“liver droplet soup”
Broth is one of the most ubiquitous and most versatile soups in Bavarian cuisine. Go to a Wirtshaus and there’ll always be some Rinderkraftbrühe or Klare Brühe on the menu, I promise. In terms of beefing up the broth, there’s a million different add-ins, differing by region, season, occasion, and the cook’s Lust und Laune. In German there’s actually a term for all those things you can add to a broth: Suppeneinlage.
As children, for my brother and I, my mum would often serve up broth with pancake strips for lunch, Flädlesuppn, or add some alphabet pasta and Backerbsen („soup pearls“) to the broth. One of my favourites has become Leberspätzlesuppn, a more hearty tasting yet light addition made from a mix of liver, parsley, flour and bread crumbs.
The broth obviously is key in any of those brothy soups. Sure, you can always just whip up some broth cubes in hot water. But seriously, why go through the excitement of making delicious Suppeneinlage and then have them swim in a sad pool of prefab broth?
A few years ago, my Norwegian friend gave me a life-changing tip. She is vegetarian and so is her sister. She told me her sister didn’t throw out veggie scraps but rather collected them in the freezer until she had enough to make 2-3 litres of veggie stock. Ever since, I’ve been an avid follower of that custom. My friends quite enjoy making for of me for that: „You don’t even throw out your carrot peel, how could you throw out…?“ But it’s just so easy, so delicious and I never liked buying those sad soup vegetable bundles with semi-dried up pieces of celeriac, leek and carrot.
It’s not all veggie scraps that are good for broth making, but most. Skip those starchy things like potato and sweet potato peel or anything you can’t quite scrub clean. Scraps that I collect mostly include: fennel (tops, stalk, sightly wilted outer bulb parts), asparagus (stalks and white asparagus peel), carrot / parsnip / celeriac peel and tops and tails, slightly wilted or leftover broccoli and cauliflower rosettes, herbs,… The broth will never quite taste the same as last time, so it’s always fun to try and taste what veggies you’ve had in the past few weeks that ended up in the broth.
Once I collected three small ziploc bags full, I heat up our large cast-iron pot (it holds maybe 5 litres), add a glut of olive oil and fry up a roughly chopped onion and some garlic until they get golden brown. Then I just dump in the veggies, add 2-3 litres of water and any spice and herbs I feel like. Usually suspects are juniper berries, black / white / red pepper corns, mustard seeds, coriander. Bay leave is a great flavour maker but can be quite overpowering so I usually just add it to the broth when I’m heating it up for serving.
I bring it to a boil and then turn it down to the lowest setting and let it simmer for at least an hour. I really like having tiny bits of the veggies in the stock, so I’ll mash up any decently solid parts when straining the broth. I’ll usually make the broth because the freezer is full of scraps and not because I feel like broth, so I always have some 1l milk bottles on hand to store the broth in. I’ve had it keep for 2 weeks if bottled hot, but I’ve never tried pushing that limit. Worst case, I’ll have a warming cup of hot broth to use it up.
Now let’s get down to business. If you have the right equipment, making Leberspätzle is a piece of cake – it took me maybe 20 minutes, if even. I was super excited to get full use out of my kitchen aid: shredding, whipping, mixing, grinding.
¼ white onion
40 g butter (soft but not runny)
30 g bread crumbs (I made mine from bone dry breakfast buns)
50 g flour
100 g liver (any type is fine, very finely ground or chopped)
1 table spoon finely chopped parsley
salt + pepper
½ skin of an organic lemon
good pinch of dried marjoram
Chop the onion really finely. It will go in the dough, so if the chunks are too large, the Spätzle won’t be as fine as they should be. Then lightly fry them in the olive oil until translucent.
Beat the butter in a mixer until it’s starting to get fluffy. It helps having it actually warm and soft before beating, but it’s not crucial. You’ll just have to mix a little more diligently. Worst case just don’t beat it fully fluffy before adding the egg. The original recipe says to add the yolks first, because then it mixes better. But if you’re feeling lazy like I was, don’t bother as the whites are added just a minute later. At this point, you basically just mix all the ingredients together and season.
Now is where having a Bavarian equipped kitchen comes in handy, namely having a Spätzlehobel. This is a device that looks a bit like a dull grinder plane with a little box on top. You place the Spätzlehobel over a pot with hot salt water, fill the dough – for a single recipe start with half the Spätzle dough – into the box and then move it back an forth so the dough can form droplets and drip into the hot water in the pot. If you don’t have such a magic apparatus, there is another way, I have just never tried it.
Once the Spätzle start rising to the top bring to a short boil (maybe 1 minute), fish out the Spätzle with a skimmer or drain them through a sieve and serve in the hot broth. Sprinkling each plate with some chives and Backerbsen is highly recommended!