This dish began at the grocery store, where I kept walking by displays of prepared sauerkraut and started figuring out ways to use them. In the local markets here in Estonia, old woman hock huge tubs of the stuff, home-fermented and incredibly fresh. Initially I was looking for a quick choucroute garnie-style meal with various sausages (I'm still on the lookout for that recipe, though this version by Serious Eater Kerry Saretsky is very tempting) but went with a paprikash-style stew from Simply Recipes instead.
The term "paprikash" is used loosely here to describe something made with both paprika and sour cream. It lends the soup its gorgeous color. I subbed in smoky kielbasa for the original recipe's frankfurters, which gave the whole thing a pleasant flavor.
I was pretty impressed with this recipe. It's an easy meal—the deep flavor belies the short cooking time, thanks mostly to the tangy sauerkraut and all that fermentation. Traditional dill and caraway seed round things out with some herbiness. Overall hearty and satisfying, it's also quite inexpensive since the meat is used as a seasoning instead of the main event.
But the cheapness could go even further with the addition of potatoes, either on the side or cooked right into the stew. This also might help mellow the sour flavor, which could be too acidic for some.
Read more: Oktoberfest Menu Guide
- 2/3 pound frankfurters, kielbasa, or other sausage, cut into slices
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill, or 2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill
- 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth, plus 1/2 cup water
- 16 ounces sauerkraut, drained
- 3/4 cup sour cream
Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot (a dutch oven is ideal) and add the onion, garlic, and paprika. Cook over medium heat until the onion is quite soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the sausages and cook for a minute to begin rendering their fat. Add the dill, caraway seed, broth, and water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the sauerkraut and stir to combine well. Continue simmering, covered, for an additional 15 minutes.