Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Kapusniak (Polish Sauerkraut Soup)

So I’ve been kinda on a soup kick the last couple of weeks. I thought it was only proper to follow-up my Dill Pickle Soup recipe with another of my favorite Polish soups Kapusniak. Now, Kapusniak like Bigos can have many different variations and there really aren’t very many rules when it comes to this one pot meal. I like mine extremely thick and full of meat. My Stepdad likes his with more broth and less meat and he is from Poland. So who is right? We both are, as always eat the way you like right? Right. I like to make my initial broth the day before I finish the soup so I can cool it and remove the fat that rises to the top. Think of this recipe as a guideline. You can follow it exactly if you like or compromise with what you have on hand in the fridge. So here is what you need to make this recipe the way I do. I had some chicken wings in the freezer I threw in the broth as well just to use them up. Not sure if it really made a difference but if you have that left over piece of something or other hanging around in the freezer throw it in unless it is freezer burned of course.


2 to 2.5 pounds of bone in pork ribs (I use left over rib tips and flap meat from my St. Louis cut spareribs)

3 quarts of water (2 quarts after the 2 hour simmer)

1 – 24oz jar of sauerkraut with juice (I like Bavarian style made with white wine)

1/2 small head of cabbage chopped small

1 onion chopped

3 carrots shredded

2 to 3 medium ribs of celery finely sliced

1 medium potato peeled and chopped (I like Yukon Gold)

1/4 cup of long cooking Pearl Barley

2 tablespoons of double strength tomato paste (I like Amore brand)

2 Bay Leaves

2 whole allspice

2 Tablespoons of reduced sodium Better than Bouillon beef base

1 pound of smoked Polish sausage sliced into rounds

Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: The day before you want to eat the soup, simmer the pork ribs uncovered in 3 quarts of water for two hours. Remove from heat, cool overnight in the fridge leaving the ribs in the broth. Simmer the barley in water for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain reserving for the next day. The following day remove the fat from the top of the broth and discard. Remove the rib meat from the bones and set aside. Measure your broth and top off with water if necessary until you have two quarts of broth. Place all of the remaining ingredients along with the reserved meat into the broth. Bring to a simmer, cover with the lid slightly cracked and simmer for one hour until the fresh cabbage and vegetables are tender.  If possible serve with a Sourdough Rye and butter.


Polish Dill Pickle Soup (Zupa Ogorkowa)

A lot of people have never heard of this soup, and many others seem to make funny faces just at the mention of its name.  I have to give credit to my mom for teaching me how to make this soup. However, never being able to leave well enough alone I’ve made some changes through the years. Like all soups, you can be flexible with the ingredients in this recipe to suit your tastes. The following recipe is the one that I have created. I will include the brand names of the items that I use but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Once you have this soup you will find yourself making it regularly and sharing the love of this Polish soup with friends and family. Legend has it that this soup was created for pregnant women in Poland who were having cravings for dill pickles. Now I have mentioned being flexible, however the one area I am never flexible on is on the pickles I use. I strictly use Krakus Polish Dill Pickles as I think they have the perfect balance of flavors for this soup. Ok, maybe I have strayed a few times with other brands but I have always come back to the Krakus. Whatever you do at least use Polish Dill Pickles and not some of the large name brands from the grocery stores. Trust me on this, the flavor of the brine is different. Here is what you will need to dazzle your friends and family with a unique soup that deserves a place in your repertoire.


2 quarts of chicken stock (see cooks note at the bottom for my variation)

2 medium carrots shredded (I use a standard hand grater)

1 medium potato peeled and diced (I like Yukon Gold)

3 medium celery stalks finely sliced

5 to 8 shredded Polish Dill Pickles depending on the size (Polish pickles are smaller than other brands in the large chain stores)

Pickle Brine to taste (depending on personal preference)

1/4 cup of long cooking pearl barley

1/2 cup of whole milk

2 tablespoons of flour

5 tablespoons of sour cream

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste

COOKS NOTE: I have used several broth variations for this recipe through the years including homemade. What I have found to be the best and many have agreed is the following: 2 cups of Swanson beef broth (yes beef). 2 cups of Swanson chicken broth. 1 quart of water mixed with 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Better Than Bullion chicken base.

DIRECTIONS: Simmer the barley in a separate pan for about 30 minutes on low, drain and rinse, set aside. Combine the broth, carrots, potato, celery, and the cooked barley and simmer until the potato is tender but not falling apart (about 8 to 10 minutes). Add the shredded pickles and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and add brine at this time if desired. Whisk the milk with the flour in one bowl until smooth. Beat the egg with the sour cream in another bowl until smooth. You need to temper both the milk and flour mixture as well as the sour cream and egg mixture. Here is how to do it. Take a ladle of the hot soup and put it in the flour/milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Add to the soup and simmer until slightly thickened. Do the same with the sour cream/egg mixture as well. Remove the soup from the heat and add the sour cream mixture making sure there are no clumps and stirring well. Do not boil after this point or the soup can curdle. I have found that if you cover the soup with a lid and leave on the hot (but turned off) burner this helps dissolve  any clumps until you get better at creaming this soup. I love to serve this with thick sliced European sour dough bread. Grunt, grown, enjoy and wonder how you ever lived without this wonderful soup.

