German Sauerkraut Soup (Sauerkrautsuppe)

A traditional recipe for German sauerkraut soup, a true eintopf one-pot meal featuring simple and tasty meatballs that are cooked directly in a broth full of sauerkraut, potatoes, and carrots. This is a hearty winter meal that will warm you up.

A brown bowl full of thick stew with meatballs, sauerkraut, and vegetables. Sour cream is served on the side in a separate bowl next to a basket of sourdough bread..

Sauerkraut Soup

Sauerkraut soup and stew recipes are traditional comfort foods in much of Eastern and Central Europe and they go by many different names like kapusniak and sauerkrautsuppe. Countries like Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Germany and beyond all have some variation of sauerkraut soups like the traditional (and similar) Segedinsky Gulas, a thick stew.

These soups are versatile. My recipe for German sauerkraut soup is made with simple homemade meatballs, but you can use bacon, kielbasa, sausage, smoked dried pork bits (as in grah), or just beans or vegetables.

See the notes below for variations and substitutions.

If you love traditional German recipes like this, try my Rotkohl (German braised red cabbage) and liver dumpling soup. And if you love sauerkraut — make it yourself with my simple homemade fermented sauerkraut recipe.

Ingredients

All of the ingredients you need to make this German Sauerkraut Soup, along with any notes and substitutions you may use.

All of the prepped ingredients ready to be made into this German soup.

For the Meatballs:

  • Ground Meat | I use an equal mixture of pork and beef. You can use all pork, all beef, veal, or a mixture of whatever meat you have and prefer. You can also use turkey or chicken if you wish or sausage meat.
  • Egg
  • Onion | Very finely diced.
  • Bread | I prefer to use white or whole-wheat sourdough bread to make the best meatballs. You can also use breadcrumbs. This is an excellent use for stale bread.
  • Salt & Pepper | Just a bit. The broth these meatballs will cook in will have salt from the sauerkraut, so err on the side of caution.
  • Fresh Parsley | Finely chopped.
  • Water or Milk | Just a bit is needed.

For the Soup:

  • Broth or Stock | I prefer homemade beef bone broth in this recipe. You can also use turkey, vegetable, chicken, or chicken feet bone broth instead. You can use water and stock cubes if you must.
  • Tomato Paste
  • Paprika | Use sweet, hot, or smoked, depending on your preferences.
  • Sauerkraut | Drained but not rinsed.
  • Onion | Diced finely, and 1/4 cup set aside for the meatballs
  • Carrots | Sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • Potatoes | Roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces.

See the recipe card for quantities.

Meatball Instructions (Step-by-Step)

These meatballs are an excellent addition to the soup and will cook directly in the broth, further infusing them with flavor. Make a big batch and freeze them on a single layer to have on hand when you want to make a quick but hearty homemade soup or stew.

The meatball meat and ingredients mixed up in bowl.

A sheet of parchment paper covered in small meatballs.


Step 1: Soak the bread in a scant amount of milk or water, enough to make it damp and shaggy, not soaking. Squeeze out any excess liquid.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, combine the ground meat, the soaked bread, the egg, parsley, a pinch of salt, and the onion. Stir well to combine; you want a denser mixture for meatballs, so don’t be afraid that you’ll over-mix them. Form meatballs into 1-inch balls and set them aside.

Soup Instructions (Step-by-Step)

Diced potatoes, carrots, and onions on a woooden cutting board.

Step 1: Get all of your ingredients prepped: veggies washed clean and cut as directed. Set sauerkraut into a colander to drain, but do not rinse it.

Onions turning transcluscent in a white pot.

Step 2: In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the rest of the diced onions in lard or oil over medium heat until until golden brown.

A red spice and veggie mixture at the bottom of the pot.

Step 3: Add tomato paste and stir until no longer raw, 1-2 minutes.

Sauerkraut mixed up and red in the pot from the spices.

Step 4: Add drained sauerkraut. Continue sautéing on medium-low heat for a few minutes. Add paprika.

Diced potatoes and carrots added into pot.

Step 5: Add beef broth, black pepper, meatballs, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Bone broth added to white pot along with meatballs.

Step 6: Season soup with salt at the end, if desired, as sauerkraut is already salty.
Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream, and crusty bread.

Hint: Freeze the extra meatballs and use them in other soups and with sauces. This recipe makes a good amount of meatballs because I don’t see the point of doing the work for less. You can always half the meatball recipe too, but freezing is so easy!

A brown bowl full of thick stew with meatballs, sauerkraut, and vegetables. Sour cream is served on the side.
A brown bowl full of thick stew with meatballs, sauerkraut, and vegetables. Sour cream is served on the side. A second bowl and basket of bread is on the table.

