Ukrainian Kapusniak (Fresh Cabbage Soup)

Ukrainian Kapusniak (Fresh Cabbage Soup)

It’s mid-March and though we’ve had pretty nice Spring weather lately, we still get the occasional storm that snows us under for a few days. This past weekend was one of those storms and we had about 8″ of snow in a day. Of course, we’d just put away the heavy leather jackets we wear in the winter, the snow shovel and salt! Isn’t that always the way?

Naturally, it was a night to have soup. We had acquired a bunch of green cabbage on sale at the local grocery but it needed to be used fairly quickly so it didn’t go bad. I wanted something easy to make, filling and satisfying, then remembered this recipe I’d found when researching a question for someone. It was perfect for a cold, snowy night.

My recipe below was adapted from one of the Ukrainian recipes on Wikibooks but honestly could be said to be from any of the countries in Eastern Europe. Cabbage soups are quite common there and I’ve had variations on this theme in both Poland and Latvia. Often, this soup incorporates sauerkraut, as fresh cabbage is obviously not available year-round.

One area where I deviated was in my use of spices. Traditionally, as with many dishes from Eastern Europe, dill is the spice of choice. However, for all that my husband is Latvian, he really does not like dill that much (I believe a few meals that were overwhelmed with dill rather put him off of this herb unless carefully used and balanced). I had come across a bunch of fresh thyme at a market last week and, unable to resist, snatched up a bunch and cackled wildly (ahem, perhaps not too loudly). Letting fresh thyme, particularly thyme that looked as if it had just been snipped from a local greenhouse, go to waste would be a cardinal sin. The fact that I love fresh thyme might also factor in!

Ukrainian Kapusniak (Fresh Cabbage Soup)

I’ve found that I really love cabbage soups. The cabbage becomes so tender and tasty! If possible, use Spanish smoked paprika rather than regular. The smokiness really adds to the soup’s flavor.

Ukrainian Kapusniak [printable recipe]

Adapted from a recipe on Wikibooks
Serves 4+

  • 1 liter | 1 quart chicken stock
  • 500 g | about 1 medium head green cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 360 g | about 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 230 g | about 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 230 g | about 1 medium onion, diced
  • 25 g | about 3 – 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 175 g | about 1 small boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced or sliced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Saute onion and garlic over moderate heat until brown. Add spices, cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add broth, chicken, carrots and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Add cabbage and Worcestershire or soy. Taste and adjust seasonings. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Serve with dark bread and sour cream.

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