This recipe for sauerkraut soup is hearty, delicious and simple to make. All cooked in one pot and ready in just 30 minutes, this simple and warming soup is great served as a vegetarian or vegan main or side.
Vegetarian sauerkraut soup
There are a plethora of recipes for sauerkraut soup originating from pretty much every Eastern European country.
There are probably as many recipes as there are cooks, meaning that it’s a versatile recipe that you can adapt to whatever you have on hand in your fridge and will inevitably end up with a delicious soup!
Now, although there are as many versions of sauerkraut soup as there are cooks, chickpeas are my own addition.
Often this soup is made with kielbasa or some other kind of meat, but many recipes note that the meat is optional.
I decided to use smoked paprika to get the smoky flavour of sausage and chickpeas to get a bit more of a hearty bite to the soup.
The result is a satisfying vegan soup that’s super healthy, versatile and easy to prepare!
Is sauerkraut soup good for you?
Sauerkraut soup is incredibly healthy and nutritious.
Sauerkraut, made from cabbage, is very rich in vitamin C. It’s also high in fibre, as are the potatoes, carrots and chickpeas in this soup, which is great for digestion and keeps you full for longer.
During fermentation, microorganisms break down the sugars and starches in the cabbage, making it easier to digest, as well as making the vitamins and minerals more available for our bodies to absorb.
However, although fermented foods are gaining popularity as good for your gut (and they are), once you cook the sauerkraut in the soup it kills the probiotics, so don’t eat this soup for that – eat it to enjoy the taste!
What is sauerkraut soup made of?
The ingredients you’ll need for this sauerkraut soup are readily available in any supermarket as well as being economical and healthy!
Onion: An onion provides the flavour base for this soup.
Bay leaves: To season the soup base.
Smoked paprika: This spice adds the smokiness that you’d normally get from the sausage or bacon in other non-vegan recipes.
Carrots: Add a bit of sweetness.
Potatoes: Any yellow or brown type of potato with a medium starch content. I use Yukon gold potatoes.
Vegetable stock: Choose a nicely-flavoured vegetable stock. Since some sauerkrauts have a lot of salt, a low sodium stock is a good choice.
Water: Since vegetable stocks come in 4 cup / 1 litre boxes, I add water for the remaining 2 cups of liquid to avoid opening another box of stock!
Chickpeas: The heartiness of chickpeas helps to replace the sausage in non-vegan sauerkraut soup recipes.
Sauerkraut: You can use homemade or store-bought sauerkraut. Live sauerkraut from the refrigerated section will have a better flavour and texture than the pasteurized sauerkraut in a jar. If your sauerkraut is packed in vinegar, very sour or especially salty, you can rinse it if you want.
Salt and pepper: Wait until the very end to season your soup since different brands of sauerkraut and vegetable stock have different levels of saltiness. Add salt to taste.
How to make Sauerkraut Soup
Sauerkraut soup is very easy to make!
Preparation: Start by peeling and dicing one medium onion, two medium potatoes and slicing two medium carrots.
Drain the sauerkraut and measure out two cups. Depending on what type of sauerkraut you’re using (fresh or jarred), you may want to rinse it.
If your sauerkraut is very salty or vinegary, you can place it in a colander and give it a rinse under the tap. I use homemade sauerkraut and it tastes great so I don’t rinse mine.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
Fry: The recipe as I have written it is oil free for whole food plant-based vegans.
Cook the onion in a pot over medium-high heat with a splash of vegetable stock until it’s tender and transparent.
If you’re not WFPB, you can fry the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.
Once the onion is tender, add the bay leaves and smoked paprika and cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant. Be sure to stir it constantly as paprika can burn easily and turn bitter.
Simmer: Now add the carrots, potatoes, stock, water, chickpeas and sauerkraut and bring the pot to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the carrot and potato are tender.
Season: Once the vegetables are tender, taste and season the soup with salt and pepper.
The measurement here is up to you because it will depend on how salty your sauerkraut was to begin with.
It’s ready to serve!
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
Since this recipe is so simple, there are a number of ways it can be adapted or customized!
Smoked tofu, vegan bacon bits, vegan sausage: Since sauerkraut soup often contains a meat element (which I substituted for chickpeas), you can add an even meatier and smokier option such as fried smoked tofu cubes, bacon bits or a vegan sausage product such as Field Roast.
Vegetables: You can start the soup with a mirepoix; a mix of finely diced onion, celery and carrot, to give the broth an extra boost of flavour.
Add mushrooms for a meaty element and substitute or add other root vegetables such as celeriac, turnip or parsnip.
Swap out the chickpeas for white beans or even kidney beans.
Seasonings: A common spice in sauerkraut soup is caraway seeds. They are quite strongly flavoured so add just a pinch if you like them.
Other herbs that can be added are marjoram, allspice berries or dill. You can garnish your soup with a sprinkling of fresh Italian parsley.
To add umami and a touch of sweetness, a couple tablespoons of tomato paste can be added after frying the onion. Cook the tomato paste for a few minutes until it darkens in color, then continue with the recipe.
You can use homemade, fresh, canned or jarred sauerkraut. Fresh sauerkraut, found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, contains live probiotics; however, the probiotics are killed when exposed to heat so you won’t get any advantage from them.
This depends on the type of sauerkraut you’re using. Canned and jarred sauerkraut is sometimes packed in vinegar, which may be too sour for a nice soup. Some sauerkrauts are quite salty too. Taste yours and decide if you like the flavour or if you’d like to rinse it before using.
Sure, some recipes call for this. I recommend reserving the juice until the end of cooking so that you can taste the soup and decide if you’d like to add a bit more sourness with the sauerkraut juice.
Heating sauerkraut destroys the probiotics so this soup doesn’t have any probiotic benefits. Additionally, canned and jarred sauerkraut is usually pasteurized and does not contain any probiotics. If you have fresh sauerkraut and would like get some probiotic benefit from it, allow your soup to cool a bit and add some on top or serve it on the side.
Yes, you can use kimchi. It’s spicy and the flavour profile of this soup will be completely different. If you like kimchi, you can try my vegan kimchi stew recipe.
What to serve with it
Crusty bread, particularly rye or sourdough, and a side salad are always a great choice. Roasted vegetables of any type, especially roasted squash, are delicious alongside this soup.
Garnish your soup with some fresh chopped herbs and/or a dollop of vegan sour cream, such as Tofutti, or homemade cashew cream.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
This soup can be made ahead and stored until you are ready to serve it.
To refrigerate it, transfer the soup to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
The soup can be reheated in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.
To freeze sauerkraut soup, transfer the soup to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Remove the soup from the freezer and allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 4 cups (1 litre) vegetable stock
- 2 cups (480 ml) water
- 2 cups (350 grams) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups (280 grams) drained sauerkraut (you can rinse it if it's very sour or salty. I don’t usually rinse mine)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Chives or parsley or green onion, to garnish (optional)
- Heat a pot over medium-high heat and add the onion and a splash of the vegetable stock. Sautee until the onions are soft. Add the bay leaves and the smoked paprika and stir constantly for about 30 seconds to release the flavours.
- Add the carrots, potatoes, stock, water, chickpeas and sauerkraut and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover. Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender – 15 to 20 minutes.
- Taste and add salt and pepper (how much will depend on how salty your sauerkraut is to begin with). Serve and garnish with a green herb, if desired.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 268Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1400mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 12gSugar: 10gProtein: 12g