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Biersuppe

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 06 February 2012 at 13:53

This is a very old dish in Germany, at least from the Middle Ages.

From Time/Life's Foods of the World - The Cooking of Germany, 1969:

Quote As the Middle ages drew to a close and the Renaissance began, German life changed. Cities became more powerful, and with them, a new urban middle class. An age of trade began, bringing new goods and grerat wealth to Germany....In terms of food, the results of the trading reached down to the actual consumer; at the end of the 15th Century, Bozen and other markets of the inland Tyrol dold such imported delicacies as capers, rice, almonds, figs, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, currants from Smyrna, Polish mustard, cinnamon and precious sugar....

As the renaissance progressed, the art of fine cooking sifted down from the nobles to the rising middle classes, who quickly adopted an extravagantstyle of eating and drinking. In Germany, the age of Humanism and the Reformation brought a new freedom of behaviour and a new luxury of living. Now the new bourgeoisie could keep up with princes and nobles when it came to feasting.

Seven hundred guests were invited to the wedding of a Berlin maiden at the end of the 16th Century. The meal started with a beer soup heavily spiced with pepper and ginger, served on a table set with enormous cheeses. The first full course included a gruel of millet tinted with saffron and enriched with sausages, mutton and kale, veal tinted with saffron, roast venison with garlic and onions, and roast boar and spice cakes. The second course brough ham and bread, a second gruel of millet, bread with caraway and fennel, boiled fish, a selection of venison baked in a crust, and a cream of almonds. The beverages included spiced wine and four kinds of beer.

Here's one recipe, from Time/Life:
 
Quote Heisse Biersuppe
Hot Beer Soup
 
To serve 4:
  • 3 12-ounce bottles or cans of light beer
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
Pour the beer and sugar into a heavy 4- to 5-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved, then remove the pan from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk or fork to break them up, and beat in the sour cream a little at a time. Stir in about 1/4 cup of the hot beer into the mixture, and then whisk it into the beer. Add the cinnamon, salt and a few grindings of pepper. Return the pan to low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the soup thickens slightly. Do not let boil or it may curdle.

Taste for seasoning and serve at once from a heated tureen or in individual soup bowls.

Another source, Culinaria Germany, agrees that this is a very old dish, but gives a slightly different perspective:

Quote Since the Middle Ages, beer soup has been a common dish in Germany, and has generally been consumed in the morning for breakfast. In once used to be thickened stodgily with flour so that it made a filling meal. It has, however, been refined over the centuries with the addition of lemon peel, cinammon, sugar and raisins, as well as egg yolk, which combine to give the soup the final, stylish touch.
 
Culinaria has a recipe for beer soup is from Munich; it has the same base (light beer, sugar, salt, pepper, egg yolks and cream), but is spiced with lemon, nutmeg and caraway:
 
Quote
 
Münchner Biersuppe
Munich Beer Soup
 
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups (1 litre) light beer
Salt, pepper and sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway
A pinch of ground nutmeg
The juice of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup (100 millilitres) cream
4 tablespoons croutons
 
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the beer, season with salt and pepper, a pinch of sugar, caraway, nutmeg and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, and remove from the heat at once. Whisk the egg yolks with the cream, and stir into the soup. Serve with croutons.
 
Culinaria Also has a recipe for Sorbian beer soup, which reflects Germany's Slavic population near Spree Forest and Lausitz Bergland:
 
Quote
 
Sorbische Biersuppe
Sorbian Beer Soup
 
1 cup (250 millilitres) lager
1 cup (250 millilitres) malt beer
2 cups (500 millilitres) milk
2 Tablespoons flour
Scant 1/2 cup (100 grams) cream
Sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup (100 grams) raisins
 
Mix the beers together and heat them through. In another pan, bring the milk to a boil and pour it into the beer. Blend the flour and cream together and use the mixture to thicken the soup. Bring to a boil again and season to taste with sugar and salt. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the beaten egg. Pour the soup into soup cups and sprinkle the raisins on top.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2012 at 18:13
I am fond of beer and cheese soup so I need to try this recipe.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2012 at 09:42
karl - i've got all the stuff on hand to make the first one (Heisse Biersuppe) - , probably this weekend.
 
if you want to make the second one (Münchner Biersuppe), we'll get kind of a two-for-one deal! Smile
 
one thing - i am guessing that german "light beer" is much different than american "light beer." in the german context, i am sure they are referring more to colour, possibly a specific class (such as say, pilsener or something along those lines). i am not an expert on foreign beers, so i don't know. any suggestions? one thing i am sure of, i am sure they don't mean any of the darker, more full-bodied beers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2012 at 10:27
Other than the beer I think that I have everything else on hand for the second recipe.  I have some guinea pigs guests coming over Saturday night.  They are far from adventurous eaters so if they like it that would validate the recipe.  When I lived in Germany I noticed that beer terminology varied widely by region but some sort of light colored wheat beer thin enough that a spoon will not stand up in it should work.  We might try and prepare a dinner that parallels the German wedding feast just for grins.  (The millet gruels, pork roast, spice cakes, but I am out of venison.)  Of course my lovely wife has veto authority over all such plans. 

