Polish Language Blog

Kapuśniak – Cabbage Soup Posted by on Oct 24, 2009 in Culture

There are many definitions and examples of comfort food – I’m pretty sure that every culture has its very own typical dishes that fall into this category. And one thing is certain, when you’re sick you crave that yummy, comforting goodness. And I am and I do. But what do I crave? Kapuśniak (cabbage soup).

Now, maybe not exactly your typical Polish comfort food (but what would be? Schabowy and potatoes plus surówka?) but kapuśniak is what I want to eat whenever I am sick.

The only problem is that I can’t make a really good cabbage soup if my life depended on it. Why? First there’s this issue of whether to use fresh cabbage (świeża) or sauerkraut (kiszona). I like my kapuśniak sour, but not too sour. So what are the correct fresh/sour proportions? And second, what about the soup base? Mine never tastes like it should. It always has that “nouvelle” air to it instead of an honest, hearty and satisfying down to earth kapuśniak flavor.

My dad makes the best kapuśniak on the planet and I love it, even though he likes his with fresh cabbage. However, I have never mastered this kapuśniak making skill and hence I am stuck with improvising whenever I feel like eating a bowl of cabbagey goodness.

And to be completely honest, I’ve had no idea that cabbage soup is (was?) one of those newfangled weight loss fads. Really? We, Poles have been eating it for at least a thousand years, so it’s nice to see the rest of the world catching up.

OK, but back to the original question. How to make my kapuśniak taste right the Polish way? Because right now, I make it somewhat like this:

  • shred a bunch of cabbage
  • open a jar of sauerkraut
  • cut up some veggies
  • get a couple of those bullion cube thingies or a can of ready-made consommé (I’m not the patient type to boil some bones for soup stock)
  • some bacon and a couple of bratwursts
  • random seasonings and spices (read: whatever’s available)

It’s still good and quite tasty, but nothing like my dad used to make.
So, how do you make your kapuśniak?

PS. And by the way, how does this old saying go? Po kapuście d..pa chluszcze. (something like: after eating cabbage soup, stuff spouts from your behind, except that it vaguely rhymes in Polish), so be careful. And the d-word is considered vulgar, so there.

Tags: , , ,
Keep learning Polish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it


  1. kuba:

    I rinse the sauerkraut twice before adding it to the cabbage.
    I also cook the cabbage in a meat stock (pork or beef) chicken stock can also be used.

  2. patrycia:

    Cabbage zupa:

    Do take the time to boil a few bones.
    (I use the ones I cut off the chops and saved)
    Remove bones from pot
    Shred cabbage and boil with Laurel/Bay Leaf.
    Add marchew, cebula, ziemniak, and some of that celery root plus sausage.
    When almost done
    Add a drained and rinsed kiszona kapusta.
    I then add a boullion cube and “Smak Mix”.

  3. Andreas:

    I have only one comfort dish. Kotlet schabowy… and pierogi. Two! Kotlet schabowy, pierogi… and naleśniki. Three!
    I cannot choose one 😉
    (Yes I stole from Monty Python there…)

  4. thomas westcott:

    I have had cabbage soup and I have had sauerkraut soup but not both together.

    The kapusta zupa was the best. I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious sauerkraut soup could be.

    The flavor is drasticly changed by which meat you use with it. Different sausages have different seasonings.

  5. Henryk:

    Speaking of comfort food: I was born and raised in an environment where any food was comfort food when given onto others. Offering food was an act of love and a comfort for the soul, even when the receiver was kicking and screaming.
    It has taken me decades to appreciate the psychology behind this, and now, whenever I’m being offered food in this spirit (and I still am, thanks God), I do gladly accept.

    But the food to be given when ill was definitely not kapusniak; it was rosol – chicken soup, the East-European Jewish universal medicine. It still stirs some fond memories…

    And: thanks for the recipes, everybody 🙂 .

  6. Mary Zurawski:

    I think you would like your cabbage soup better if you used pork neckbones or spareribs instead of boullion or canned stock. I love cabbage soup and make all kinds of variations including a tomato based vegetarian recipe.