Zelňačka [zel-nyach-kah] is an iconic soup from the area of the Czech Republic where I grew up. It is a traditional dish in the mountains of Moravia, and each Czech grandmother has her own slight variation on the recipe. Each is delectable.
Lara first experienced this part of Czech culture when I brought her home for Christmas last year – in a rustic refurbished underground restaurant, no less. She was sold, and I knew I had chosen a wife well!
In preparation for our upcoming summer in Czech, Lara and I thought it would be wise to start getting our taste buds ready. Thus I scoured the internet for a suitable recipe for this sausage-and-sauerkraut soup. I found one on a blog that had been published in a Czech cookbook at the height of communism – you know it’s authentic then!
Taken from: http://czechmatediary.com/2007/06/18/another-czech-recipe-sauerkraut-soup-zelnacka/
7 oz. Sauerkraut
6 cups of water
2 potatoes, diced
2 tbs. of flour
4 slices of bacon
Polish sausage (kielbasa)
5-10 white mushrooms, diced
1 tsp. Caraway seeds
1-2 tsp. Sweet paprika
1. Saute finely diced bacon
2. Add sliced Polish sausage, mushrooms and onion; saute for about 5 min.
3. Sprinkle with flour and stir everything around
4. Add drained sauerkraut, diced potatoes, caraway seeds and paprika and stir
5. Add water, salt and cook until tender
Lo and behold, it works!
It’s the caraway seeds that remind me of home. Czech chefs put this untraditional spice in soups, in mashed potatoes, and on top of baked bread. It’s my taste of childhood. And it made both Lara and I incredibly excited to be back among the Czech people this summer. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!