or other baked bread of your choice.
Anyway, I think it’s tasty, it’s affordable, the sauerkraut is loaded with good old Vitamin C, and best of all, it’s so easy to make that even a barbarian can do it.
Photo by HatM under Creative Commons license