Substitutions & Variations

  • A similar dish is Segedínský guláš a Czech and Slovak stew of tender pork shoulder, sauerkraut, and paprika.
  • I have made this stew with multiple bone broths and even water with a stock cube. Homemade beef bone broth remains my favorite.
  • If you find the sauerkraut overpowering, rinse it briefly in cold water and drain before adding to the pot.

Storage, Freezing, and Reheating

Sauerkraut will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator and should be stored in a covered container. Reheat it gently on the stovetop over low heat, and add a splash of water or stock to the pot if necessary.

It will last up to 3 months in the freezer. Let it thaw in the refrigerator, and then gently reheat it.

Be very gentle when reheating and do not stir more than necessary.

Raw meatballs can be made ahead or in large batches and frozen in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets before being transferred to bags for long-term storage. They can be added to soup directly from frozen.

Related Recipes

MSN Readers: View The Original Recipe Here (Printable Recipe Card)

A brown bowl full of thick stew with meatballs, sauerkraut, and vegetables. Sour cream is served on the side in a separate bowl next to a basket of sourdough bread.

German Sauerkraut Soup (Sauerkrautsuppe)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: German
Servings: 6
Calories: 364kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

For The Meatballs

  • 1 lbs ground meat I use an equal mixture of pork and beef. You can use all pork, all beef, veal, or a mixture of whatever meat you have and prefer. You can also use turkey or chicken if you wish or sausage meat.
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup yellow onion Dice 1 large onion finely, 1/4 for the meatballs, the rest for the soup.
  • 1 cup bread I prefer to use white or whole-wheat sourdough bread to make the best meatballs. You can also use breadcrumbs. This is an excellent use for stale bread.
  • ¼ cup parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon milk Or water. You may need slightly more or less.
  • Salt & Pepper Just a small pinch of each, especially the salt as the soup broth will have salt.

For The Soup

  • 1 quart bone broth I prefer homemade beef bone broth in this recipe. You can also use turkey, vegetable, chicken, or chicken feet bone broth instead. You can use water and stock cubes if you must.
  • 2 cups sauerkraut Drained, not rinsed.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika Use sweet, hot, or smoked, depending on your preferences.
  • 1 large onion 1/4 cup set aside for meatballs
  • 2 large carrots sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 medium potatoes scrubbed, peeled, and roughly chopped.

Instructions

  • Get all of your ingredients prepped: veggies washed clean and cut as directed. Set sauerkraut into a colander to drain, but do not rinse it. Get your meatball ingredients ready to go and don't forget to separate 1/4 cup of the diced onions for them.

For The Meatballs

  • Soak the bread in a scant amount of milk or water, enough to make it damp and shaggy, not soaking. Squeeze out any excess liquid.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the ground meat, the soaked bread, the egg, parsley, a pinch of salt, and the onion you set aside. Stir well to combine. Your hands are the best tool for this job but a stand mixer works even better. You want a denser mixture for meatballs, so don’t be afraid that you’ll over-mix them. 
  • Form meatballs into 1-inch balls and set them aside. They will be cooked raw directly in the broth.

For The Soup

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the rest of the diced onions in lard or oil over medium heat until light golden brown. 5-7 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and stir until no longer raw. 1-2 minutes.
  • Add drained sauerkraut. Continue sautéing on medium-low heat for a few minutes. Add paprika and stir.
  • Add beef broth, black pepper, meatballs, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Season soup with salt at the end of cooking as sauerkraut is already salty. Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream, and crusty bread.

Notes

Storage, Freezing, and Reheating
Sauerkraut soup will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator and should be stored in a covered container. Reheat it gently on the stovetop over low heat, and add a splash of water or stock to the pot if necessary.
It will last up to 3 months in the freezer. Let it thaw in the refrigerator, and then gently reheat it.
Be very gentle when reheating and do not stir more than necessary.
Raw meatballs can be made ahead or in large batches and frozen in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets before being transferred to bags for long-term storage. They can be added to soup directly from frozen.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 673mg | Potassium: 562mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 4890IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating




7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is my new favorite soup recipe! I made it for dinner last night and it warmed us to the core!

  2. 5 stars
    It is bursting with tangy flavors from the sauerkraut and the various spices. This recipe is a must-try for a hearty and flavorful soup. Delicious!

  3. 5 stars
    I have a ton of leftover Saurtkraut from a party and didn’t know what to do with it. Thanks for the idea!

  4. 5 stars
    What a hearty and flavorful idea for a soup! This would be so perfect on a cold fall day. 🙂

  5. Apologies but I don’t see the amount of potatoes in the recipe? Could you tell me where to find that?
    Thank you

    1. Apologies for the omission, thank you for pointing it out — it’s 3 medium potatoes which is approximately 3 cups when chopped. You do not have to be precise so if it’s a bit over or under, it won’t matter.