Sauerkraut Lentil Soup

By • February 17, 2011 13 Comments

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Author Notes: When the days shorten and the leaves begin to turn, I start to yearn for sauerkraut. Yes, "yearn for sauerkraut" does sound a bit odd, but it's true. I make my own, right around Labor Day, when nice-looking, bright green cabbages make their first appearance at our nearby farmers market. Once my first batch is ready (after consuming forkfuls of it, directly from the jar!), I start putting it on everything, and roasting it in the oven, low and slow, and finding things into which I can stir it. I often chop and stir roasted sauerkraut into savory dishes and condiments. When I first posted this recipe, I suggested cooking the sauerkraut over a low heat with the onions for a fairly long time, to allow the sauerkraut to soften and sweeten, as it does when roasted. I recommended cooking the lentils in a fragrant broth, to soften them before adding them to the sauerkraut and onions. In the past week, however, I tested and confirmed that the acidity in the sauerkraut doesn't affect the softening of the lentils, as it might with other legumes. I've therefore updated this to simply the recipe, cooking them together from the outset. We use meat here just as a flavoring agent, so it's cut into tiny bits, which then almost melt into the soup when fully cooked. Make it a true one-pot dinner by stirring tiny young kale and chard leaves in, right at the end, and serving with toasted homemade bread. Enjoy!! ;o) AntoniaJames

Serves 4, generously

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat
  • 3 cups sauerkraut, well rinsed (homemade, or a good natural brand, such as Bubbie’s or Steinfeld’s)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups brown or French green lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 3 stalks of celery finely sliced and their leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Canadian bacon or smoked turkey
  • A small handful of parsley leaves, leaves removed and coarsely chopped, stems removed and separately chopped, finely
  • 4 cups good, aromatic chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons organic tamari
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½” dice
  • 3 big handfuls of tiny young kale, chard and/or spinach leaves (I use Earthbound Farms Deep Greens Blend)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Red wine or white wine vinegar to taste
  1. Heat the oil or fat in a large, heavy soup pot and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until translucent, stirring frequently. Raise the heat to medium high, and add the drained sauerkraut. It will release a lot of water; let that steam away over high heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the white wine and let it cook down too. Lower the heat, put the timer on for 15 minutes, and let it cook, uncovered.
  2. Add the lentils, along with filtered water to cover by about two inches. Add the bay leaves, thyme, chopped garlic and celery. Bring to a boil, then let simmer briskly (regular small bubbles coming to the surface), uncovered, stirring occasionally and checking frequently to make sure the lentils don't dry out. Simmer for about 45 minutes all told, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the carrots and more water or stock, if you have some handy, if necessary. (The lentils will continue to absorb whatever liquid is around them, even after they are very soft.) When the carrots are just tender, taste for salt and add some, if necessary. It probably won’t be.
  4. Add the chopped Canadian bacon, mustard, tamari and the chopped parsley stems. (If using larger kale or chard leaves, feel free to chop the stems of those finely and add now too.) Stir well to combine, and add the stock. Bring back up to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Turn it off, cover and allow to sit for about an hour, if possible (or at least 20 minutes).
  5. Remove the bay leaves. Then add the chard and kale, stir well and cover the pot. Cook on low for 2 - 3 minutes, or until the greens are just wilted.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the chopped parsley leaves. Test for salt and correct, if warranted. Add freshly ground pepper.
  7. Serve in warm bowls, allowing your guests to add vinegar to taste. A slice or two of artisanal bread and a nice cold beer or hard cider complete this warming wintertime supper.
  8. Enjoy!! ;o)

More Great Recipes: Stews|Beans & Legumes|Soups|Vegetables|Lentils

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