AKA: Hearty Beef Vegetable Bavarian Sausage Soup and May is Lentils Month
“It tastes like home.” was the first line in Andrea’s post and when I knew I was making her soup. She had listed it as her favourite recipe when interviewed by Food Bloggers of Canada, and that also enticed me. Coupled, or tripled, with the fact that my matriarchal side hails from where Germany now lay, I was all in. My father’s side is from Ireland, and my mother’s landed on Plymouth rock in 1729. Thus, my food culture is about as Canadian as it can be. Any ethnic influence has been washed away through time, lack of money and lack of product anything similar to that of “back home”… I yearn to taste the food of my ancestors.
Andrea’s recipe called for beef stock of which I had none in the freezer, so I decided to use the shanks I had just picked up from the market and make a stock inside of the soup, so to speak. After that, I followed her recipe for the most part, though I believe she may beg to differ. Can’t wait to hear what she, or anyone else familiar with this soup, says about my version.
Verbatum, her “recipe comes from “Kochen – Ein Rezeptbuch für alle Leute, die mit Leidenschaft backen und brutzeln, kochen und mixen und … essen” by Buchverlag für die Frau. In English: “Cooking – A Recipe Book for all People, who bake and fry, cook and mix and … eat with a passion” by the Book Publisher for Woman”. You will find the recipe on page 221.” I have changed it according to what I had in the house, and the garden.
A great beef stock requires celery, onion and carrot, thus my addition of the loveage. It is such a handy garden herb, giant, though.
After browning the meat and sweating the vegetables, all was covered with water to simmer. The loveage worked its wonder, so I changed it out for some fresh thyme, as per the recipe.
Mis en place: the lentils were a gift from @CdnLentils; one of the many incredible swag items from the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. May is lentils month and as this is such an important Canadian food product, I am committed. This is a Saskatoon promotion, but Alberta grows so many legumes and lentils as well. Most come out of Vauxhall from the Columbia Seed Company, and many are sold at Farmer’s Markets and at Planet Organic. Ask.
I confess. I detest the mouth feel of lentils. The skin slips off and sometimes the flavour reminds me of the split pea soup my mom would make me eat that I hated. However, they are so economical and unbelievably nutritious, that I do use them quite often, but I have my little magic way. I usually grind them with my Thermomix and use the lentil flour to thicken soups. One of my very favourite soups that I created is my Spicy Tomato and Chickpea Soup. Sometimes I take a 1/2 cup of red lentils, grind them up and add them to this soup if I want something really thick and filling. That is a good soup!
I was completely baffled by all of the ingredients in this soup and very curious about the sweet and sour addition at the end. I can imagine how this would taste like home if you came in after a day of hard work outside (or hard play) and sat down to a steaming bowl of this exceedingly hearty soup-stew. Especially if you made your own sausages or weiners, or knew the butcher who makes them. The lentil flavour and smoky meat flavours do trigger that “I don’t like this split pea soup” mechanism. That was my initial reaction. But, this is so much more than that. It is a lesson about the taste of home… Andrea’s taste of home, and I think the flavours would be close to hers.
The sugar and vinegar do add a lovely little zip. I like more vinegar and less sugar (about 1:3) and really enjoy that sweet sour hit. It definitely transforms the bowl into a more personal experience.
German Lentil Soup
- 350g lentils (dry)
- 1 liter of water
- 5 grass fed beef shanks with bone in
- 2 large onions, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- bacon fat
- 2-3 fresh bay leaves
- few sprigs of loveage, or 2-3 stalks of celery, diced
- water to cover
- 700g potatoes, diced
- 250g European Wieners, diced
- 2 Bavarian smokies (not too fatty), diced
- 500 ml beef broth
- 1/4 cup tomato paste (Andrea said one tablespoon, but it wasn’t enough for me)
- vinegar and sugar (to add individually, table side)
- Though Andrea says to soak the lentils overnight, mine have always cooked within 30 minutes; I followed her instructions, but would not do that again. Instead, I would add them with the potatoes, and an entire extra liter of water at that time.
- Dice the onions and brown them slightly with bacon fat (which I had left in the pan from breakfast)
- Add the diced carrots and celery, or loveage, and sweat them for 2 to three minutes (Andrea’s recipe didn’t call for celery, but leeks, instead; I had loveage, no celery or leeks)
- Cover with water, add the bay leaves, and let simmer about 90 minutes (this extra time was to develop a lovely stock)
- Remove loveage, if used; remove beef shanks, debone and cube (sorry, no photo, but did this)
- Add beef back into the stock, add the bones back in until service, for increased flavour (ensure the marrow gets pushed into the soup)
- At this time, Andrea advises to add the soaked lentils with their liquid, and the thyme and simmer for 30 minutes which I did; instead, I would add the dry lentils, the potatoes and sausage and another litre of water at this point, and simmer for 45 minutes)
- Dice the sausage
- Dice the potatoes (the smaller you make them the quicker they will cook)
- Add potatoes and sausage and tomato paste to the soup and let them cook for another 15 min
- Add the wieners to heat at the end
- I had some cubed veal stock in the freezer which I added to intensify the broth; it was lighter without it, and complex and lovely with it
Note: There is beef, veal jus, and loveage (removed) in my soup and it is missing the leeks. I adore leeks and they would only make the soup even better. I doubt the beef changed the flavour, but know that the soup was definitely meatier because of it.
I really enjoyed making this soup and the learning that accompanied it. I will not make it again as it has far too much meat in it for me. I was convinced my uber carnivore would love it, but he doesn’t. No explanation. Personally, I found the lentils too mushy. Their skins slipped off and that is unappealing to me in my mouth. I would mill them dry, in the future, and add them with the water, potatoes and sausage for a lovely thickener. The soup would be different as the broth would not be as clear, but I wouldn’t have that lentil texture inside of my mouth. However, as it is a featured ingredient, that would probably be blasphemous.
You can see that Andrea didn’t add as much tomato paste as I did, and my broth is thicker, for some reason. It looks like she used black lentils and cut her potatoes bigger which could affect the thickness of the broth. I can see the leeks in her soup, too. Wish I could taste it! I would dearly love to taste the authentic version as her broth just looks so much more complex.
Is it just me? Love your Lentils! They are so good for you and such a prize to have in your pantry to feed to your family. And, they are easy to hide in dishes, if you are like me, and find the texture… well – yucky. Check out other recipes on the Love your Lentils site. While you’re there, if you’re so inclined, vote for your favourite lentil recipe! There are some cool prizes to be won: a blogger, a home chef, and a voter will all win the chance to join Chef Michael Smith in Saskatchewan on June 23, 2013 for a culinary adventure. Isn’t that an opportunity not to be missed?