Old German Spice Cake: http://www.recipe4living.com/recipes/old_german_spice_cake.htm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2012 at 10:33
hey, karl - i agree with your assessment ono the beer. i was thinking of a light-coloured wheat beer also. and i think i have just the thing for it - will check and see.
 
assuming that mrs. karl goes for it, your german wedding feast sounds like it will be great! hope it works out, and looking forward to hearing about it! Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Daikon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2012 at 20:47
I just tried the Münchner Biersuppe.  It was okay, but soups are all about balance, and this one tasted unbalanced to me.  I made it with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is a little more hoppy and bitter than the light beers and weiss biers that you guys are thinking of using.  Even so, it was on the acid side.  If I were to try it again, I'd use no more than half a lemon....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2012 at 21:54
>>>I made it with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is a little more hoppy and bitter than the light beers and weiss biers...<<<
 
one that i was considering was trout slayer ale for the heisse biersuppe:
 
 
but i if your pale ale experience was unsatisfactory, it might not be the best choice.
 
i'd like to stick with a montana-brewed beer, if possible - perhaps bayern's pilsener would be the one:
 
 
or, based on it's description, bayern's st. wilbur weizen might be the way to go:
 
 
there might be a couple of choices in the "light, non-bitter" category - which is what i am looking for with this. i will take a look tomorrow or friday.
 
finding out should be fun, though!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 February 2012 at 10:00
For those interested, I added one more biersuppe recipe to the original post. This one reflects the Slavic population of Germany.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 February 2012 at 12:09
I tried this recipe Saturday night:

Münchner Biersuppe
Munich Beer Soup
 
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups (1 litre) light beer
Salt, pepper and sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway
A pinch of ground nutmeg
The juice of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup (100 millilitres) cream
4 tablespoons croutons
 
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the beer, season with salt and pepper, a pinch of sugar, caraway, nutmeg and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, and remove from the heat at once. Whisk the egg yolks with the cream, and stir into the soup. Serve with croutons.

It did not go over well.  It was too thin (even after adding a little flour to thicken it), very beery, and a bit too lemony.  It needs something else.  I think that I'll stick to beer and cheese soup for now.  On the other hand, none of us who tried it are beer drinkers. 

On a better note, I guesstimated the millet gruel recipe which was much better received.   Chop a package of bratwurst into about 1" pieces and remove skin.  Make marble sized balls out of ground lamb, then brown them together.  Meanwhile put 2 cups millet and 6 cups cold water in a dutch oven with a tsp salt, a little pepper, a pinch of saffron threads, and a bunch of shredded kale.  Bring to boil then reduce to simmer and cover for 45 minutes.  Stir in drained meat balls and serve. 

None of us were particularly familiar with cooking or eating whole millet before but it is a pleasantly starchy and slightly sweet grain with no after taste (like quinoa).  There was none left and I might keep experimenting with this recipe like adding tomatoes an spices to make a sort of renaissance German jambalaya. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2012 at 09:55

say, karl - sorry that you did not find the biersuppe to your liking. i made the heisse biersuppe:

 
and found it to be pretty good, although it could have been a little better. after trying it, i am thinking that a lager might have been a better choice (a little less hoppy or bitter or something) - also, as you noted, it was quite thin, and this made it a little awkward to eat, but basically, i found it to be good.
 
when you get the chance, i think i speak for everyone when i say it would be great if we could see some pictures of these medieval re-creations - the next time you have one, please feel free to post about it! Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 April 2012 at 14:42
I did try this a while ago, and found it "slightly off".  I think that the selection of beer will have a lot to do with the flavour. My impression is that this is one of those recipe's that are very simple to make, but difficult to get "just right".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2012 at 10:43
hi, darko - very glad that you were able to try this, and i agree with your impression.
 
i am thinking next time, i will try a lighter (in the german context) lager, and will perhaps also try to thicken it just a bit, maybe with a roux.
 
it certainly has potential, because i loved the flavours - the beer was just a little off and it was awfully thin, something i am not used to with soups....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 April 2012 at 12:04
I think Karl hit the nail on the head, when he said it was "too beery" . What I found was that it tasted like warm, flat beer with spices added.


perhaps, this is what it is supposed to taste like, maybe, maybe not. I'm not sure if the medieval palate was the same as ours, or whether they ate stuff just for the sake of eating it, and showing off.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 August 2017 at 13:26
One of my original guinea pigs just e-mailed me looking for an(other) over-the-top medieval feast to prepare for an event and I recalled this thread.

