The Winter That Wasn’t

Setting record highs and feeling for all the world like early spring, this is easily the most mild January in recent memory. Though likely the sign of the impending apocalypse, I can’t help but rejoice in this unusual weather pattern. Being cold is simply not a state conducive towards my general well-being, and when the thermometer dips below 40 degrees, like a wind-up toy at the end of its run, I simply stop functioning. Crawling into bed just to keep warm, not a useful thought in my brain, it’s easy to understand the attraction of winter hibernation.

Snowless, sunny, and merely brisk, these days have been ideal. Undoubtedly the lucky streak will end, leaving me scurrying for cover once again beneath layers of knitwear and blankets, but for now, 2012 has been a gracious visitor. Lest I find myself completely unprepared for those brutal days that certainly lay ahead, it doesn’t hurt to work on the repertoire of warming soups.

Inspired by an odd find while perusing a grocery store in Germany, this hearty bowlful of mushrooms and potatoes has an unusual secret ingredient: Sauerkraut juice. Sold not just as the liquid packed with pickled cabbage, it’s actually available as a wholly separate beverage, sold in bottles as if to be drank in place of the morning OJ. So intrigued by this novel concept, I couldn’t resist smuggling home an aseptic package to play with in the kitchen. Salty, tangy, a little bit odd- It sounded perfect for livening up the standard bowl of starchy soup.

A definite belly-warmer with a bit of German flare, it would still be highly tasty without the sauerkrauter saft. Additional mushroom broth or standard vegetable broth would both make for welcome, savory substitutions.

Sauerkraut Saft Suppe

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Red Onion, Chopped
1 Large Clove Garlic, Minced
10 Ounces Mixed Mushrooms, Lightly Chopped if Needed*
3 – 4 Cups Chopped Savoy Cabbage
2 – 3 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Cups Sauerkraut Juice
2 1/2 Cups Mushroom Broth
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds, Ground
1/2 Teaspoon Caraway Seeds, Ground
1/2 Teaspoon Celery Seeds, Ground
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika

3 Scallions, Sliced
1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley
1 Teaspoon Dried Dill
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

*I used a frozen mixture by Woodstock Farms that included shiitake, shimeiji, field mushrooms, and abalone mushrooms.

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat, and the onion and garlic together until softened and aromatic, but do not brown. Introduce the mushrooms, cabbage, and potatoes next, stirring lightly until the cabbage has wilted down a bit; 5 – 8 minutes. Mix the tomato paste into 1/2 cup of either the sauerkraut juice or broth to break it up into a smooth mixture before adding all of the liquids in. Add in the bay leaf, fennel, caraway, celery seeds, and paprika.

Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Turn off the heat and mix in the scallions, parsley, dill, and pepper to taste- But for the love of food, do not add salt! As one might imagine, the sauerkraut juice is intensely salty, and it doesn’t need any additional seasoning in that regard.

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

Printable Recipe

23 thoughts on “The Winter That Wasn’t

  1. I am not a cold weather fan either. I have been surviving the few nights that were too cool for my liking by indulging in pho. Soups are the best thing about winter.

  2. The weather has been the same over here! November was Like December and now January is like November. Most people over here use sauerkraut juice for detoxing, which I am not a fan of. It’s also a remedy that helps with constipation.
    I really like your way of incorporationg it in a recipe much much better.

  3. hmm..sauerkraut juice sounds interesting as a beverage. i’m sure it’s amazing for because of the probiotic properties. it actually reminds me that i miss sauerkraut and should buy some soon..and then use the juice to make this soup!

  4. I love mushrooms, and I’ve had sauerkraut on reuban sammies, so I think I like it as well. I’ll have to give this a try when the temperature dips here!

  5. That sounds really interesting. I am printing this one out to try for whenever we get snow. I am sure we will be getting some soon.

  6. I love soup too…and this soup with sauerkraut looks delicious, absolutely mouthwatering. Like the ingredients in it…very different.
    Hope you have a wonderful week ahead Hannah :-)

  7. Um yeah. I’m basically the same way. Getting out of bed in the morning is SO HARD because I know how cold it will be outside my sheets! This soup looks so deliciously warming though. Yum!

  8. I think it’s safe to say that being cold is simply not a state conducive towards any Hannah’s general well-being. ;)

    As a die-hard fan of anything and everything pickled, I must say that sauerkraut soup (and this soup) sound incredible. Another tick in Germany’s favour!

  9. I know what you mean, this winter has been bizarre. It has snowed only a handful of times (and I’m in snow country!) and what little has stuck has melted later the same day because of the sun/warm temps. You’re right, colder weather must surely be on its way. :)

    The soup looks wonderful and I love your secret ingredient. Sounds like a great way not only to add a nice tang, but also to up the nutrition!

  10. 2012 has been unseasonably warm up here in Saskatchewan, too, which is scary and awesome all at once. Yesterday I went for a walk and I didn’t even have to wear a toque…miracle. The thought of sauerkraut juice kind of weirds me out a little as a drink, but it would probably be a really good flavoring agent for other things.

  11. I don’t generally like mushrooms but this sounds amazing. I bet it would be just as good with a jar of sauerkraut in place of the juice & cabbage. :)

    1. Absolutely- I realized after the fact that adding cabbage to the sauerkraut juice sort of made it a bit less unique. ;) But you could also just save up the leftover juice after finishing off a container of sauerkraut, as a way to reduce waste a bit.

  12. I do not know exactly where you a living in the US? but anyway, it seems that we have the same kind of weather, even if it is winter, we can easily spend some times outside without freezing right away – not much rain, some rays of sun, but sky still is white most of the time …
    That is not a bad idea to gather soup recipes, because when all of a sudden we will have to deal with the cold, I think we will be glad to have fore-thought our warming meals !

    I do not know if we have sauerkraut juice here, this sounds a bit weird to me, but as you said it was something new for you too. This is pretty original though, even the taste may be surprising at first. Sure you had a unique idea here, well done.

  13. We’ve been enjoying the unseasonable warm too… but you’re right it hasn’t made me crave soups like I normally do this time of year!! All those mushrooms are calling my name now though!!

  14. They sell sauerkraut JUICE over there? wow. I do make my own kraut so this soup would be perfect to use up leftover juice.

  15. I must admit–I’m loving this warmer weather! The last 2 years were a little crazy for me. The soup looks great–I’ve often thrown a little sauerkraut juice in with whatever soup I’m making that could use a touch of acidity. Love the mushrooms in yours!

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