How to Make Sauerkraut Soup

 It's truly fitting that this be served at Christmas time, for as Dickens observed, both the season and the soup are a blend of times: being equal parts past memories, present joys and anticipated happy futures.  For more than half a century of Christmas Eves, Mrs. Hall has enjoyed this glorious pottage as a prelude to that special night.

2 thin slices bacon- chopped finely
1/2 cup finely diced onion
3 Tbsp. bacon fat
1 clove garlic minced
1 lb. sauerkraut, drained
1/2 cup reconstituted dried mushrooms- Shitake will do.
6 cups beef broth

  Start with a heavy bottomed soup pot.  In the bacon fat, saute until golden brown the onion and bacon pieces.

 They should be almost the color of hash browns when they are done.

 Add the minced garlic and cook, covered on low for about 10 minutes.

Start now to reconstitute the mushrooms in hot water.  (Save the mushroom water and add it with the mushrooms to the soup.)

Make sure the sauerkraut is well drained and add to the pot.

Stir well and heat up to medium high, cooking until the kraut is clear and limp, about 10 minutes.

Add the beef broth.  Cover and bring to a simmer.

In a small heavy bottomed skillet, begin the roux:
1 1/2 Tbsp. bacon fat
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour

Melt bacon fat, and making sure fat is hot, add the flour all at once, stirring constantly.

Watching the heat carefully, stir the mixture until it starts to brown and develops a slightly nutty aroma.
As soon as it reaches that point, stir it into the soup mixture, making sure the soup is very hot, almost boiling.

Drain the mushrooms, cull the stems and chop into strips, remembering that they will likely swell somewhat in the soup. 

Add the mushrooms (and the water) to the soup and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is cloudy and thickened.

Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate; it's often better the following day.

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