Kapusta (Polish Cabbage Soup)

How to make Kapusta (Polish Cabbage Soup)


3–4 pounds of meaty pork ribs such as country style ribs

6 ounces diced salt pork (4 ounces after removing skin. The fatty type not the meaty type)

1 1/2 cups onion, about one large onion

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 pound fresh sauerkraut with juice (found in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets)

1 medium head of cabbage, shredded (about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds)

2 14 1/2–ounce cans of stewed tomatoes

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon salt

4 pounds all-purpose potatoes

Rye bread and butter


Step 1:

Place pork ribs in a large 8 quart heavy pot and cover the ribs with water almost to the top.

Bring to a boil uncovered, lower to a fast simmer (low boil) and cook for 45 minutes, skimming off foam as they start to boil.

Shut off burner and let them sit in the water for 15 minutes.

Step 2:

While the pork is cooking, in a medium frying pan, cook the diced salt pork on a medium high flame for 2-3 minutes or until just starting to brown.

Add onion to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes until just starting to get tender.

Reduce to medium heat, stir in the flour and sauté for 3 minutes.

Turn off heat and set aside.

Step 3:

Once cooked, remove ribs from the pot and let cool.

Save the liquid in the pot.

Step 4:

To the pot of liquid, add the sauerkraut and juice, shredded cabbage, stewed tomatoes, caraway seeds and salt as well as the cooked salt pork and onion mixture.

Step 5:

Cook over medium high heat until cabbage is cooked, approximately 30-35 minutes.

While the cabbage mixture is cooking, remove the meat from the bones, shredding the meat into bite-sized pieces.

Return the cooked pork to the pot once the cabbage is tender and heat to serving temperature.

Step 6:

Peel and quarter potatoes and place in cold sated water while cabbage mixture is cooking.

Bring to a boil and over a medium boil, cook potatoes for 5-10 minutes or until tender.

Drain water and cool potatoes to room temperature.

Once the cabbage mixture has finished cooking, cut cooked potatoes into bite sized pieces and either add to the finished cabbage dish or serve on the side. (cooking in quarters and cutting after the fact will make them more firm and less mushy since less of the surface touched the boiling water.

Step 7:

Serve with rye bread and butter for a traditional Polish meal.

Nutrition Information:


Calories: 450 | Total Fat: 20 grams, with 8 grams from saturated fat | Cholesterol: 80 milligrams | Sodium: 950 milligrams | Total Carbohydrates: 35 grams per serving, with 5 grams from dietary fiber | Protein: Approximately 30 grams

Frequently Asked Questions:

What type of meat is best for this recipe?

Meaty pork ribs, such as country style ribs, work best for adding flavor and richness to the soup.

However, you can also use other cuts of pork if preferred.

Where can I find fresh sauerkraut with juice?

Fresh sauerkraut with juice can typically be found in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets, often near other fermented foods or deli items.

Can I use canned sauerkraut instead of fresh?

While fresh sauerkraut is recommended for the best flavor and texture, you can use canned sauerkraut as a substitute if fresh is not available.

Just be sure to drain and rinse it before adding it to the soup.

What role does the salt pork play in this recipe?

The diced salt pork adds flavor and richness to the soup base.

It’s important for building layers of flavor in the dish.

I’m not a fan of caraway seeds. Can I omit them?

Yes, you can omit the caraway seeds if you prefer.

They add a distinctive flavor to the soup, but the recipe will still be delicious without them.

How can I make this recipe vegetarian or vegan?

To make a vegetarian version, you can omit the pork ribs and salt pork.

Instead, you can use vegetable broth for the soup base and add extra vegetables or beans for protein.

For a vegan version, ensure that the sauerkraut and stewed tomatoes are free from animal products.

Can I prepare this soup ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the soup ahead of time and reheat it before serving.

In fact, many soups, including this one, tend to develop even more flavor when allowed to sit for a day or two.

How should leftovers be stored?

Leftover soup should be cooled completely and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

It will keep well for 3-4 days.

Reheat individual portions in the microwave or on the stove.

Is this soup gluten-free?

The soup contains all-purpose flour, so it is not gluten-free as written.

However, you can use a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch as a thickener instead.

What are some optional garnishes or additions for serving?

Along with rye bread and butter, you can serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or dill, or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil for added richness.

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