What is Kartoffelsuppe?
Kartoffelsuppe is a traditional German, Austrian and Bavarian soup made primarily with potatoes (Kartoffeln).
In Austria it is known as Erdäpfelsuppeand in Bavaria (specifically, Oberpfalz – the Upper Palatinate), this soup is called Pälzer Grumbeersupp or Pälzer Grumbeersupp’.
This rich and satisfying dish can be pureed until velvety smooth, or left unmashed for chunks of potatoes and other vegetables in a broth.
In other cases, Kartoffelsuppe can be coarse and thick, in which case it is called Kartoffeleintopf (potato stew).
In Bavaria it is traditionally eaten with Kartoffelsuppe (Pälzer Grumbeersupp). Dampfnudeln (steamed buns) or Zwetschgenkuchen (plum cake, or Quetschekuche in the Palatinate).
What is the origin of Kartoffelsuppe?
Some sources claim that Kartoffelsuppe was first built in Bavaria during the High Middle Ages. However, since the potato did not reach what is now Germany until the late 16th century, this would seem to be a completely false claim.
Especially considering that initially, in central Europe, potatoes were not even cultivated for food but for their flowers, as ornamental plants. This may be due to the fact that people believed that potatoes themselves were harmful and therefore inedible.
Another source claims that the first recipe for Kartoffelsuppe appeared in a cookbook published in Linz in 1621, where it was called Erdäpfelsuppe (“apple soup from the earth”). While this may be true, it does not prove that Kartoffelsuppe was invented in the 17th century, or that it originated in Austria. Only then did the recipe become known.
What is certain, however, is that after more than a hundred years to establish itself, by the middle of the 18th century, the potato was finally seen as a nutritious food, and therefore it is not out of place to suppose that in that period, Potato soup had already become a staple food in many areas.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any definitive proof of the actual origin of Kartoffelsuppe, nor any original recipe. Various regions claim this, but the bottom line seems to be that, given the myriad variations and preparation methods, the most likely answer is that it is a soup that has evolved organically over time and geography.
soup in germany
For the average German, soup is one of the most important elements of a meal. In fact, it could be said that a meal is not complete without soup. Most Germans eat soup every day. Sometimes more than once a day.
Although it is usually eaten as an appetizer, it is also common to have a soup as a main course. When eaten as a main course, these soups are generally larger and often contain some form of meat.
In Bavaria, it’s not uncommon to have a bowl of goulash-like soup as a late-night snack.
The story of Supen-Kaspar
Suppen-Kaspar appears in Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann’s 1845 book, Lustige Geschichten und drollige Bilder mit 15 schön kolorierten Tafeln für Kinder von 3–6 Jahren (“Funny stories and fun pictures with 15 beautifully colored panels for children ages 3-6”).
Later editions were renamed, Der Struwwelpeter (“Shock-Headed Peter”), named after the first character in the book.
Within this collection of poems and stories, Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar (“The Story of Soup-Kaspar”) is a warning about what could happen if you don’t eat your own soup. This is a story virtually every German child has grown up with since the mid-19th century.
In the poem, Kaspar is a plump but healthy boy who has always liked to eat soup. But one day, he suddenly decides that he doesn’t want to eat it and refuses, yelling out loud three times that he doesn’t eat soup.
On the second day, although he looks thinner, he still loudly refuses to eat his soup. On the third day he is thin and weak, but he still refuses.
On the fourth day, still in denial, Kaspar seems “like a thread.” And on the fifth day that he did not eat his soup, Kaspar died.
The poem is accompanied by a series of illustrations showing Kaspar getting progressively thinner, until the final image, which is a tomb, on which sits a large tureen.
Hoffman, a doctor at a Frankfurt psychiatric hospital, wrote and illustrated “Struwwelpeter” as a Christmas present for his three-year-old son, after becoming frustrated by the lack of suitable children’s books in his local bookstore.
Soon family and friends, impressed by the book, persuaded Hoffman to publish it. He is now considered the forefather of modern comics and continues to influence modern literature, art, theatre, film, television, and music.
