This is a tasty, tangy soup I enjoy especially after winter fasts – including the 7-day water fast I just finished yesterday. Before global trade overpowered local economies and foods, winter was always the time to eat preserved vegetables such as sauerkraut – especially in areas with a cold winter climate. Through the process of fermentation, sauerkraut gains many healthy nutrients not found in raw cabbage. Boiling the sauerkraut for this soup does unfortunately destroy its natural probiotics, but the organic acids produced by them remain intact.
In Eastern Europe and Russia, sauerkraut and grated cabbage (both raw and boiled) have always been used to break fasts. The high Vitamin C content and antioxidants help to revive the liver, and the fibre helps to ‘scrub’ out the intestines before returning to an everyday diet.
*Note: this soup is not suitable for those following a zero-sodium protocol.
500g / 1 lb. potatoes
500g / 1 lb. sauerkraut
1 medium onion
1 large carrot
½ vegetable stock cube
Optional additional ingredients:
100g kidney beans (pre-soaked, boiled and ready to eat)
100g cannelloni beans (pre-soaked, boiled and ready to eat)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Total calories: 595; up to 915 with all optional ingredients
Makes 5 servings at 195 calories per full bowl of soup (350ml / 12 fl.oz.); up to 305 calories with all optional ingredients
Put about 1.5 litres/quarts of cold, fresh water into a medium saucepan and start heating to the boil. While you wait, dice the onions, chop the potatoes and carrot, and throw all the ingredients into the saucepan. I usually add half a stock cube. If you’d like to avoid all added salt, then feel free to leave this out. Without a stock cube, though, the soup can taste too sour for many people. (The taste of sauerkraut is balanced evenly between sour and salty when raw, but when boiled in the soup, this shifts distinctly towards the sour range.)
While the stock cube dissolves, squeeze out some of the juice from the sauerkraut. (This helps to reduce the salt content.) I simply take the sauerkraut in my hands, and literally wring out the juice. Then add the sauerkraut to the pot, and pour in as much extra water as necessary in order to just cover the vegetables. I find the sauerkraut has a tendency to stick together in clumps, so it’s worth stirring into the other vegetables from the start. After the water reaches the boil, simmer (lid on) for 75 minutes and let cool.
This basic version of Sauerkraut Soup is fine for refeeding on Day 1 for fasts of 1-3 days, Day 2 after fasts of 4-10 days, and from Day 3 of longer fasts. The only reason not to recommend it immediately after all fasts is because of the relatively high salt content, which can contribute to oedema in some cases.
If you’d like to add some or all of the additional ingredients, the time to do so is after all the basic ingredients have already been added. Please note that black pepper is a stimulant and should be added only in moderation (if at all) after a fast. Olive oil should also be avoided immediately after longer fasts. Otherwise, a small quantity helps to bring out the soup’s flavours. Likewise, the beans should be added only if you’re sure you can digest them.