A comprehensive main course requires a light but enticing starter, something that wakes up the taste buds and prepares your for the things to come, without taking away too much tummy space This little number is that perfect starter: a light consommé, enhanced by the addition of thin strips of savoury crêpes. This soup is a favourite with kids, especially under its child-friendly name ‘pancake soup’.
In my dialect, ‘Flädlesuppe’ simply means ‘flat cake strip soup’, which is why I decided to rebrand it using the French ‘consommé’ with ‘crêpes’ for some additional flair and sophistication. Whatever the name, it’s an amazingly delicious soup which you can find all over southern Germany, and Austria, as well as in Switzerland and northern Italy, where it is called ‘Brodo con tagliolini di crespelle’. Are you feeling like you’re missing out on something yet?
The clear beef stock forms the basis of many of our soups – we add pancake strips, Spätzle, Maultaschen or semolina dumplings, for example – but we also use it to add flavour to a range of other dishes, such as potato salad. What gives the stock its wonderful taste is the bone marrow: I often use shin on bone, but ask your butcher what they have on offer. As for the vegetables, feel free to play around with what you have. If you have a slow cooker or a pressure cooker you are in the luck, as they are particularly well-suited to the task. Obviously, by replacing the beef stock with vegetable stock and frying the pancakes in vegetable oil you can have a delicious vegetarian starter!
For a traditional German Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, this would be followed by a roast goose with all the trimmings – check it out on Eating Wiesbaden. And don’t forget to keep some of the stock as you will need it for tomorrow’s dinner: on Christmas Eve we’ll be having sausages and potato salad.
Consommé – Beef Stock (makes ca. 3 litre)
- 1kg beef and bones, half and half (brisket or shin on bones)
- 2 onions, quartered
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 celeriac, cut into cubes
- 1 leek, in thick slices
- 1 parsnip, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 tbs powdered stock
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- salt, peppercorns, nutmeg, to taste
Place the meat and bones into a large casserole and cover them with cold water. Bring to boil, then remove the rising foamy stuff with a sieve or similar: it’s the protein from the meat which will give your stock a dull colour if you leave it in.Here I used beef brisket and separate bones, but take what you can get. Add the vegetables and remaining ingredients and simmer for 2-3 hours (30 minutes if you are using a pressure cooker). Leave it to cool a little before pouring it through a sieve to remove any bits and pieces. Keep some of the meet and any bone marrow to add to your soup when you serve it. When the stock has cooled down, the fat will solidify at the top, making it easy for you to remove it. Clear beef stock can be frozen easily in portions, 250ml or 500ml, to add to risottos or as a basis for soup.
Flädle – Savoury Crêpes
- 2 eggs
- 100g flour
- 200ml milk
- 1/4 bunch of herbs, parsley, chives, chervil, finely chopped
- salt, pepper
- freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
- a bit of streaky bacon, to grease the frying pan
Whisk the eggs, flour and milk with an electric mixer until you have a smooth batter the consistency of single cream. Add the chopped herbs and season with salt. Heat a large frying pan and grease it using the bacon. Ladle a little batter into the pad and spread it out evenly by swirling the pan around. Fry until golden brown, then flip and fry the other side. Set aside and repeat until you have used up all the batter. Roll up the pancakes and cut them into thin slices. To serve, place the pancake strips and finely cut chives into individual soup bowls, add the heated consommé and enjoy.