Farro and Vegetable Soup (Vegetarian)

I have had a busy couple of weeks and have not been able to post any recipes. However, the cooking continued and the kitchen was busy. I also made a mistake and somehow deleted all of my photos during the transfer into my media library. As I said before I wont post recipes without pictures so I will have to remake the recipes. This was a  major setback for me but I’m back in action and ready to roll. The following recipe really hit the spot when I was recovering from a cold. It is also very hearty and healthy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. This recipe is adapted from The New York Times Recipes for Health.




1 1/2 cups Farro (spelt) rinsed

1 ounce dried porcini or mixed wile mushrooms

olive oil

1 onion chopped

1/2 pound carrots chopped

2 celery stalks chopped

1/2 pound cabbage shredded or chopped

2 to 4 garlic cloves 

1 bouquet garni with 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs of parsley, and a parmesan cheese rind if available tied in a cheesecloth.

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 1/2 quarts vegetable stock

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup parsley chopped

shredded Gruyère cheese

Directions:Soak the Farro in water for an hour and drain. Place dried mushrooms in a glass measuring cup and top with 2 cups of boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth reserving the mushrooms and liquid. Chop and set aside. Saute the onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and cabbage and cover. Saute for 5 more minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the chopped parsley and the shredded Gruyère cheese. Salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 1 hour or until the Farro is soft. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve topped with the cheese.

Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup (Vegetarian or Not)

This thick hearty soup was just the thing to go with the kale salad for dinner tonight. I’m really starting to enjoy roasting the vegetables before using them in soups. It adds an extra dimension of flavor over just simmering them in the broth. The original recipe called for chicken broth but it is equally good keeping it vegetarian.  

Inspired by Eating for England Cooking Blog


2 sweet potatoes peeled and cubed

4 carrots peeled and cubed the same size as the sweet potatoes

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons of cumin

scant 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika

1/2  13.6 ounce can of coconut milk

20 to 24 ounces of vegetable broth (or chicken) or more depending on the size of the sweet potatoes and carrots

sprouted or roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the sweet potatoes and carrots with the oil and toss with the spices. Place on a cookie sheet and roast for about 40 minutes. Combine the rest of the ingredients except for the pumpkin seeds in a pot and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Simmer until warmed through. Serve topped with the pumpkin seeds.

Cabbage Soup (Kapusniak ze swiezej kapusty)

“Of all the things you cook in your kitchen, surely soup is the most personal. It needn’t have a name, it need never taste the same, and you may never remember how you made it.”  Monica Sheridan, The Art of Irish Cooking 1965. 

In my opinion nothing could be more true. I can remember countless times throwing together a great soup with scraps from the refrigerator, not taking notes, and never being able to re-create it. However, this soup is one that I make regularly but have never measured the ingredients until yesterday. That’s the one thing about knowing your soup pot. My mom has this beat up old pot. The lid is dented, the sides are dented, the black handle on the lid is now gray from oxidation and it is cracked as well. That pot has probably seen more soup than some commercial restaurant pots. I’ve watched her make cabbage soup, kapusniak, potato soup, tomato soup, dill pickle soup, beef barley soup (ok, you get the point) in this pot and never measured a thing. I once asked her how many quarts it was and of course the answer was “I don’t know”. I have a modern version of that pot, it’s an enameled cast iron and I’m not sure how many quarts it is either. So I guess my long-winded point is, learn your pot and never measure again. Now I did measure for the sake of this blog. I’m sure if I said fill the pot one inch from the top with cabbage, add the rest of the ingredients, cover with water and simmer no one would attempt to make this. This recipe is a vegetarian version of the cabbage soup I grew up on and my mom still makes to this day.

Cooks notes: I use Bragg Liquid Aminos in this recipe. They are available at any health food store or even at Kroger now. It is kind of a soy sauce replacement. It is much lower in sodium and has a great flavor. If you can’t find it you could use Maggi or Kitchen Bouquet. However, if you use either of those cut back to a few dashes as they have a much more condensed flavor and higher sodium content. Also I’m not sure if those products are certified vegetarian. 


10 cups of hand chopped cabbage

1 medium onion chopped small

1 large carrot shredded

1 large or 2 small celery stalks chopped small

8 cups of water

1 rounded tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon vegetarian soup base

3 small squeezes of Bragg Liquid Aminos (see cooks notes) then to taste

2 whole allspice 

1 to 2 fresh chopped tomatoes or 1 to 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (I like Amore brand double strength)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: (Here’s the cool part). Place everything in the pot. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover most of the way until the cabbage is to your liking. Enjoy!

