Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

When I first moved to Chicago, I ate many solitary meals at the Melrose Diner down the street on Broadway and Melrose. Their daily specials were good, cheap, and had enough variety to hold the burn-out factor at bay. Soup or salad, entree, and dessert for under ten dollars was a pretty good deal. Of course, that was nineteen years ago so the amounts have shrunk and the cost has gone up, but it's still a pretty good deal. As I've mentioned before, my brother and I eat there a lot whenever he is visiting from Austin.

No matter what I ordered, I always chose the soup when they had sweet and sour cabbage, and they almost always did. It was the best sweet and sour cabbage soup I had ever tasted. Perfect balance between sweet and sour, just the right consistency of both liquid and cabbage, and big chunks of carrots, celery and onion.

For years I tried to find a recipe that came close, without success. When I finally had access to the internet, it was during the height of the cabbage soup diet, so no matter what keywords I typed in, all the hits were for the diet. I couldn't find a sweet and sour cabbage soup recipe to save my life.

Until I stumbled across a database compiled by a subscriber of the newsgroup. At the time, the complete database was online; now you have to register to have access to it all, and you might have to pay (the site does not make it clear). I looked for my soup recipes and found quite a few. The one that grabbed my attention was super easy and, as it turned out, delicious, largely thanks to a secret ingredient: Frank's Bavarian Style Kraut.

And of course I've refined upon it over the course of the years. In the original recipe, you just throw everything into the pot and cook it for a couple of hours. Nothing could be easier, but it lacked a certain depth of flavor that sweating the onions and cabbage in a little vegetable oil provided. Brat purists might want to turn away, but once I found home-made brats at the Apple Market I've started adding that to the pot as well.

Even with the added steps and new ingredients, though, it's a simple recipe. It takes about half an hour to prep, and then cooks unattended for the next couple of hours on the stove or in the crockpot, and it will warm you up on these cold winter nights.

This makes a big ol' pot of soup. I usually throw half of it in the freezer right away. It freezes well, and I have enough for a few days without getting sick of it.
Home Cookin Chapter: Soups and Stews


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 lb. cabbage, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
12 oz. can tomato paste
28-oz. can chopped tomatoes
14-oz. can Frank's Bavarian Style Kraut
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. brats or other sausage, sliced 1" thick (optional)

In large pot over medium-high heat, saute onion in 1-2 olive oil until wilted. Add cabbage and cook until it just starts to wilt, about 3 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Fill each can once with water and add to pot. Bring to boil, lower heat as low as it will go, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until cabbage is translucent.

About halfway through, taste for balance of sweet and sour and adjust if necessary.

If using brats or sausage, add to the pot after two hours and cook another hour and a half.

Adapted from recipe found on the Recipe Archive

Exported from Home Cookin 5.7 (


lawdwarren said...

ok, please add this soup as an appetizer to the braised pork chop din and i am THERE!!!

can u use brown sugar?

dejamo said...

I can definitely use brown sugar. What a great idea! (how come it tastes so good?)

And yes, this would go well with the braised pork chops, wouldn't it?

dejamo said...

Oh, and I mustn't forget the dill :)

Aurora said...

is this really a lot like Melrose's?! I love you, random internet blogger.

dejamo said...

I don't know if I would say it is a lot like the Melrose's, Aurora, but I like it a lot, and for the same reasons. I'd say it's a close cousin.

Thanks for stopping by!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...