Schwammerlsuppe — Bavarian Mushroom Soup

I’ve been reminiscing about the summer I spent doing research in Munich ever since Oktoberfest started. My former neighbor started sending me pictures of this year’s events– everything from festival set up to his countless liters of beer. Despite taking German classes since 4th grade, I didn’t get my first real experience in Germany until college–I learned about a really exciting research project at the psychiatric clinic at Ludwig Maximilian’s University, and after months of calls, emails, and proposal writing, I managed to get the funding I needed to travel, and intern at the clinic. I moved into one of the apartment buildings where clinic staff live, and discovered that it was literally across the street from the Theresienwiese–the traditional  home venue of Oktoberfest. Although I never got the chance to attend the Fest, I went around tasting everything that I could so that I could try to bring some of those Bavarian flavors home.

Bavaria, Germany’s largest state, is a very proud region with it’s own dialect, and a distinct history. I felt functionally fluent in German in most of my daily activities, but I still stuttered when older people lapsed into the local dialect. Food was my first real avenue into the world through the Bavarian lens.

This is a simple, hearty soup similar to one I often ordered from restaurants on my way home from the clinic. It’s not truly vegetarian, since bacon is used to build flavor, but it’s possible to omit the bacon if you prefer. Either way, this soup is filling, and will be ready to eat in no time.

Also, kochen wir–Let’s cook.

You’ll need:

5 Cups Mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 lb Smoked Bacon, sliced thinly

1/2 Onion, sliced thinly

4 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Leek, sliced thinly

1/2 Cup Parsley, chopped

5 Cups Vegetable Stock

2 Cups Heavy Cream

2 Bay Leaves

1 Tbs Coriander Powder

1/2 Tbs Red Pepper Flakes

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Place a dry stock pot medium-high heat, and sauté bacon until crispy.
  2. Remove bacon, and set aside, then remove half of the bacon fat from the pot, and discard (though, you could always store it in the refrigerator and use it later…).
  3. Stir in mushrooms, and a pinch of salt. When the mushrooms release water, use a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pot, and continue to stir.
  4. Add onions, leeks, garlic, and bay leaves, and continue stirring until the onions caramelize. Stir in coriander, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and additional salt, then add vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to  medium to simmer.
  5. Stir in cream, and parsley, then bring to a boil once more. Taste for seasoning, garnish with bacon from step 1, and serve.

Guten Appetit.

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