Cook yourself German #1 „Kartoffelsuppe“ = Potato and vegetable stew and little sausage guide

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There are three cusines that i absolutely love, which, i think you can easily see from the dishes in this blog: the Italian, nowadays more and more the Asian. And the German. But still you don’t find so many German recipes here. The reason why: Since i write in German i don’t want to bore the reader with stuff they know inside out anyway. But i also feel since a long time, that the German cusine is still somewhat underrepresented outside of the country, that few classics besides the absolute clichees are known and that there could be more German traditional recipes in English language on the net. So i thought it would be cool to start a little 10-piece series in English, in which i, now and then, introduce some absolute German classics of which i sure, many people will enjoy and will have no trouble whatsoever a) getting the ingredients and b) making. As with every traditonal dish, there are many possible variations so here you’ll find my favourite but i will still try not to experiment with the basics. And, although there is not THE German cusine, but there are rather endless regional specialties, i chose ten dishes, that, more or less, everyone in the whole country knows and loves.

I would be absolutely thrilled, if anyone would actually try and make some of the dishes and shares his / her experience and maybe some pics of the results.

The German cusine is widely known as meat-heavy. And in fact, today, it mostly is – which doesn’t have to be a bad thing anyway. But in the times of my grandparents and the childhood and youth of my parents, and even in my youth, meat was a rare thing. A pork roast was something to be served on Sundays. And beef was luxury. This potato stew is a typical example of an everyday dish that fed generations. Stews, often completely vegetarian, or with long cooked cheap cuts of meat were probably the most common meal on workdays. Potato stew, lentil stew, soup with noodles, cabbage stew, pea stew, green bean stew – when done well, they still warm every German’s heart and remind them of their childhood. Potato stew is probably the most loved one. And of course – every family has their own favorite receipe. Since my wife is a vegetarian, i’ll make a 100% vegetarian (actually „vegan“ version, which existed clearly a long time before the term „vegan“) but will add an option of fried saussages which is another thing we just love. Which give me also a chance to lay down some basic saussage rules.

Receipe for 4-6 persons as a main dish

Peel: 5 carrots, 3 big hands full of potatos, 1 onion, ½ bulb of celery (if you can’t get this, the normal, green celery will also do, maybe 3 stalks). I also added one kohlrabi – you can add other veggies such as turnips, parsnip, pumpkin, fennel, leek… but it should not be too many veggies at the same time, 50 % should always be potatoes you should always have need celery, carrot and onion.  So maybe just one extra. Cut all the veggies in 1 cm cubes.

Heat two tablespoons of neutral / vetgetable oil in a large pot. sauté the onion for a few minutes, then add the rest of the veggies and sauté some more. Then add as much water so the veggies are just covered. You can also use veggie / chicken / beef stock – which gives stronger taste so if you have it, great. But it also works with just water. Put in a decent amout of salt so the water / stock tastes slightly salty and bring to the boil. Then turn on medium / low heat and let simmer until the veggies are real soft.

Use a potato masher to crush the vegetables so they bind the liquid. They can and should still be pieces. Do to use a blender as the soup will get slimey. Seasoning: Chop a big bund of fresh parsley, ad 2 tablespoons of fresh or dried marjoram (oregano will also do) and some caraway. If you have some celery or fennel leafs left – great, in they go! And lots of freshly grinded pepper. If you like, you can also add some cream to make the soup more rich, but you really don’t have to.

You can serve the soup as it is, with freshly cut parsley on top. but also, if you like, give it a topping: I hade some freshly fried bratwurst. Also great: wiener saussage, fried bacon, smoked salmon, croutons, fried onions or mushrooms….

Little sausage guide

Since there’s nothing German cusine is more famous for than sausage, most importantly fried or grilled and this will be the only time in this series, saussage is involved, here are some sausage guidelines:

  • There are many regional varieties. Thüringer, Pfälzer, Nürnberger, Fränkische…. Always chose the one oft he region you’re staying in – it will be the best.
  • Raw sausages that are not-pre boiled before being fried or grilled are by far better than the pre-cooked ones.
  • The best way of making sausage is grilling them over charcoal or wood. Pan-frying just the second-best.
  • No one makes their own sausages. Buy at a good, local butcher. He knows how to do it.
  • Treat your sausages with the same respect as your steak. Fry them carefully, not too hard, not to slow, do not over- oder undercook.
  • Mustard is the ONLY allowed condiment. NO ketchup for god’s sake! Don’t even think about majo.
  • When grilled and eaten outside, a good roll and some mustard is all you need. When homecooked in a pan they go super well with sauerkraut and (masked) potaoes.
  • No better drink with sausages than a cold beer.

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