German potato soup | Kartoffelsuppe (Recipe)

Flatlay of a bowl of German potato soup garnished with sliced Wiener sausage and parsley
My husband and I have both got proper winter colds.  Fuelled by a renewed and rather urgent desire to write – and to hunt for things to write about – I’ve been trying to power through mine, but my husband, as is so often the way, has been totally knocked out.  Feeling a little improved last Friday evening, we drank a bit of wine and discussed plans to go to Frankfurt the next day, to visit a museum or two and stop for a quick drink at the Christmas market.  But the next morning, my husband had been struck down by a new wave of man flu, and it became quickly apparent we weren’t going anywhere.  He retreated to his favourite chair with the Saturday papers, and I heard nothing from him until lunchtime, when he started muttering about the soothing properties of soup, and more specifically, German potato soup.  I sprang into action.

This German potato soup is far greater than the sum of its parts.  The potatoes are cooked with a selection of other winter veg that give the dish a wonderful depth of flavour.  The carrots, celeriac, leek and parsley are available in Germany in prepared bundles known as Suppengrün or Suppengemüse (soup greens, or soup vegetables), and are used as a base for all sorts of soups and stews.

Piles of vegetables at the Mainz farmers' market, Germany
Bundles of Suppengrün between some big white turnips (Mairübe) and some even bigger, pale green Kohlrabi

The vegetables are made rich with the addition a little cream, and the dish is finished off with a Wienerwürstchen, warmed through in water and sliced.  Wieners in the UK have a rather bad reputation; they’re usually suspiciously straight and sweaty-looking, and they don’t taste of much to boot.  Proper German Wieners, on the other hand, can be excellent, so get the best (ideally organic) ones you can find, and if you can’t find good ones outside Germany, then don’t use them at all.  The soup is just as filling and moreish without the sausage, and if you swap the beef stock for veg, you’ll have an excellent vegetarian soup instead.

German Potato Soup | serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large carrots (approximately 200g), chopped
1 small chunk of celeriac (approximately 150g), peeled and chopped
1 small leek, dark green part discarded; white part washed thoroughly, halved and chopped
600g floury potatoes (mehligkochend), chopped roughly into 2cm pieces
1.25 l stock (beef or vegetable)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
100ml cream
4-6 Wiener sausages (1 per person)
Fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish

Method

Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot and add the onions, then cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent and turning golden brown.  Add the carrots and celeriac, stir to mix with the onion and coat with the butter, and sweat for 2 minutes.  Tip in the leek and potato, mix with the other vegetables, and then add the stock, bay leaf, a good grating of nutmeg and some salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cover and leave to cook for 25 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft (try crushing a bit of carrot with against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon, it should squash easily).

Remove the bayleaf and purée the soup with a stick blender.  I like mine smooth, but you can keep it as chunky as you wish.  Pour in the cream and check for seasoning.

For the sausages, bring a pot of water to the boil, turn it off and lower them in.  Leave to warm through for 5 minutes, then remove and once they’re cool enough to touch, slice into 5mm-1cm thick pieces as you prefer.  (You can also simply add them to the soup whole to warm through and serve them whole, but I find them hard work to eat straight from the soup that way.)

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the sausage pieces and parsley.  Guten Appetit!

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