Thursday, November 8, 2012

Beer Soup & Wine Soup, German Army, 1887

Beer Soup and Wine Soup, German Army, 1887

     Published in 1887, it may not be too much of a stretch to imagine that these recipes, or something similar, would have survived into the First World War. And why not? The beer soup was a great way for a soldier to use up that portion of his beer ration that had gone bad while out in the field, which the author noted was an occurrence that happened all too often. Heating the beer would make an otherwise indigestible brew drinkable. It was, however, not recommended to use fresh beer - much better to drink it up before it does get stale!
     Both of these recipes are quite simple. Although the wine soup recipe was scaled for one serving, a half liter of wine and 2-3 eggs seems a bit much for modern times. It is recommended to halve the recipe or invite a friend over to participate in your historical re-creation. I tried the wine soup, without the egg yolk, and found it to be surprisingly good. I intend to test the beer soup soon, and post the results.
     These recipes come from Des Soldaten Kochbuchlein (The Soldiers Cook Booklet). 

Beer Soup, German Army, 1887
Yield: 1 serving

US                                           Metric                          Ingredients
17 fl oz                                     500 ml                         beer
5.5 oz                                       150 g                           dark rye bread*
to taste                                      to taste                        sugar
to taste                                      to taste                        whole caraway**

1.      Crumble the bread into small pieces.
2.      Put the bread pieces into the beer.
3.      Add sugar to taste and add a few cumin seeds.
4.      Heat the beer to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the bread has dissolved.

* German Army bread was a heavy, dense dark rye bread made with 100% rye flour. Please refer to my earlier blog on "Brot backen im Kochgeschirr", Bread Baked in Mess Kit, for a suitable substitute.

**Please note that whole cumin was previously listed as an ingredient, but should have been whole caraway. I apologize for the error.

Wine Soup, German Army, 1887
Yield: 1 serving

US                                          Metric                          Ingredients
17 fl oz                                    500 ml                         water
17 fl oz                                    500 ml                         white wine
to taste                                    to taste                         sugar*
small strip                                small strip                     lemon peel
½ fl oz/1 tbsp                          15 ml                            wheat flour
8.5 fl oz                                   250 ml                         cold milk or water

*I recommend 1-2 fl oz/2-4 tbsp/20-60 ml sugar, adjusted to take into account the sweetness or dryness of the wine that you are using.

1.      Mix together the water, white wine, sugar and lemon peel.
2.      Bring to a simmer over medium heat, but do not let it boil.
3.      Meanwhile, combine the flour and milk or water and mix well until there are no lumps of flour.
4.      Slowly pour the flour and milk mixture into the wine. Bring to a boil while constantly whisking.
5.      Remove from the heat.

US                                           Metric                         Ingredients
2 or 3                                      2 or 3                           egg yolks
pinch                                       pinch                             wheat flour
3-4 tbsp                                  45-60 ml                       cold water

1.      If adding eggs, leave the soup over low heat.
2.      Mix the egg yolks with the cold water and flour.
3.      Temper the eggs by adding several spoonfuls of the boiling soup, one spoonful at a time, and stirring well after each addition.
4.      Once the egg mixture is warm, pour it into the soup and stir well while adding. Do not allow the soup to boil, as this will cause the eggs to curdle. 
5.      Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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