German food often gets stereotyped as consisting mainly of large hunks of meat or sausage. But that really doesn’t tell the whole story of German Cuisine. I grew up eating German Soups, Stews and Eintopfe. At least once a week my mother would cook a hearty soup or Eintopf that, along with with a slice of bread and butter, would fill us up. Those meals were a great way to feed growing kids and an hungry husband a filling, nourishing, healthy and DELICIOUS meal that didn’t cost the earth. And, the soup pot was big, so we always got to take leftovers to school in a Thermos the next day. (YUM!)
Germans Eat a LOT of Soup
German Soups can be simple… a rich broth with some added vegetables, meat or even Eierkuchen/German Pancake ribbons. Or they can be an Eintopf, rich, thick and a filling meal loaded with vegetables or legumes like a Green Bean Eintopf or Linsen Suppe. Warm soups could be made quickly, or left to simmer on the stove for hours while you are doing other things were perfect for cold winters. And cool and sweet soups, refreshing on a summer’s day. You just need a good stock pot for all of these recipes. If you’re looking for one, you may check some options on this list.
My Oma typically gave us a simple soup as a Vorspeise (first course). She simmered bones and vegetables to make her broth, then augmented it with Eierstich (egg, cooked into a thick custard or like an omlette, then cut into bits for the soup), fine noodles, or Backerbsen. (I always imagined these broth soups filling the corners in an empty stomach). The main meal would follow, and the roasted chicken would stretch just a little bit further. Since my mother’s family came from another corner of Germany, she was in the habit of making heartier soups and Eintopf. The soup WAS the meal. But no one ever left the table hungry. (BTW. Eintopf is defined by being a hearty soup or stew all prepared in one pot “Ein Topf”… I tend to use the terms interchangably)
Today I still put German soups on the table for my people, especially in Winter. Hearty soups made from scratch, as well as light simple soups from a packet. And my people love them!
German Soups Stews & Eintopfe
NOTE! Like most foods in Germany, there will be regional differences in recipes. For example, my mother makes her Goulasch Suppe (Goulash Soup) hearty like a stew with chunks of meat, potato and carrot. Others cooks serve it chunk free. Both are correct, both are delicious!
Linsen Suppe/ Lentil Soup
Linsen Suppe or Lentil Soup is a hearty German Soup that my mother usually served with Sausage cut into it, either Wieners (Frankfurters) or a smoked Sausage. It takes a little time to make, but once you have the pot bubbling on the stove, you can set it to simmer and walk away. Adding vinegar may seem a little odd, but it totally makes the soup taste right.
Serve with a good German bread for a complete meal.
Find the Recipe here–> Linsensuppe Recipe
Flädelsuppe/ Pancake Soup
One of the core values in every German Kitchen? NOTHING IS WASTED. Nothing. Not bread (which becomes bread crumbs to panier the pork chops or Schnitzel), not pancakes, which go into soup. Pancakes in SOUP? Yes… remember, these aren’t American Pancakes, which would probably dissolve as soon as they landed in the broth, these are German Eierkuchen. More like a crepe. And in a beef broth… delightful!
Find a recipe here–> Flädelsuppe Recipe
Bohnen Eintopf/ Green Bean Soup
Is it a soup? Is it an Eintopf? One of my favorite meals is Bohnensuppe, and I’m surprised that this recipe hasn’t made the crossover to the American kitchen. Green Beans in a beef broth flavored with Savory (Bohnenkraut). I cook mine with chunks of beef and potato… and if I’m in a hurry, I’ll substitute ground beef. It’s always good, and all of those green beans mean it’s good for you!
Find the Recipe here–> Bohneneintopf Recipe
Spargelsuppe/ Asparagus Soup
Germans LOVE White Asparagus. This can’t be emphasized enough. When Spargel Season rolls around in the Spring, there is a collective buying and cooking frenzy. And my overall favorite way to enjoy asparagus? A simple Spargelsuppe or Asparagus Cream Soup. This light soup makes a perfect starter to a heavier meal, or a nice light meal with a sandwich. One slurp of this creamy delicate soup is really all you need to understand what all the Spargel Madness is about…
Find a Recipe here–> Spargelsuppe Recipe
Hühnernudelsuppe/ Chicken Noodle Soup
There are probably more recipes for Hühnernudelsuppe… Chicken Noodle Soup... then there are Omas, simply because there are so many ways to change things up. (My secret ingredient… LEEKS… don’t tell anyone) My Oma generally made it more brothy, with thin noodles (or on special days, ALPHABET NOODLES!), but it also came to the table with thick egg noodles. Sometime the soup is delicate, with small 1 cm cubes of chicken, other times (like when I’m cooking) the soup is loaded with larger pieces of shredded or chopped chicken and chunks of vegetables. No matter HOW it comes to the table, Hühnernudelsuppe is love in a bowl.
Find a Recipes Here–> Feine Hühnernudelsuppe Recipe and Hearty Hühnernudelsuppe Recipe
Goulaschsuppe/ Goulash Soup
Goulaschsuppe may have started in the Eastern reaches of the German Empire, but it has since become a universal dish, finding its way on German menus and tables all across the country. Naturally, in its travels, the recipe changed along the way. When I travel through Germany in Wintertime, Goulaschsuppe and a slice of bread is my go-to meal in the evenings (because I eat heartier mid-day). Sometimes it comes as a thicker broth… other times, it comes like my mother and I make it, with chunks of beef, carrot, and potato in a rich beef broth seasoned with paprika. No matter how it comes to the table, I eat every last bite.
