Grünkohlsuppe Recipe from an American Kitchen- German Kale Soup

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…

Grünkohlsuppe from an American Kitchen- Denglish Kale Soup

Grünkohlsuppe will warm you up on a cold day. It's also a great meal to stretch a few ingredients a long way. 
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cuisine German
Servings 6 -8


  • 1 Yellow Onion medium to large
  • 3-4 slices 100gr Bacon
  • 2 Tbl cooking Oil Olive or Vegetable is fine
  • 2 bunches 500 gr, 8 cups chopped Kale (add more if you like)
  • 1 ring approx 400 gr of smoked Kielbasa (more or less)
  • 6 cups around 1.5 L Beef Broth (add less or more depending on how far you want to stretch it)
  • 2 lg 600 gr Russet Potatoes (about 4 cup peeled and cut up)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • have salt and pepper on hand... just in case


  • Use a large soup pot with a lid.
  • Peel and dice the onion.
  • Chop the bacon into a rough dice
  • Put 2 Tbl oil into the soup pot, heat over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes.
  • You want the onion soft, and the bacon to render a bit... but you don't need it to brown.
  • Prepare the Kale by discarding the tough stems, and rough chopping the rest.
  • Add the broth and Kale to the pot, stir a bit.
  • Bring broth to a boil
  • Place the sausage on top to the Kale
  • Reduce heat to low, place the sausage on top of the Kale, cover and let it cook for 30 minutes.
  • While it's cooking, peel and cut up the potatoes. You want pieces around 1 inch... but it doesn't have to look perfect.
  • After the Kale has cooked 30 minutes, remove the sausage to a plate
  • Add the potatoes to the Kale, stir, and cook for another 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, add the nutmeg and stir
  • Slice the sausage
  • Add the sliced sausage to the soup.
  • Stir
  • Now TASTE it. The sausage, bacon, and broth should have made it salty enough. Add salt and pepper if NEEDED.
  • Serve with bread for a complete meal.


I make beef broth using "Better than Bullion", and it makes a fairly rich broth, so I don't need to add more salt. If you use a canned stock/broth, or your own, adjust the seasoning as needed. 
Also, you can make this soup vegetarian by using a vegetable broth, and leaving out the meat. 

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gruenkohlsuppe recipe

6 thoughts on “Grünkohlsuppe Recipe from an American Kitchen- German Kale Soup

  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. It Looks So Yummy, I Am A Food Lover And when It Comes Out As A One Pot Meal I Just Can’t Wait To Try It.
    Thanx For Sharing This Wonderful And Easy Recipe.

  3. 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.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed this soup. Something like my German mom would have made. I must say the nutmeg added the perfect finishing touch to this dish. Thank you

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