It also has a place in modern psychiatric medicine. While the stories may seem outlandish at first glance, if somewhat macabre by modern standards, it is now clear that they are actually allegorical, alluding to mental health conditions that children sometimes experience.
Suppen-Kaspar, for example, is a literary illustration of a child suffering from anorexia nervosa.
In order for the Kartoffelsuppe to be completely smooth and velvety, once blended, pass it through a strainer to remove any bits of herbs or bits of vegetables that are not well blended.
A little white wine can be added to further elevate the flavor, while the cream enhances the texture and provides a very satisfying mouthfeel.
Similarly, a thick slice of rustic bread can be baked with the soup and then blended to give it a thick, creamy texture.
Strips, biscuits, or small pieces of grated bacon, cooked until crisp, create a delicious, crunchy topping. Cut into cubes KasselerA type of smoked salt pork can also be used. Another option is to add pieces of smoked salmon.
If you prefer a thick Kartoffelsuppe, all the vegetables should be cut into the same size pieces so that they cook evenly. First you have to sauté them (preferably in butter) to release their flavor and natural sugars, then deglaze the pan with the broth. Herbs, seasonings and more broth are then added and the soup is simmered as usual.
Once the desired doneness has been achieved, the Kartoffelsuppe can be garnished with fresh parsley and other seasonings.
Crispy toppings are very popular and include croutons, streaky bacon, and crispy fried onions.
If making the Kartoffeleintopf (braised) version, use a little less broth or more potatoes and keep the soup thick. When cooked, add the chopped Debreziner, a spicy paprika sausage originally from Hungary.
The other options are chopped. Wiener Würstchen (known as Frankfurter Würstel in Austria). These are not to be confused with the small canned American sausages, frankfurters (Viennese sausages).
Kartoffelsuppe (potato soup) is a traditional German and Austrian soup whose basic ingredient is potatoes.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Austrian, German
Servings: 4 people
Author: Nicole Rossetti the Stranger
- 2 pounds starchy potatoes, peeled and diced
- 4 oz. celery, peeled and diced
- 3 onions, sliced
- 1 leek, cut into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, squeezed
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 liter of meat broth (or poultry or vegetable broth, very hot)
- 8 slices of bacon
- ½ cup cream
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ bunch of chopped chives
- ½ teaspoon marjoram, optional
- dutch oven
- Baking tray
- immersion blender
In a dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the celeriac, garlic and leek and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Then add the potatoes and half the parsley and mix well.
Add the marjoram (optional) and mix.
Pour over the broth and mix.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 35 minutes.
Towards the end of cooking, preheat the convection oven to 180°C.
Arrange the bacon slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Cook and brown bacon for 8-10 minutes or until crisp.
Remove from oven and set aside.
At the end of 35 minutes of cooking, add the cream to the pan.
Reduce the soup to a creamy consistency with a hand mixer.
Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Serve soup sprinkled with grilled bacon strips, remaining parsley and spring onions.
Amount per proportion
calories 511 calories from fat 270
% Daily value *
saturated fat 10g63%
Trans fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated fats 11g
Monounsaturated fat 8g
Cholesterol 36 milligrams12%
Sodium 61 milligrams3%
Potassium 1248 milligrams36%
carbohydrates 56 grams19%
Vitamin A 1150 IU23%
vitamin C 30 milligrams36%
Football 102 milligrams10%
Iron 3 milligrams17%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Die Echte Bayerische Küche by Susanne Seethaler Bavarian Cuisine by BookSumo PressKnödel-Blues: Oma Eberhofers Bayerisches Provinz-Kochbuch by Rita Falk (EN) – DampfnudelWikipedia (EN) – ZwetschgenkuchenWikipedia (DE) – KasselerGutenbergWikipedia (EN) – StruwwelpeterWikipedia (EN) – Heinrich Hoffman (Author)
Venetian-British Nicole has always lived a nomadic existence and had 56 homes around the world. As a chef, she has cooked in professional kitchens in Thailand, India and Great Britain and has consulted on restaurant and hotel menus from Japan to the United States. Her work has been featured in some of the world’s most famous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Grazia, Femina, Stylecaster, Buzzfeed and The Guardian. At yumsome.com, she shares stories and recipes from her travels.