Comforting creamy potato cabbage soup with smoked sausage and a balanced mix of spices for the cold winter months.
White Cabbage Soup with Sausage and Potatoes
- 500 gram white cabbage ( 1/2 head) shredded
- 250 grams smoked Polish sausage kielbasa
- 3 bigger potatoes cut into cubes
- 1 onion diced
- 1.2 litres vegetable or chicken stock 1 1/2 dry Kello stock cube
- 3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
- 40 grams gram flour or plain flour
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds levelled
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 pieces allspice optional
- 5 pieces black peppercorns optional
- 100 millilitres heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vinegar apple cyder vinegar
- 3 tablespoons lard or any fat good for frying
- Fry onion until translucent.
- Reduce to moderate heat. Add garlic, allspice, peppercorns, caraway seeds and paprika. Let it fry for a few seconds. (Don't wait too long, paprika burns quickly).
- Pour in the stock; add cubed potatoes, finely chopped cabbage and bay leaves. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add sausages, season with salt and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
- Make a smooth, pourable mixture from flour and a small amount of warm water.
- Pour the flour mix into the soup; stir continuously. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to allow the flour to thicken.
- Take off the heat and stir in the double cream.
- Add a splash of vinegar; stir to combine.
- Try to find and remove peppercorn, allspice and bay leaves before serving.
About the Recipe
In Czechia, we call this recipe “zelňačka”. It’s a hearty and comforting meal that warms you up during cold winter months. Often it’s cooked with sauerkraut however my family prefer fresh white cabbage. My boys find sauerkraut too strong.
There is a good reason why our ancestors often cooked this soup in winter. They didn’t have supermarkets full of imported fruit and vegetables as we have nowadays, so cabbage was a perfect supply for much-needed vitamins.
Sauerkraut, as well as other fermented food, is not only full of vitamins, but it also contains probiotics. It’s a bit of a shame my boys aren’t keen on sauerkraut, but on the other hand, I am happy that they like cabbage, after all. Fresh or fermented it’s still packed with vitamins and fibre.
This soup is pure comfort in a bowl. The cabbage is cooked with smoked sausages, potatoes and a few spices to add subtle aromatic flavours. I like adding some heavy cream to it too as it makes the soup super-rich and creamy.
How do you make a perfect white cabbage soup
A new recipe can often look too complicated. Don’t be discouraged, though.
Give yourself some time, especially if you are going to make a recipe you haven’t prepared before; unless you are a good cook.
Make sure you read the recipe methods first. Leave all the ingredients you will need for the soup on hand before you start cooking.
Below are a few tips that will help you to make excellent white cabbage soup.
Czech recipes for “zelňačka” always recommend white cabbage.
I made the soup with red cabbage before when I needed to use some leftovers. It doesn’t affect the taste; however, red cabbage in the soup doesn’t visually look as appealing.
Use a smoked pork sausage. Sausage will give the soup a nice smoky taste. If the sausage is spicy and flavoured with paprika, it’s even better.
In Czech, they have hundreds of sausage variates to choose from. Here in the UK, I usually buy smoked Polish sausage, something like kielbasa. All bigger supermarkets stock it. Buy sausage that contains at least 90 % of meat.
Spices for cabbage soup
Traditional middle European seasoning, typical for white cabbage soup:
- caraway seeds
- sweet paprika
- bay leaf
- black peppercorn
I strongly advise on not skipping or substituting caraway seeds, paprika and bay leaf from the recipe. These spices add classic Czech flavours to the dish and soup without them wouldn’t be the same.
Flour thickens the soup. It’s not necessary to use it, especially if you like lighter and looser soups. In Czech, we typically serve soup as a starter before the main dish. In that case, it’s ok if it is lighter and less filling.
I like to make the soup thicker to be able to fill us up as we often have it as our main meal.
To thicken most of my soups and stews, I usually use gram flour.
Gram flour is gluten-free and it goes well with savoury recipes, especially those with root vegetables, cabbage and legumes. It has a very subtle flavour of yellow peas, but once cooked, you won’t be able to taste that in the soup at all.
If you don’t mind gluten, simply substitute gram flour for plain flour.
Stock makes a liquid base for the soup. If you have homemade stock or broth, don’t hesitate to use it.
If not, use a concentrated version from the shop. There are a few options you can choose from, but my prefered go-to is Kello organic stock cubes – vegetable or chicken flavour.
Turn the heat down before adding spices to the pan. This prevents the paprika from burning and becoming bitter. Don’t fry paprika on high heat for an extended time.
Once you add paprika to the pan, fry it just for a few seconds on moderate temperature. This way, paprika will remain its red colour and sweet taste.
When to add cream
The cream can separate if you overheat it or cook it for too long. Just add the cream to the soup at the end, once you take it off the heat.
Adding vinegar is optional, but a least small (1/2 a teaspoon) of white wine vinegar will balance the flavours.
Beware that vinegar can curdle the cream. If you wish to add more than 1/2 teaspoon, do it in a few steps; stir thoroughly before adding more to prevent curdling.