Find a Recipe here–> Goulaschsuppe Recipe
Erbsensuppe/ Pea Soup
Erbsensuppe or Pea Soup, like its Lentil cousin, is a delicious and inexpensive way to fill up a crowd. It works for vegetarians, and with a few sausages, satisfies even the most hungry meat eater at the table. Pea soup also works in a more refined setting as a starter… puree it smooth, and maybe finish with a swirl of sherry. I have eaten a LOT of Erbsensuppe in all forms, and have yet to meet one I don’t like.
Find a recipe here–> Erbsensuppe Recipe
Grunkohlsuppe / Kale Soup
Germans were eating Kale before it was cool, so you would find Grünkohl Suppe on the table in many northern German homes frequently during winter months. Naturally different Omas use differing recipes, but all are delicious. This recipe, adapted for the American kitchen, uses smoked kielbasa sausage.
Find the recipe here–> Grünkohl Suppe
Hochzeitsuppe mit Eierstich/ Wedding Soup with Egg Royale
Hochzeitsuppe mit Eierstich turns up as a first course at a lot of weddings in Germany, but you also find it on restaurant menus. My Oma served the basic broth with vegetables and Eierstich as a starter before meals as well. Basically, Hochzeitsuppe is a clear broth with small meatballs, carefully sliced bits of vegetable, maybe noodles, maybe Eierstich. It’s light, and whets your appetite for more. My Aunt frequently makes Eierstich as a nice vegetarian addition to clear soup.
Here is a recipe for the Wedding Soup –> Hochzeitsuppe Recipe
Simple Chicken Broth with Additions
Serving a simple chicken broth makes the perfect starter to a heavier meal. It also works to warm you up at lunchtime, turning a simple sandwich into a nice meal. You can add fine noodles, Eierstich or Backerbsen to liven it up. (Backerbsen aren’t “baked peas” as the name implies, they are actually pea sized balls of fried dough.. find them here- Backerbsen) Sprinkle on some parsley for flavor and to “fancy it up”!
Find a recipe for broth here–> Chicken Broth with Eierstich
Pilzsuppe/ Mushroom Soup
Bavarian Cream of Mushroom Soup from Spoonfuls of Germany
If the only mushroom soup you ever tasted came out of a can, you NEED to try fresh, homemade Pilzsuppe or Mushroom Soup. Yes, I know that the can is convenient (and you can use the gooey stuff inside to make all sorts of circa 1950s casseroles), but for flavor, nothing beats the real thing. Bonus points if you are in Germany, and you collect your own mushrooms (please don’t go out in the woods to collect and eat mushrooms if you don’t have someone showing you which ones are edible!) Find a recipe here–>Pilzsuppe Recipe
Ochsenschwanzsuppe / Oxtail Soup
Oechsenschwanzsuppe started off as a poor man’s dish because rich people ate the “better” cuts of meat, leaving the odds and ends for the peasants. But like many off-cuts, this piece of meat can be transformed into an amazingly rich soup with deep flavors. I seldom make it, mostly because Oxtails aren’t easy to get in my local grocery (and the prices have gone up considerably), but when I do have it, my spoon chases down every last drop in the bowl.
Find a Recipe here–> Ochsenschwanzsuppe Recipe
Leberknödelsuppe / Liver Dumpling Soup
Leberknödelsuppe never made an appearance on our table (I don’t think my mother was a fan of liver), still, this ranks as one of the more popular German Soups. Dumplings or Knödel made from beef liver, bread, and seasonings are gently simmered, then served in a simple beef broth.
Find a recipe here–> Leberknödelsuppe Recipe
Graupensuppe/ Barley Soup
My absolute hands down favorite soup growing up? Graupensuppe or Barley Soup. (Graupe is Pearl Barley… RAUPE is a Caterpillar. Yes, mixing the words up was fun for me as a child, and my sister is still angry) And the Black Forest Lodge outside Chester, California served the absolute best Barley Soup EVER (sorry mom). The waitress brought the thick and delicious soup to the table in a big tureen along with a basket of authentic sourdough and unsalted butter. (I could have eaten the whole pot myself, except that I needed to save room for the Schnitzel). Make it with or without meat, it’s filling either way.
Find a recipe here–> Graupensuppe Recipe
Kaltschale/ Chilled Fruit Soup
Chilled fruit soup? YES! Kaltschale came to our table a lot in Southern California. Cold, sweet, but not too sweet, filling, but not heavy, and lots of extra needed fluids for the summertime. Plus, for us kids, it was like having dessert for dinner! The fruits in the soup changed, usually there were cherries, often there were berries, and on bad days there were raisins. (That I may or may not have smuggled into my pockets) My mother served the soup with bread and Aufschnitt for a refreshing meal that didn’t heat up the house.
Find a recipe here–> Kaltschale Recipe
Find Quick German Soup Mixes Here
These quick to make instant soups are perfect as a starter, or to make a simple sandwich lunch a bit more fancy and filling.