A Vegan Spin on Traditional Polish Kapusniak

By, Tori Gehrig

Native Foods Cafe 



I really do love Chicago. Sure, we’ve got our fair share of problems; one being winter weather previously allocated to Siberia…but I challenge anyone to find a better city for food in the Midwest. I live in a neighborhood on the northwest side of the city called Avondale aka the place where, “Eastern Europe meets Latin America.” In other words, my apartment is sandwiched right between little Mexico and little Poland. It’s pretty awesome.

I first tried this soup at a little Polish mom and pop a few blocks north of my house. It’s wonderful comfort food; flavorful, filling and gloriously unpretentious. With each warming spoonful you’ll feel transported back to the old country, or rather, that European backpacking trip you never got to take.

Traditionally, this Eastern European soup is made with pork ribs and Kielbasa, but its super easy to make vegan!


1 large pot with tight lid

1 chopping knife



3 potatoes (peeled and cubed)

4 carrots (peeled and cut into ¼ inch slices)

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 tomato (diced)

1 parsnip (peeled and cut into ¼ inch slices)

1 head of cabbage (shredded or chopped)

1 onion (chopped)

2 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter

1 tablespoon of caraway seeds

kosher salt to taste

1 tablespoon of paprika and more to taste

pepper to taste

1 cube of vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon or more of pickle juice to taste (optional, if you want it sour. I did)

1 tablespoon of dill (fresh if you can get it)


Note: many Kapusniak recipes call for sauerkraut and its reserved juice. I was unable to procure some that I could be totally sure was vegan as all the varieties easily accessible to me listed their ingredients in Polish. Therefore, I improvised with pickle juice. However if you do find sauerkraut that is guaranteed vegan, I’d recommend using it.




One of the great things about soup is that it allows for improvisation. There is a lot of tasting and altering here, so nothing is set in stone. Taste as you go and see what you like.


1) Chop all your veggies

2) Heat the vegan butter in your pot under medium/high heat

3) When the butter is melted, add your cabbage, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Mix it around with the butter and keep on heat till ingredients are a little browned.

4) Add the rest of your veggies and fill the pot with water so that all the ingredients are submerged.

5) Throw in the cube of vegetable stock, add all of your spices.

6) Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.

7) Allow the soup to cook for about 1 hour or more. Do NOT allow the water to boil. Stop in every now and then to stir, taste and adjust your spices. Remove bay leaf before serving.


When to soup is finished, garnish it with some parsley and fresh dill. Serve with rye bread. Yum!



Recipe Inspired from:





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