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Cabbage Soup with Paprika, Kielbasa, and Raisins
A guaranteed crowd-pleaser in winter.

6 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds cabbage, cored, and cut and separated into strips 1-inch wide
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 quarts chicken stock
28-ounce can of tomatoes
1 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 pounds kielbasa (Polish sausage), cut in N-inch slices
minced fresh parsley for garnish

1. Place the bacon in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over moderate heat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, or until a good deal of fat is rendered. Immediately add the onion and garlic. Stir, and cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add the cabbage and paprika, stirring well to blend. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock. In your hand, squeeze most of the juice out of the tomatoes, then cut them into coarse chunks. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add the raisins, and simmer for 10 minutes more. Add the kielbasa, and simmer about 3 minutes, or just until the kielbasa slices are warmed. Divide among 8 soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

There's a wonderful paradox in this soup (Waiter! There's a paradox in my soup!): it's filled with hearty ingredients and hearty flavors -- and yet, the overall feel of the soup is light and delicate. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser in winter. Serves 8 as a main course