Kapusta (Ukrainian Cabbage Soup)

While driving towards home last evening I made a call to my Mom (Millie “Shpak” Gosselin) and we chatted right into a food conversation about some of the items my Mom loved in her youth that my grandma created. One of the items was Kapusta. Well I just happen to know the recipe for Kapusta (that I will share with you) as I too had opportunity to sample the cooking of my grandma. She indeed could make the simple come alive. Let’s make a pork based Ukrainian cabbage soup called Kapusta. It is hearty and delicious.

Kapusta is the short name for what is a traditional Ukrainian/Polish cabbage soup made with a pork stock and sweet pork meat, cabbage, sauerkraut, onion, caraway seed and tomatoes. I use a little tomato sauce and some chopped, skinned whole tomatoes to make my soup stand out.

3-4 lbs  pork ribs (I use a chunky type rib labeled “country ribs”)

1 large white or Spanish onion (sliced)

½ c butter

1/4 c all-purpose flour

1 lb fresh sauerkraut with juice (the bagged sour kraut)

1 med cabbage, shredded

2 each 15 oz cans of whole tomatoes (cut into ½” cubes)

1 tbsp. caraway seeds

1 tsp salt

4 lbs russet potatoes (peeled and cubed (1/2”)

Nice dark pumpernickel rye bread

Use a large sauté pan on medium heat. Place ribs, covered with water almost to the top. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for about an hour. Remove any fat foam that forms with your slotted spoon. When finished cooking remove from heat and place the pan with ribs and stock aside

In a 12” skillet, place butter on a medium high flame and add sliced onion. Cook until the onion is translucent (about 10 min with stirring)

Reduce heat on skillet to low stir in the flour and sauté for 3 minutes. This will create a nice roux for thickening the soup.  Turn off heat and set aside.

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

Back to the pork stock and pot. Add the sauerkraut and juice, shredded cabbage, cubed whole tomatoes, caraway seeds, salt and the onion roux mixture.

Reach in pot of warm pork stock and grab the pork bones one by one. Shake the meat off into the pot and place the pork bone to the side (discard when cool)

Place back on a medium heat and cook until cabbage is tender, about 40 minutes.

Lastly, in a separate pot place potatoes, cook on medium heat until tender (about 15 min).  Drain potatoes and set aside to side to be added to the soup as a finish and filler

Serve with dark pumpernickel bread as a Ukrainian might serve the soup and as I have had it from my grandma in the past. What a great meal and filling soup.

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