Lunch Break: Sauerkraut and Potato Soup at Continental Treat
Venerable Edmonton restaurant has opened a new downtown location
By Steven Sandor | January 25, 2022
I close my eyes, and I can remember it. The sour, pungent smell of cabbage rolls in the kitchen. My mother used to prepare them in a traditionally Hungarian way — that means pork and cabbage overkill. As if there wasn’t enough of those two ingredients in the cabbage rolls themselves, she slathered them in large spoonfuls of sauerkraut, and chucked a couple of csabai sausages in for good measure.
So, after I was pretty well through a helping of mom’s cabbage rolls, what was left on the plate were little bits of pork and the juice from the sauerkraut. This was salty, sour gold. One of my favourite food memories is of soaking that up with a chunk of rye bread — and chasing it with some sour cream.
Sauerkraut, to me, is one of mankind’s greatest food inventions. We can debate about whether or not ketchup or onions or mustard belongs on a hotdog, but sauerkraut is non-negotiable. It is as essential as the wiener and bun.
Sauerkraut is good enough to eat right out of the jar.
But, get this, my wife and our two kids, none of them share my passion for sauerkraut. They all think it’s, and I know this is difficult to hear, disgusting. If anything speaks to my failure as a husband and a father, it is this.
So I went to Continental Treat’s second location, in the old Hardware Grill space on Jasper Avenue, by myself. I wanted to try the Sauerkraut and Potato Soup to cut through the winter chill.
The Continental Treat on Whyte Avenue is a south-side staple, and has dished out Central and Eastern European favourites for decades. Now, the restaurant has expanded north of the river. The Jasper Avenue spot still has the same furnishings and finishes from the Hardware Grill – the shades of blue and copper are prevalent throughout. The only suggestion that something new has happened to the space? Some photographs on the wall of European cityscapes.
But I am here to have the sauerkraut soup, right? You’re not here to read about decor. The bowl arrives at the table, with bits of pork and potato swimming along with the helpings of sauerkraut, which act as the de facto noodles, here. And, after one bite, I am no longer in downtown Edmonton. I am back in my family’s kitchen in Brampton, Ontario. And I am confronted with both joy and sadness. Yes, the soup is absolutely delicious. But I can’t escape the sense of loss — my mom is two time zones away. Age is something you can’t fight, either — we’re never going to have those family dinners again.