Polish Sauerkraut Soup (Kapusniak)

Polish Sauerkraut Soup, known as Kapusniak, is a traditional dish that is both hearty and tangy. This comforting soup is made with sauerkraut, smoked meat, and vegetables, creating a rich and flavorful experience. Perfect for cold days, Kapusniak is a favorite in Polish cuisine and offers a taste of authentic Eastern European home cooking.


  • 1 pound smoked pork (such as kielbasa or smoked ribs)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups sauerkraut, drained and roughly chopped
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or lard
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)


1. Prepare the Smoked Meat:
In a large pot, add the smoked pork and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to extract the smoky flavor. Remove the meat from the pot, reserving the cooking liquid. Set the meat aside to cool, then chop into bite-sized pieces.

2. Sauté Vegetables:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil or lard over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

3. Add Carrots, Celery, and Potato:
Stir in the sliced carrots, celery, and diced potato. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add Sauerkraut and Broth:
Add the chopped sauerkraut to the pot. Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and the reserved cooking liquid from the smoked meat. Stir to combine.

5. Add Seasonings and Meat:
Add the bay leaves, caraway seeds (if using), and dried marjoram. Return the chopped smoked meat to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Simmer the Soup:
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let the soup cook for about 45-60 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded together.

7. Serve:
Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with rye bread or crusty bread for a complete meal.

Tips for Success

  • Sauerkraut: Use high-quality sauerkraut for the best flavor. If the sauerkraut is very sour, you can rinse it briefly under cold water before adding it to the soup.
  • Smoked Meat: Kielbasa or smoked ribs work well in this soup, but you can also use smoked bacon or ham for different flavors.
  • Flavor Enhancement: For a richer flavor, add a splash of white wine or apple cider vinegar to the soup.


  • Vegetarian Version: Omit the smoked meat and use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. Add smoked paprika for a hint of smoky flavor.
  • Mushroom Addition: Add sliced mushrooms for an earthy flavor that complements the sauerkraut.
  • Creamy Option: Stir in a dollop of sour cream or heavy cream before serving for a creamy variation.


Polish Sauerkraut Soup, or Kapusniak, is a delicious and comforting dish that brings the tangy and smoky flavors of traditional Polish cuisine to your table. With its combination of sauerkraut, smoked meat, and hearty vegetables, this soup is perfect for warming up on a cold day. Easy to prepare and full of rich, satisfying flavors, Kapusniak is sure to become a favorite in your home. Enjoy this authentic taste of Poland with a slice of rye bread and savor the hearty goodness of this classic soup!

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