Spring in the Midwest is... full of surprises. 40-degree temperature fluctuations that occur in less that 12 hours, rain one day, sun the next, tornadoes the next. The other day it was cloudy and cold and my fridge was over-stocked with stock. Soup! For some reason I was set on soup that involved pork and cabbage. In my research for flavor ideas, I came upon this recipe on Smitten Kitchen's blog for a pork and cabbage soup with Sauerkraut. It sounded weird, but kind of perfect.
It seems that every time I go to the store for ground pork, the store is out of it. It's either wildly popular or not popular enough. Usually I'll just have the butcher grind me some, but this day I was stopped in my tracks by fresh bratwurst. It's pork, like I wanted, and, well, brats with sauerkraut, right? Also, pre-seasoned meat meant less work for my lazy tush!
Sauerkraut Pork Balls in Cabbage Soup-1 lb. fresh bratwurst-1/2 cup sauerkraut, squeezed dry-1 egg-3/4 cup breadcrumbs-1 teaspoon caraway seeds-1/2 teaspoon coriander-salt and pepper to taste-1 Tablespoon vegetable oil-1 medium onion, diced-1 shallot, minced-3 cloves garlic, minced-5 medium carrots, diced-2 stalks celery, diced-2 bay leaves-6 cups chicken stock-2 Yukon gold potatoes, diced-1/2 head red cabbage, quartered and sliced-3 Tablespoons Sauerkraut juice-salt and pepper to tasteCombine the bratwurst, sauerkraut, egg, breadcrumbs, caraway, coriander and salt/pepper in a bowl with your hands. Form into small, bite-sized balls.Heat the oil in a dutch oven or soup pot. Brown the balls, in batches so as not to overcrowd them, on all sides, about 7 minutes per batch. Remove to a plate and set aside.Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic and shallots to the pot, and cook for about 5 minutes, scraping up the browned bits from the balls as the veggies soften. Add the stock and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook about 15 minutes more. Add the cabbage and cook until tender, about 10 minutes more. Turn off heat, stir in sauerkraut juice, season to taste and serve hot.
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