And now, ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present the next contender in my happy lineup of drab-looking-but-crazy-tasty soups. Oh, what’s that you say? The soup doesn’t look half bad with those perky green bits on there? Well, those are little kale specks that I sprinkled on for the photo because I had no dill or parsley in my fridge. For you, friends, a splash of color, since I have a feeling that all-brown soups, even if deserving, are not adequately appreciated by the food-blog-reading public. (Oh, I crack myself up. It’s hard to take my perceived obligations as a food blogger seriously sometimes. Most times. I mean, I can’t even get into Pinterest.) And those little green specks just scream, “this soup is deserving!”…don’t they? (Do they?)
In any case, the point is, I loved this soup. I think you will too. The sauerkraut itself mellows and lends its cheerful funk to the soup as a whole, melding with the tomato after a long simmer to produce a fragrant, flavorful broth. Like any soup, it’s even better the next day—simmer gently in a pot to reheat, adding a cup or more of water if you’d like to increase the broth-to-veggies ratio. (I always think the veggies must drink the broth overnight, and I often find myself adding more liquid to soups when I reheat them.)
Cabbage Soup with Sauerkraut, White Beans, and Tiny Rye Croutons (adapted from Sassy Radish): Saute a minced clove or two of garlic in a soup pot over medium heat until fragrant, then add 3 c. shredded cabbage and saute until it begins to wilt. Add 8 c. vegetable broth or water, 2 c. chopped canned tomatoes, 2 c. drained sauerkraut, 2 bay leaves, a sprinkle of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.
Add 2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced, and 1 1/2 c. cooked white beans to the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste (how much salt you need will depend on whether your broth, tomatoes, and beans were already salted, so take those ingredients into consideration when deciding how much to start with). Continue to simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes more.
While the soup is simmering, slice a chunk of dark rye bread into little croutons (1/4″ or 1/3″ cubes). Sprinkle the croutons liberally with olive oil and salt and bake them on a rimmed cookie sheet at 400 until crisp, 10-15 minutes.
Serve soup garnished with croutons and, if you feel it necessary, little green specks.