The Soup lady often hears from people who like to share their soup experiences. Letters, recollections and ramblings about soup will be featured
here. The first Soup Guest is Dave Roberts, who shares his grandmother's recipe for Sauerkraut Soup.
Hi, Soup Lady! All recipes from Lee Park are By-Guess and By-Golly. When I tried making the comfort foods of my childhood, they came out surprisingly well just from memories of playing in the kitchen while Mom and Gramma cooked. (Pie dough or bread dough was my Play-doe.)
I didn't have the ingredients fresh out of the back yard garden or chicken yard,
but I was pleased with my results. Here is my best recollection.
Without benefit of getting Sauerkraut from the crock in the cellar where cabbage in brine and vinegar was being pressed and turned into Sauerkraut,
2 jars of Klaussen Sauerkraut (is that a pound each?)
A package of Pork Spareribs (2-3 pounds?)
Medium to large onion
Some Allspice (10?)
Some Cloves (5?)
Bay Leave (1 or 2)
Caraway Seeds (at least a half tsp. to 1 tsp.)
Cracked Black pepper
Some new potatoes
Brown the spareribs in your stockpot in a bit of bacon grease that you save in a 3-lb. coffee can in the fridge. You can substitute oil, but why bother. Slice the onion into rings and the rings into halves. When the spareribs are halfway browned toss in the onions surprising them. Let them get opaque.Add about 8 cups of water, the allspice, cloves, bay leaves (be sure to break the bay leaves in half) and caraway seed. Bring to a boil then cover with a tilted lid to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat falls off the bones. (Skim away the froth if you like.
The alternative method is to transfer the soup to a different pot after it reduces and the froth is stuck to the side of this pot or just wipe away the stuck froth with a damp rag.) Remove the bones from your stockpot. You can also take the meat out at this point and slice it up to a manageable soup size. Toss the meat back in and add the sauerkraut including the sauerkraut juice**. Let it simmer another half hour.
Peel and quarter your new potatoes. Boil them, but not till they are too soft. Remember these will go into a soup that will be heated and re-heated. Drain the potatoes saving the water for your plants that love starchy water. Add the potatoes to the soup. Correct the seasoning at this point adding more water if desired. Let it stand while the potatoes absorb the sauerkraut flavor. Serve it with thick slices of Jewish Rye or Pumpernickel.
This is a great "second day soup". When you remove the pot-o-soup from the fridge on the second day, simply scrape the layer of coagulated grease from the top. Gramma used to love to spread this grease on a piece of warm rye bread. How she lived to 93 is a medical mystery.
If you really want to really do this right, make a stock using a ham bone and the herbs and spices listed above. Using this method, when you remove the soup from the fridge on the second day it will be totally congealed and look like Sauerkraut Jello. Actually a variation on that soup uses stewed tomatoes and smoked kielbasa, but I prefer that as a sandwich.
You can try this one too. Cut a ring of smoked keilbasa into hotdog sized pieces. Add a jar of Claussen sauerkraut drained. Season with caraway seeds. Dump in a jar of stewed tomatoes and heat thoroughly. Serve on your favorite hoagie bun. (Mom usually cut the kielbasa in half lengthwise for each sandwich.) When I was a kid, I called these "Yoagies" for YUM and HOAGIE.) Dave Roberts,
**The Soup lady recommends rinsing the brine from the sauerkraut before it is added to the pot.