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Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

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Slow simmered to perfection, this split pea ham and sauerkraut soup is packed with protein, tender ham, tangy sauerkraut, and fresh celery and yellow onions. Hearty in flavor, this Polish Sauerkraut soup is comforting and perfect for chilly fall weather. 

Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

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I just love soup season! Soup is one food that just brings a level of comfort that no other food can provide. It is a good bowl of soup after coming inside from the crisp fall air that just warms the soul.

I find split pea soup to also be a very nostalgic recipe, with a few different spins on it. This particular split pea soup recipe, comes with an ingredient you might have never thought of adding before– sauerkraut

Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

Polish Sauerkraut Soup

Traditionally, Polish sauerkraut soup is called kapusniak. You can find dozens of recipes with a large variety of ingredients for this traditional Polish soup.

Sauerkraut soup

However, they all have one commonality: sauerkraut. (Recipes that use sauerkraut are under utilized, don’t you think?)

They are also all hearty soups that are perfect for colder months. Today, I’m sharing a new variety of Polish Sauerkraut Soup: Split Pea, Ham, and Sauerkraut Soup.

Ham on a cutting board.

Is Sauerkraut Good for You?


You may be wondering what sauerkraut really is, let alone its wonderful health benefits. Raw sauerkraut is just finely cut raw cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. It has a rather long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavor.

Fun fact: Sauerkraut is actually a German word, and it literally means “sour cabbage.” But interestingly enough, it was actually the Chinese who first invented sour cabbage by fermenting cabbage in rice wine.

Diced ham for Polish sauerkraut soup


Sauerkraut is loaded with vitamins C and K. In addition to these vitamins, sauerkraut also is packed with iron and fiber, and contains a ton of probiotics. Therefore, sauerkraut is definitely good for our digestive system.

Where Can I Find Sauerkraut?


You can find raw sauerkraut at almost any grocery store, as it has become popular to put on ruben sandwiches and burgers.

If you’re Polish, it is also needed for the annual holiday kapusta dish. Kapusta is like a Polish sauerkraut soup or stew. It is similar to Kapusniak soup, just with less broth and different cuts of pork.

Celery and onion being cooked.

Both are Polish sauerkraut soup recipes that cook the raw sauerkraut into the dish with other ingredients.

When I say “raw” sauerkraut, that means it’s not heated or cooked, it is just the pure fermented cabbage. So when choosing to eat pure raw sauerkraut, many people just use it as an additional topping to grilled sandwiches or cheeseburgers.

When I came up with this split pea ham and sauerkraut soup recipe, I tied it back to my Polish roots a bit by adding sauerkraut.

Cooking celery

With split pea soup already known for cooking with ham, it reminded me of both kapusniak soup and kapusta. Both of these Polish sauerkraut soup recipes use either ham or bacon.

Some Polish sauerkraut soup recipes even add in yellow split peas, which are a little more starchy and earthy tasting than the green split peas.

So if you’re Polish, or anyone who appreciates sauerkraut (Germans eat a lot!), I think you will be happy with this recipe!

Sauerkraut cooked on stove.

What Ingredients are In SPlit Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup?


In addition to the sauerkraut, I also still add in the traditional ham!



You can definitely make this soup using a leftover meaty ham bone, which would definitely make for even better flavoring. However if you don’t have one, no worries!

Ham for Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

In this split pea ham and sauerkraut soup recipe I will be using finely diced thick-cut ham. So let’s dive into the ingredients you will need.

Main Ingredients

Butter: Of course butter! It is used to saute the vegetables, however olive oil can be substituted.

Yellow Onion, Celery and Garlic: Delicious if you have fresh garden-grown veggies. These ingredients infuse a lovely undertone of flavor to the split peas. 

Cooking split pea soup

Chicken Broth and Water: I use 75% chicken broth and 25% water so the chicken stock doesn’t completely overpower all of the other delicious flavors.

Dried Split Peas: Split peas do not need to soak before cooking. But you do want to thoroughly rinse and drain them to rid them from dirt and tiny pebbles. 

Bay Leaves and Thyme: I just use dried herbs, but you could certainly substitute for fresh.

Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

Salt and Cracked Pepper: I salt and pepper the vegetables while they are cooking and then add additional salt and pepper “to taste” at the very end when the soup is done. Certain hams can have a lot of salt as it is. So cook the soup through and then do a taste-test to see if it could use more when it is done simmering.

Raw Sauerkraut: I just use shredded raw sauerkraut from Meijer which comes in a 32 ounce bag. For this recipe, you will use about 14 ounces. The raw sauerkraut will need to be pressed through a strainer to drain excess juices. 

Thick-Cut Ham (thinly diced): This soup is such a great use for yesterdays baked ham bone, but if you don’t have one, any pre-cooked, thick-cut ham will do. Just thinly slice into small cubes and place in the soup pot. Although I find that ham adds such a great flavor to split pea soup, you could certainly substitute for shredded leftover turkey or chicken as well.

Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

Split pea soup in a pot on the stove.

Polish Sauerkraut Soup Ingredients

  • 6 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion (Chopped)
  • 4 Ribs of Celery (Chopped)
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic (Sliced)
  • 1 (16 oz) Bag Dried Green Split Peas (Rinsed/Drained)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tsp. Thyme
  • 14 Oz. Raw Sauerkraut (Drained)
  • 1 Lb. Thick-Cut Ham (Thinly Diced)
  • Salt and Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

How to Make Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

  1. Add 4 tbsp. butter in a large stock pot. Chop up the onion, celery and garlic and sauté in the butter over medium-high heat for about 2-4 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. 
  2. Add chicken broth, water, rinsed and drained split peas, bay leaves and thyme.
  3. Dice up the ham into thin pieces and add to the pot.
  4. Pour about 14 ounces of raw sauerkraut into a strainer in your sink, or over another large bowl. Using a large ladle or spoon, press down on the sauerkraut to push excess juice out. Once well drained, add the raw sauerkraut to the soup pot.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil, and then reduce to low. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally until peas are tender and broken down, about 2 hours.
  6. Remove from heat and serve.
Bowl of soup

Note: The soup will thicken as it rests and cools. But if you notice soup isn’t thickening up how you’d like while it’s cooking, you can let it simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. For leftovers the next day, you can thin the soup down by adding a bit of water if needed. 

Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Slow simmered to perfection, this split pea ham and sauerkraut soup is packed with protein, tender ham, tangy sauerkraut, and fresh celery and yellow onions. Hearty in flavor, this Polish Sauerkraut soup is comforting and perfect for chilly fall weather. 

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion (Chopped)
  • 4 Ribs of Celery (Chopped)
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic (Sliced)
  • 1 (16 oz) Bag Dried Green Split Peas (Rinsed/Drained)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tsp. Thyme
  • 14 Oz. Raw Sauerkraut (Drained)
  • 1 Lb. Thick-Cut Ham (Thinly Diced)
  • Salt and Cracked Pepper (To Taste)

Instructions

  1. Add 4 tbsp. butter in a large stock pot. Chop up the onion, celery and garlic and sauté in the butter over medium-high heat for about 2-4 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. 
  2. Add chicken broth, water, rinsed and drained split peas, bay leaves and thyme.
  3. Dice up the ham into thin pieces and add to the pot.
  4. Pour about 14 ounces of raw sauerkraut into a strainer in your sink, or over another large bowl. Using a large ladle or spoon, press down on the sauerkraut to push excess juice out. Once well drained, add the raw sauerkraut to the soup pot.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil, and then reduce to low. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally until peas are tender and broken down, about 2 hours.
  6. Remove from heat and serve.

Notes

The soup will thicken as it rests and cools. But if you notice soup isn’t thickening up how you’d like while it’s cooking, you can let it simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. For leftovers the next day, you can thin the soup down by adding a bit of water if needed.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 285

How to Store Leftover Split Pea Soup

Let the soup fully cool before placing into a lidded container. This split pea, ham and sauerkraut soup will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 days. 

This soup also freezes well! Double the batch, and save half for another rainy day. 

Polish Sauerkraut Soup | Split Pea Ham and Sauerkraut Soup

Before freezing leftover split pea soup, make sure you’ve let the soup cool before packaging away. Ladle or pour into an airtight glass container, leaving about an inch gap at the top to allow for expansion.

Place a layer of Saran Wrap over it before putting the lid on. Secure lid carefully and place in the freezer for another day. 

This soup will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to take it out, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat the next day and enjoy!

Additional Cooking Methods for Split Pea Soup


There is something about making soup on the stove that brings a nostalgic feeling from our childhood. While I made this split pea, ham and sauerkraut soup recipe on the stove, there are certainly quicker methods to meet the needs of any busy family.

You can make this soup recipe in the crockpot. Just add all the same ingredients into the crockpot, but reduce the your broth by 25% to compensate for the lack of evaporation. Cook on low for about 7 hours.

Or make this soup in under 45 minutes using your Instant Pot!

Just press the “sauté” setting on Instant Pot, add your butter, celery, garlic, and onion and sauté for 3 minutes.

Once your vegetables are sautéed, press “cancel.” Pour in your broth and water (halve the amount of the stovetop recipe).

Then add in your ham, raw sauerkraut, and seasonings. Cover and press manual mode and set for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for an additional 15 minutes and then quick release the remaining. 

You’ll Also ENjoy…

I really hope you enjoy this recipe! I’d love to know if you grew up eating split pea soup or even Polish sauerkraut soup. What does your family put in yours?

And if you’re looking for more hearty recipes, make sure to check these out next.

You can also visit my recipe archives here.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! Make sure to subscribe to get my Grace Notes directly to your inbox and to access all my insider perks. You can also follow along daily on Instagram and weekly on YouTube!

~Sarah

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