Sausage Sauerkraut Soup

I can't remember a single one of my friends growing up who brought fermented vegetables for a school lunch. I certainly didn't.

And I don't really blame us. We'd probably be laughed to scorn.  

It's interesting to note, however, that up until the last few decades, fermenting and preserving foods was absolutely essential for survival. When refrigerators and deep freezers started to become common household appliances, however, the need to preserve foods in traditional ways became obsolete. While once upon a time people relied heavily on preserving foods with salts and beneficial bacteria, now we just stick it in the fridge and hope it doesn't go bad.

So what's the deal with food preservation?

Why does it matter, though? Whether you ferment it or put it in the fridge, the point is to keep it from going bad right? Well, kinda.  

The difference is in the quality of our food. 

A few weeks ago I was walking through an aisle at the grocery store and had a realization. "Wait a second... how come all these foods are just sitting here on the shelf???" There were thousands of items that were labeled as food--complete with a chart for nutrient content--just sitting out for weeks on end.  Row after row were "foods" in boxes and plastic containers---just sitting there! And none of it was spoiling. None of it was breaking down or growing mold. None of it needed preserving. It all just sat there for weeks... months maybe.

But how? How was all this food that supposedly came from the ground just sitting there in boxes?

Because it was dead. Dead, dead, dead. Completely dead. 

And that's exactly how the food companies want it. When food comes from the farm, it (hopefully, depending on soil quality... but that's a post for another day) comes with numerous active enzymes, nutrients, and minerals. The molecular make-up of each food we eat has the various essential nutrients our bodies need to function, complete with the co-factors, micronutrients, and enzymes needed for our body to break down and use the food correctly. 

The annoying part for food companies is that these important characteristics make it so the food spoils if left for too long without being eaten. If their products don't sell right away, they'd lose money.  So they pasteurize, dry at crazy high heats, pressure heat, add chemicals, irradiate--whatever it takes--to keep that food from going bad as long as possible. 

Why it matters

But what does it matter anyways? It's food, either way, whether it's been sitting there for weeks or not... right?

Not really.

Processed foods are dead because they are nearly completely devoid of essential characteristics (bacteria, enzymes, nutrients, co-factors, etc) that play important roles in helping our bodies grow and function properly. Modern processing to preserve food changes their make-up, not only making the food difficult for our bodies to use, but often poison us too.

It might sound dramatic, but it's absolutely true. Statistics about America's health become more terrifying every year. Degenerative diseases like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, digestive disorders, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, and epilepsy affect more and more people every year, despite the billions of dollars in research to combat them. Cancer, allergies, ulcers, and mental illness are now more commonplace than ever. And what about childhood dyslexia, hyperactivity, and ADD? How many children do you see affected by these illnesses?

Our bodies are starving for nutrients.  

We need real food, whole, nutrient-dense food. 

So... fermented foods is the answer?

Fermented foods are not the complete answer to our health problems, but it is one of them.

Life might be much more convenient when you can simply stick a leftover meal in the fridge for the next day or pull out a frozen meal for a quick dinner. But if we want to really nourish our families and establish health in our communities, we need to pay more attention to how we preserve and prepare our foods.

Where modern food processing aims at destroying nutrients to preserve food, traditional cultures actually preserved food by enhancing their nutrient content. They took great care in preparing and preserving everything from dairy products to meats to fruits and vegetables. They'd do so using salts or strains of beneficial bacteria which would prevent pathogenic bacteria from ruining the food. Then, during winter months and into early spring when food was scarce,  they would pull out stores of naturally preserved food which was not only safe to eat, but also had a greater nutrient profile, enhanced by the process of fermentation.

Sauerkraut, picked beets, cheese, yogurt, jerkies and sausages were all nutritious and life-saving. The nutrients found in fermented vegetables help balance alkalinity and improve the assimilation of important fats and proteins in meat. Cultured dairy products are rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins. 

sauerkraut soup recipe

Tips for The Recipe

On that note, you would usually see this kind of sausage sauerkraut soup being posted around October when many people celebrate their European heritage with Oktoberfest. But since it is late winter here in Utah, I figure it's a wonderful time to make some recipes using fermented and preserved foods like generations before us would have done around this time of year. 

Heating the sauerkruat in this recipe does kill some of the bacteria. So i recommend adding the sauerkraut in towards the end of the recipe, heating until hot, and then adding however much you would like in at the end to get plenty of good live bacteria. We're going to maximum nutrients here!

This sausage sauerkraut soup is incredible easy to make too! Celery root can be found in most grocery stores that carry good produce (I find mine at Sprouts). Celery root is a low-starch substitute for potatoes, so if you can tolerate them fine, you can just use regular potatoes. For the sausage, make sure you use good quality, sugar-free sausage. It might take some time to find, but there are usually plenty of good local sources but a sugar-free, nitrate-free sausage can also be found here (U.S Welness Meats makes this Polish sausage).  

Hope you enjoy it!

sauerkraut soup

sauerkraut sausage soup

 

Sausage Sauerkraut Soup
Author: Amy MoffatPrep time:5 minCook time:20 minsServings: about 6
Ingredients:

1 Tbsp butter or ghee
1 small onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped celery root
4 cups homemade bone broth
1 cup sauerkraut* (plus more for serving)
1 tsp dried dill
8 oz sugar-free, high quality Polish sausage (cooked)

Directions:

Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or pot
Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 4 minutes
Add celery root and bone broth and bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until celery root is tender
Transfer all the ingredients to a high speed blender and blend on low for 10 seconds, then high for 20, until smooth (if your blender doesn't hold it all, you can do this in batches. It's a little safer too with hot liquid!)
Transfer back to your pot, add sauerkraut, dill, and sausage.
Cook over medium heat until fully heated through.
Salt to taste.
Serve warm with more fresh sauerkraut for added nutrition and probiotics!

* to save time (or if you already ate all your homemade sauerkraut..) you can use Saverne's Dill and Garlic Sauerkraut. I find mine at Sprouts.

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