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Zelnacka Czech sauerkraut soup with klobasa recipe.

Zelňačka – Czech Sauerkraut Soup

Raise your hand if you want a bowl of nice nourishing Czech soup! Such is the sauerkraut soup with sausage, so thick that a spoon stands in it. We Czechs call the soup cooked with sauerkraut "zelnacka," and it's a perfect dish to warm you up on cold days.
Course Soup
Cuisine Czech
Keyword Sauerkraut Soup, Zelná polévka, Zelňačka
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 536kcal


  • 14 ounces sauerkraut (400 g) German or Polish sauerkraut
  • 2 Tablespoons pork lard or sunflower/Canola oil
  • 3 onions
  • cup all-purpose flour (40 g) to thicken the soup
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet ground paprika Hungarian-style
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds crushed
  • 5 cups chicken broth (1.2 liter) or water
  • 4 potatoes all-purpose such as Yukon Gold
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 g)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper ground
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • 7 ounces sausage e.g. Polish kielbasa, 2 pieces each about 3.5 oz in weight


  • Peel the onions and chop them finely. Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan on the stove on medium heat. Heat the fat in it, carefully throw in the onions, and let them turn translucent. It takes about five minutes. Do not forget to stir.
  • Reduce the temperature a little. Add the flour, sweet paprika, and caraway seeds to the onions. Sauté for about half a minute to a minute, keep stirring.
  • Start adding the chicken stock in batches and gradually whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the Sauerkraut and potatoes. Drain the Sauerkraut, but keep some brine aside for possible soup acidification later. Do not rinse the kraut—if it has long fibers, cut it into smaller pieces. Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes about ½ inch in size. 
  • Put the Sauerkraut and potatoes in the soup. Add the bay leaves. Turn down the heat, cover the pot and let it bubble for about 20 minutes.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. If the soup is not acidic enough, add the brine you reserved from the Sauerkraut at the beginning of cooking.
  • Cut the sausage into rounds and pan-fry them in a teaspoon of lard. Throw fried sausage into the soup and stir.


  • Makes around 4-5 portions.
  • SERVING: Serve the sauerkraut soup warm with a slice of fresh rye bread. If you want to smooth the soup, garnish it with a dollop of sour cream when serving. Sprinkle the soup with a bit of chopped green parsley for a more excellent presentation.
  • Potatoes in acidic environments could have trouble cooking completely soft. Therefore, it is essential to cut the potatoes into small cubes of about ½ inch (1.2 cm) - no larger - before adding them to the soup.
  • The exact amount of salt depends on how salty the Sauerkraut is and the same for the chicken stock used.
  • It's true: The sauerkraut soup tastes even better the next day! It may thicken a little, so add a little water when heating up and stir it into the soup.


Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 2936mg | Potassium: 1601mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 933IU | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 5mg