Going over the dinner/grocery list the other day, I suddenly had a craving for German Lentil Soup (Linsensuppe)… the kind my mom made…with Würstchen (Frankfurters). When I was a child, we’d each get our own sausage with the soup, and the ends would hang over the bowl. To my 8 year old brain, THAT was the height of luxury! (Honestly, I was a simple kid).
I grew up eating a LOT of Eintopf. These one-pot meals, so familiar in many German households, were filling, nutritious, and most of all inexpensive. (Perfect for feeding a family on a budget.) I cooked these hearty German stews for my family too. And I still cook them, because besides being filling and nutritious, they TASTE so good. When the weather is cold, nothing warms your body and soul the way an Eintopf can. It’s a simple trick, that when done well, can feel like a four star meal. (Especially with that German sausage hanging over both edges of the bowl!)
The BEST base for any soup / stew / Eintopf is a good stock. But stock can take time…and time isn’t a luxury we all have. This German Lentil soup cuts a few corners by using pre-made stock, but leaves plenty of flavor. It does have a bit of “hands on” time, but nothing too complicated. The vinegar may sound like an odd addition, but trust me, it won’t taste right without it.
Also, like many Eintopfe… it tastes great right off the stove, but it’s even better the next day.
Serve it up with some good German bread or rolls (I LOVE the Pumpkin Seed Rolls from The Brot Box) and you have a complete meal that needs a knife and fork!
German Lentil Soup with Frankfurters
- 1 Soup Pot
- 1 large Strainer
- 1 ¼ cup Lentils
- 2 strips Bacon Diced
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 1 med. Onion diced
- 1 cup Carrot diced
- ¾ cup Celery sliced to ⅓ inch... dice if you want
- 1 med. Leek white part, sliced
- 1 ½ cup Potato peeled and diced
- 6 cups Beef Stock
- 1 Teaspoon Better than Boullion Optional. This adds extra richness.
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
- 2-3 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley chopped
- 1-2 Tablespoons Fresh Loveage (Maggikraut) OPTIONAL! chopped
- 4-6 German Wieners or beef Frankfurters
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Maggi Liquid Seasoning (to taste) optional
- Rinse the lentils, picking out any stones. Then put them into a soup pot with 4 1/2 cups water.Bring to a Boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. Let simmer 20 minutes.Strain the lentils and discard the cooking liquid. Leave the lentils in the strainer for a moment.Rinse out the soup pot.
- Put the butter into the soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon. Stir while the bacon renders/browns for a minute or two.Add the butter. When it's melted, add the onion, carrot, celery, and leek. Stir the vegetables while soften for 5 minutes.
- Add the Lentils and Potatoes to the vegetables. Add in the beef stock. Add the Bay Leaf, and half of the Vinegar. Add half of the fresh parsley and all of the lovage (maggikraut) if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Continue cooking for 20 minutes.
- Taste the soup. Add Salt and Pepper. Add the rest of the vinegar. (add some "better than boullion" if you want more flavor)Then add the Wieners/Frankfurters. Let cook at a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. (Don't boil at this time, or your sausages will POP!)Do a final taste. Sprinkle with the rest of the fresh parsley. Serve everyone a Wiener of their own on top of the soup.
Celery vs. Celeric
Some of you practiced cooks may notice that I changed up the standard German Suppengrün a bit. Suppengrün is made up of Carrot, Celeriac, and Leek, and this trinity of veggies forms the base of most German soups and stews. In Germany you can even find them packaged and sold together. The thing is, finding celeriac in an American supermarket can be tricky (if not impossible). For soups like this, green celery works just fine.
For the past few years I’ve grown Lovage or Maggikraut in my herb bed. The leaves supposedly taste like Maggi seasoning… but to me, it has more of a deep celery flavor. I find it wonderful when added to soups. While it’s not essential, it does add nice flavor. If you have room in your garden, give it a try. The stuff grows like crazy, and comes back every year. Read more about it here.
German Bread for a Complete Meal
A German Eintopf has just about everything you need in it to make a complete meal… but it’s always better with some German bread. A hearty slice of Rye or some Seeded Rolls. Find them here, at the Brot Box.