Oh, it's that time of year again. Today is the first calendar day of Fall, my favorite season (or it was my favorite season until I moved to Hamburg where Summer is Fall, but that's a rant for another day). Besides the vibrant autumnal hews, the crisp but not cold afternoons, the clearest skies of any season, the crunching under foot, warm sun on rosy cheeks, American football tailgates, wool socks and turtlenecks coming out of "winter clothes"-marked boxes, hot apple cider - there are infinite reasons to love this season.
Not the least of which is fall FOOD. Which for me, means SOUPS AND STEWS. Mmmmm, chicken and vegetables simmering in a pot all afternoon, filling the house with the smell of cures for colds and celery. Roasts bathing in their own juices and a few robust onions thrown in for good measure - left in the oven ALL. AFTERNOON. LONG. to slow cook to the point the meat falls apart when the strings are cut. And the best part, coming home after a long walk through the foliage and opening the door to be hit by intoxicating smells that make the neighbors believe that I've been home all afternoon slaving away. Honestly, there are few things I love more than someone else in my kitchen cooking for me. And soups and roasts that you can leave on the stove or in the oven all day, cooking on autopilot, it's like a little fairy chef has snuck in to the kitchen and whipped up something while I've been out. Am I making it clear how much I LOVE this concept?
So in honor of the start of Fall and the Fall food season, a German take on Chicken Soup:
First of all, Germans make Chicken Soup soooooo easy: your grocers has "Suppen Huhn" - soup chickens, specifically tailored to go into your pot for soups or stock. And they ALSO have "Suppen Bund" - celery root, carrots and leak all bound together by a rubber band - all the veg you need for a veggie stock. Those Germans - so practical! Bring your chicken, veggies and water to a boil and then turn it way down, cover and let simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste at the end. And to really Germanify your Chicken Soup, just add:
Mmmmm Semmelknödel, what a find you were. Knödel are basically dumplings and I was craving some of the soup dumplings my mom used to put in her chicken soup - bisquick style. You can make the knödel yourself of course - and I am working on learning how and sharing a recipe with you - but you can also buy them in this little box, boil them for ten minutes and throw them in your soup. They are a bit heavy compared to soup dumplings, as the package illustrates they are usually eaten with meat and sauerkraut - (and we will get to that too) - but I thought they worked well with this hearty soup.
This might be overkill, but I also added another miracle of Germanic cuisine:
Oh Backererbsen, how I love you. "Soup Pearls" is the English name given on the package, while the German translation is "baked peas" and the French is something akin to "nut pasta". They are little balls of baked goodness (completely devoid of any nutritional value to be sure) that add that missing crunch to your soup - should you have been thinking, "You know what this soup really needs? Something CRUNCHY!" I know I was thinking that at least. And the kids love them. Kind of like crumbling soda crackers over your soup.
Happy Fall Equinox to All!!