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Grünkohlsuppe Recipe from an American Kitchen- German Kale Soup

Grünkohlsuppe Recipe from an American Kitchen- German Kale Soup

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In Northern Germany Grünkohl or Kale comes to the table quite often in winter. (I was eating Kale WAY before Kale was cool). People will even make a Grünkohlfahrt (giggle), which is a strenuous hike followed by a traditional meal of Kale. My mother’s kitchen was German, that meant WE ate a lot of Kale too. But I grew up in Southern California at a time when shopping for a lot of German products required a road trip. My mother was undaunted! She just made substitutions using the “next best thing”, and kept on cooking German food. Her Grünkohlsuppe (German Kale Soup) is a classic example. Instead of Mettwurst, she would use smoked Polish Kielbasa sausage. And it works. The soup is hearty with potatoes and sausage, but “healthy” because it’s loaded with Kale. And the broth…. mmmmmm.

Of course, when I took the soup to school in my thermos, I freaked out the other children in the cafeteria!

Note- There is another classic Kale dish in Ostfriesen and NordDeutschland… Grünkohl mit Pinkel. While similar, the dish isn’t a soup. Pinkel Wurst (sausage) is made from pork, oats, bacon, and spices like cloves and marjoram (and originally, BRAINS). It’s definitely not a sausage you find everywhere… (and the word Pinkel makes me giggle… ). The Kale is cooked and served with boiled potatoes and the Pinkel sausage on a plate. 

grünkohlsuppe recipe

Back to the Kale soup.

The upside of learning to cook from your mother and Oma, is that you can become a fairly decent cook. The downside, not a lot is written down. So when it came time to write up the recipe, I had to slow down and think it out. I even referred to a few German cookbooks to see if I was missing something. (Remember, German kitchen in an American household… different ingredients). The closest in flavor to what I grew up with and still enjoy came from a cookbook I got from my Tante Anne… “Heimat Häppchen: So kocht NRW” by Anja Tanas. But I still adjusted things a bit. I’ve always used beef broth instead of vegetable, and I added a bit more of the broth for a more soup-like consistency. (Wondering now if my mother made it more soupy to STRETCH the meal to a few days?)

Enough blather…

I guess what I’m trying to express is this. Soup is soup. How you make it, the adjustments you make, depend on what ingredients you have on hand. Don’t overthink it. Taste it while it’s cooking, and make it the way YOU like it.

Germans Eat a LOT of Soups… find your Favorites here…. German Soups Stews and Eintopfe

Here’s the basic recipe for my Grünkohlsuppe…

Looking for more recipes?

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gruenkohlsuppe recipe


  1. My Opa was a tremendous cook as was my father. It was, however, pretty frustrating when they were trying to teach me to make some favorite dishes and every time I asked “How much?” they would always say “You’ll know.” In the end, “You’ll know” is accurate but it took me so many years to get it. Its an understanding of your food and how flavours layer and develop. That understanding is not quantifiable…its not a pinch, a drizzle, a cup or kilo. It just is.

    1. exactly… You add, you taste. Different people will appreciate different flavors.
      Baking is more “precise”, but cooking? a recipe is only a guideline

  2. The Time that I lived in Germany, I never heard or ate Kale soup. The soup looks so good and I love soups. Unfortunately I won’t ever be able to eat the Kale soup. I have very bad Blood clots and I’m not allowed to eat anything that is loaded with vitamin K. Kale is one of those vegetables that are loaded with vitamin K. So are all all green vegetables. For instants I’m not allowed to eat Cabbage, but I can eat Sauerkraut all I want. I love mixed green salads. That is also a no no, but I can eat ice berg lettuce, but I’m not in love with that. So I seldom ever get to eat a mixed green salad. I do cheat sometimes and will eat a small bowl of it. The same goes with fruit. Some fruits have a lot of vitamin K in it. The older I get the more foods I love gets taken away from me. The Pea soup that you showed us a few weeks ago, I defiantly will make and also the green bean Eintopf. I know if I ask my doctor if I can eat that, his answer will be no, no, you can’t eat that. But I will eat it at least one time, before he forbids it. There goes the Golden Years for me. Nothing golden in there for me. It really can make a catholic raised women want to swear up a storm. So far I refrained myself from doing that. Did I say that right, by saying I refrained myself. Somehow it does not sound right. I promise Karen I will do without Alcohol, Kaffee and what was the third one again for the dates you indicated. That’s pretty funny BTW. But you always good at writing funny letters. I always look forward to getting them. Over the years I have had several dogs. I’m so glad I never had a doggie door. My dogs were German disciplined and also understood two languages. Honestly they understood English and German. Very smart dogs wouldn’t you say? Living in Texas its to dangerous to have doggie doors. I probable would have snakes coming and going in and out of my house. Also Raccoons. Those rascals come to my porch every night and eat leftover cat food. My outside cats are also very polite. They let the Raccoons eat their food. Every once in a while, even a skunk. That’s what I call country living. They are well feed, because the go from one house to the next, and the are not shy either. I can sit outside and the come to my porch about 1 foot away from me. Their mother raised them well, because the always wash their hands in the cats drinking water. I don’t mind them coming here and eat, but I will draw the line when it comes to Scorpions. We will never be friends. I turn into a killer when I see them coming towards my house. The first week we lived up here, I got stung in the boob by one of those little bastards. I learned to become a killer real fast. Happy February to all of you. Be safe, stay healthy. Gigi. Thank you Karen for the soup recipes. Some of them will appear on my table. Tschuess. I used to could write German Letters with my old computer. Wished I had it on this one too.


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