Tuscan Style Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup (Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly)

Originally when I picked up a $1.30 bag of dried cannellini beans a vegetarian dish was the furthest thing from my mind. I had visions of half the bag becoming  Creole white beans and rice simmered with a ham hock, andouille sausage, and ham. The other half would become a Tuscan style bean soup with Italian sausage and chicken broth. I ran the recipes by my wife and she promptly advised me that since starting this site we have been eating a lot more meat than usual. I thought OK, no big deal, I’ll make a vegetarian version of both. I haven’t figured out the Creole beans and rice yet but what follows was an impromptu meeting of myself, a bag of dried beans, and a vegetable drawer.

Cooks Notes: There are several options (in my opinion) of using beans in this dish. I used a pressure cooker which I love. If you don’t have one you need to buy one. Don’t be afraid, the new ones are fool-proof and not dangerous like some of the older models. These beans were done in 16 minutes in the pressure cooker. If I had made them on the stove top they would have taken an hour or more not counting the soup simmer time. Canned beans are always an option to make life a bit easier. I however threw this dish together and have not tried it with canned beans. I’m sure it will be great but now you have my disclaimer. Also for the budget minded people I used 65 cents worth of beans in this dish and it probably makes around 6 to 8 servings. Dried beans are inexpensive! 


8 ounces of dried cannellini beans soaked overnight  (or 2 15oz cans rinsed and drained)

2 onions one diced one cut in half

4 cloves of garlic 2 diced or pressed and 2 peeled and left whole

3 large celery stalks 2 diced and 1 quartered

2 carrots diced

1/4 cup of fresh fennel bulb (white part only)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1/2 wife said a bit too spicy! I liked it.)

1 quart dark vegetable broth (6 cups if using canned beans)

1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes drained (I like Dei Fratteli)

3 large handfuls of kale about 4 to 5 cups chopped

6 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

3 tablespoons fresh basil chopped

Beans pressure cooker: Place soaked beans, the halved onion, 2 whole garlic cloves, and the quartered celery stalk into the pressure cooker. Cook  following the directions that came with your model. Mine said 3 1/2 cups water. Cook under high pressure until done 12 to 16 minutes. Remove vegetables and discard. Set beans and cooking liquid aside.

Beans slow simmer method:  Place soaked beans in a dutch oven and cover with about 2 inches of water. Add the above listed vegetables and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs or until soft adding water if necessary. Remove vegetables and discard. Set aside the beans and their cooking water.

Canned beans: Drain, rinse, and set aside along with the 2 extra cups of vegetable broth.

Directions for putting it all together: Place 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a dutch oven or soup pot. Saute the onion, carrots, celery, and fennel bulb for about 5 minutes or until partially soft. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Add drained tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper. Simmer for about 5 more minutes to thicken the tomato liquid. Add the beans and broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chopped kale, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the parsley and simmer 10 more minutes or until the kale is soft. Add the basil and stir. Serve and enjoy.

Curried Ginger Butternut Squash Soup

Tonight’s post is all about keeping it simple and using what’s available to you without going to the store. I came home from work chilled, feeling under the weather, and thinking about soup. I began rummaging around the kitchen and the refrigerator in search of something easy to turn into soup.  I couldn’t help but noticing a butternut squash sitting on my breakfast nook table. It was the same butternut squash that had been sitting there for quite some time patiently waiting to be utilized. I started thinking about how many people I know who don’t like squash. I also know just as many who like squash but are intimidated by it. Now I know the name squash isn’t that appealing and they are kinda funny looking, however they are very delicious and versatile as well. So what was for dinner? Butternut squash soup and a mixed green salad tossed with a simple vinaigrette.

Cook’s notes: So if you read my homepage I had mentioned that I would share not only successes but failures as well. Although this was by no means a failure I made some modifications along the way which are reflected in the ingredients below. I had only skim milk on hand and used that. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder. When I tasted the soup at the table I immediately realized skim milk didn’t cut it. The 1/2 teaspoon curry powder was a bit much as well. However, had I had the heavier milk or cream I think it would have been fine. Also at the first taste I thought this soup was screaming for some coconut milk. Maybe next time. If anyone tries this and uses heavier cream or makes any modifications please let me know how it turns out, Ken      

Ingredients for the soup

1 butternut squash approximately two pounds cut into small chunks

4 cups of water

1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon vegetarian soup base

2 medium onions chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced or chopped

2 cups of milk, half and half or a combination of both (not exceeding two cups)

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon of curry powder

salt and white pepper to taste

Directions for soup

Mix everything except the milk in a pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to a medium simmer. Simmer for ten minutes or until the squash softens. Remove from heat. Stir in the milk. (This is where an immersion blender is priceless). Using an immersion blender, blend until the soup is smooth and creamy. Alternately, remove soup in batches and blend in a blender. Return to pot and rewarm to desired temperature. Enjoy.

Ingredients for the vinaigrette 

1 shallot chopped very fine

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons vinegar (red wine, white wine, balsamic, or a flavored one such as tarragon)

1/2 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste.


Mix everything in a blender until emulsified. Alternately whisk everything in a bowl with a wire whisk until emulsified. Serve over salad of your choice.

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