Vegetable Soup


An entry of Yoggis Hausmannskost – Yoggi’s Plain Cooking Series
Rocket Soup <em>by SL Wong</em>
Rocket Soup – by SL Wong

Pumpkin and potato soups topped my list of most-ordered German soups whilst in Berlin.

While I just adore the taste of pumpkin soup, I would opt for the latter to see how different restaurants prepared Kartoffelsuppe.

Obviously, though this German staple would be advertised as ‘traditional’, it invariably varied.

The most common offering would be cubed potatoes, onions and carrots in clear broth but I liked the chunky version with sausages and bacon and found the sourish variation interesting.

Meanwhile, of the heartier Eintöpfe (traditional German stews), I sampled goulash the most frequently. (Yes, goulash is synonymous with Hungary but think Austro-Hungarian Empire and it makes sense that it is German too.)

The other Eintöpfe kind of lost out to our proclivity for Turkish soups and stews, of which there is a large and tasty variety. In particular, we would have Mercimek Corbasi (red lentil soup) at least once a week, which sadly meant that we never found the opportunity to try the classic German Linseneintopf (lentil stew).

In any case, being a soup lover, I didn’t need to be asked twice when my friend Yoggi suggested we make a German Gemüsesuppe (vegetable soup).

Checking out Wikipedia’s entry on soups (in German), I see that German vegetable soups normally feature sliced vegetables sautéd with bacon or in fat, and cooked in broth. The soup is thickened with flour or cream and virtually anything can be added to it, from meat to rice and pasta.

Yoggi decided that instead of the usual suspects of potatoes, cabbage or tomatoes, he would opt for the eclectic Rucola (rocket). Its slightly bitter, pungent taste makes it an interesting salad ingredient, which we knew from the Turkish food we so loved.

Interestingly, while Rucola (Eruca sativa) was cultivated in Germany as a crop in the 18th century, it fell out of favour among Germans. It only returned to German menus when Mediterranean food became popular.

(I am guessing this happened from the 1950s when southern Europeans moved to Germany to fill the labour vacuum. They brought with them their cuisines and ingredients.)

Doubly interestingly is how this German Rucola rejuvenation is borne out in its name change: once called Rauke, it is now known by its Italian moniker.

Therefore, Yoggi’s Gemüsesuppe variation is actually both contemporary and Mediterranean-infused, a rich, creamy soup that can be consumed hot or cold, as a light main meal or a starter.

Recipe: Yoggi’s Rocket Soup
(for 3 people)

Rocket  200g
Zucchini (small)  ½ – cubed
Bacon  30g
Onion  ½ – cubed
Sage  10 leaves or vegetable broth stock  1–2 tsp
Cream  250g
Milk  1 cup or enough to thin the mix
White wine  1 cup
Margarine  2 tbsp
Salt and pepper

1. In margarine, braise the onions, bacon and sage until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the zucchini and rocket.

3. Add the wine, simmer until the wine is reduced.

4. Add the cream, then add milk to thin the mix. Bring to boil.

5. Lift from heat, add salt and pepper.

6. Blend the mixture in a blender and serve.

This is part of my series on Yoggis Hausmannskost (Yoggi’s Plain Cooking), a collection of German recipes and associated thoughts. The recipes are those of my dear friend and great cook, Yoggi. Our cooking sessions – and long chats – were instrumental in my picking up and practising German and German culture.

Experienced: 11.11.2011 || Recounted: 18.11.2014

Do you have something to say about the story? Please comment on Twitter or send me an Email