I am wondering what they meant by "spice cakes" in the first course?  Gingerbread maybe since there was such a following for this as a digestive and treat at that time?  https://germanfoods.org/german-food-facts/guide-to-german-cookies-and-cakes/

"Germany’s world-famous Lebkuchen is a richly-spiced gingerbread made with honey, flour, sugar, eggs, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, candied orange and lemon peel, marzipan and spices like cinnamon, ginger, aniseed, cloves, pimento, coriander and cardamom. Please see recipe here.

Although gingerbread has been baked in Europe for centuries, of all the European countries, Germany is the one with the longest and strongest gingerbread tradition, especially in regards to the flat shaped gingerbreads known as Lebkuchen.

Lebkuchen were first baked in the city of Nuremberg in 1395. In 1643, Nuremberg created a Lebkuchen Baker’s Guild, which began with 14 master gingerbread bakers who were required to make the gingerbread following strict guidelines."


Townsend has several excellent gingerbread baking videos in YouTube cooking series like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaGnBm_o02k  Apparently medieval gingerbread was very secretive and enjoyed a unique claim to being a chemically leavened bread as opposed to yeast.  This along with the ginger may have made it almost medicinal or at least a palate cleanser.


I was lucky enough to stumble on an old wooden gingerbread mold of a (Polish?) king so I had to try a batch.  To my pleasant surprise, my lovely but picky wife liked it.  She even bagged some up to hide at work.  She doesn't like much so this is noteworthy.   She just bought me a stoneware sheep gingerbread mold as a hint to make more.  I have a couple cast iron molds too so maybe a big batch is called for.  Maybe I'll try pearlash or hartshorn. 

This is another possible spice cake recipe might similar to Springerle:  http://www.thespringerlebaker.com/ken_recipes.html   Since the recipe calls for hartshorn it suggests that it is very old. 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 August 2017 at 15:54
Hi, Karl -

Great post! I will read the rest of it when I have more time, but I got to thinking about the soup itself. I can't speak for everyone else who has tried it, but I know that when I made mine, I used an American beer. These seem (to me, at least) to be more aggressively hopped than most of the German beers I have tried. In fact, the German hefeweizens (which generally have spicy and fruity notes, as well), usually have very, very low bitterness, especially compared to American beers.

I am wondering if this is the difference - I have brewed a couple of German-style hefeweizens, and have tried several others; thinking about it now, I could see where they would be much "better" with the profile of this soup. I will probably test this hypothesis, the next chance I get.

I think you are spot-on with your ideas on the spice cakes, as well. It makes good sense, and goes along pretty well with what I know. I was also looking at the recipe for Andy's grandmother's Streuselkuchen:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/my-grandmothers-streuselkuchen_topic1271.html

It seems to fit right in, as well.

The idea of these gingerbread molds is pretty cool - I've heard of them but can't recall seeing them, except perhaps simple hearts. Worthy of further discussion, for sure!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 August 2017 at 18:10
Thank you for the additional spice cake recipe.  The more the better.

Not being a big beer drinker I had not thought about the modern hoppy beers vs medieval brews.  http://www.beerscenemag.com/2010/04/the-short-and-bitter-history-of-hops/  It looks like hops was just beginning to become fashionable about the time this wedding feast was being described and there were still other options around. 

The hops sort of compliments beer&cheese soups more than spiced soup. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 August 2017 at 18:26
Sorry, I missed the gingerbread mold part.  It has been a long week today.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 August 2017 at 20:44
Originally posted by Karl Karl wrote:

Sorry, I missed the gingerbread mold part.  It has been a long week today.

I've owned the same mold for 30 years.  We bake and decorate a log cabin gingerbread house (flip side of the pictured mold) every Christmas.  Nice post!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 12:23
I used this cast iron mold last Christmas to make several kits (both designs) for a DAR bake sale.  I made several extra little people from the mold for the DAR ladies to give out a samples since so many people are underwhelmed by gingerbread.  Due to this apparently none of the houses were actually assembled since the buyers just opened the bags and started eating them there.  Ermm  If I had guessed this it would have been easier to have just made gingerbread cookies. 


I would not mind finding more of these old style wooden molds.  They are a little tedious to use even if you grease them well it is tricky to peel the molded gingerbread out and keep it intact. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2017 at 12:28
Once you hang something up as a kitchen decoration it becomes invisible so I almost forgot that I picked up one of these cast iron molds too:

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