Dried mushroom and sauerkraut soup with pearl barley
In our family this soup is the symbol of a traditional Christmas. The origin is unknown but that much is clear, it has Slavic roots. My grandfather was very found of Russian cuisine, most probably he is responsible for forcing this tradition on us :-)) There is a similar Hungarian soup which we often made in winter time, around Christmas, but this Hungarian soup is made without dried mushrooms and without pearl barley.
I made countless variations of this Slavic soup. Each year I twisted a little here or there (best combo is with Italian salsiccia and Spanish chorizo). Last year the vegan variant wasn't bad either. The original recipe calls for fresh pork ribs, plus both dry smoked sausages and fresh sausages too. I could not find organic pork ribs and I could not find smoked sausage without preservatives, so I came up with a new version again.
You will need (makes 5 L soup):
2 tbsp oil
340 g mini pork sausages (organic)
800 g sauerkraut
50 g dried porcini mushrooms (Boletus edulis)
1 cup pearl barley
two bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
whole caraway seeds
ground caraway seeds
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced
a large tomato (rebellion for example)
2 tbsp plain flour
1. Wash the dried porcini mushrooms, and soak them for 20 to 30 mins. With fresh water bring to boil then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 25 to 35 mins till the mushrooms are soft enough. Drain and set aside.
2. Wash the pearl barley till the water runs clear. Bring to boil in plenty of water and cook for 35 mins till the grains just cooked through. Drain and set aside.
3. Wash the sauerkraut in cold water (to remove excess salt) and press out the excess water best you can. Set aside.
4. Finely chop the onion. Brown it over low heat for 15 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the bay leaves and the sausages and brown them a bit. When the meat gets a nice colour all over, add the garlic and spices.
5. Add a bit of water, to cover the sausages and gently simmer for 20 to 30 mins. 6. Drop in the tomato in whole for 2-3 mins. Then take it out and pull off the skin and mash it with a fork. Set aside.
This is a time and pan saving method, of course if you love to do more washing up drop the tomato into a boiling water in a separate pan. Alternatively, you can use tomato puree instead of a fresh tomato. Use 2 tbsp to replace the fresh tomato pulp.
7. Add the sauerkraut and add enough water to cover the sausage and cabbage. Bring to boil, then gently simmer for 15 to 20 mins.
8. Add the pearl barley, the mushrooms, and the tomato pulp too. Add enough water to cover the ingredients well. Now you have something around 5 litre of soup. Bring to boil, then reduce again and gently bubble for 20 to 30 mins.
9. Put the flour in a thick bottomed pan and gently heat, stirring constantly, till the flour reaches a pale brown-creamy colour. Add a little cold water to make a smooth but somewhat thick paste. Add it to the soup. Bring to boil again then the soup is ready. Enjoy!
[i] Sauerkraut Ingredients: White cabbage, salt.
Organic Pork Cocktail Sausages Ingredients: Pork 94%, Water, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Coriander, Ginger, Vegetable Stock [sea salt, palm oil, sunflower oil, glucose syrup, sugar, vegetables (Onions, celery, carrots, parsnip, tomatoes), maize starch, yeast extract, concentrated vegetable juice 1% (celery, carrots, onions), herbs (containing celery leaves), caramelised sugar, spices], Nutmeg, Mace. Filled into natural sheep casing.