Monday, February 09, 2015

North German Soup: Schnüsch

Photo added January 22, 2017

"Schnüsch" is a soup from the "Angelland" region of Schleswig, one of the parts of the modern German state of "Schleswig-Holstein," but the making of this soup has now spread beyond its place of origin, including into nearby Denmark. "Angelland" simply means "Land of the Angles," and the Angles migrated, along with other Germanic tribal elements, especially many Saxons, to Britain, where they founded "England," the contracted English form, meaning, "Land of the Angles." There are various versions of this soup, but the one here is what I make, and it is a creamy vegetable soup, but with the addition of herring, a common fish of the north, where the Baltic Sea and the North Sea provide the source of this fish. The ham used in the northern region of Germany for this dish is  "Katenschinken," a style of ham from that general area, where the ham is salt cured and then cold smoked, before going through a drying process of many months. Since you aren't likely to have some Katenschinken stored away somewhere, you can use any kind of ham and I guarantee Beethoven's ghost won't visit you ... well, I pretty much guarantee that. Of course, if you hear the repeated sound of, "DOT DOT DOT DASH," it might be a good idea to see if you can get a hold of some Katenschinken for the next time you make this soup.

Schnüsch (North German Creamy Vegetable Soup)
For about 6 servings:

2 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons of flour 
8 oz. sliced carrots (fresh or frozen)
8 oz. peas (frozen are great, canned not so much, because they are softened)
8 oz. green beans (frozen are great)
2 to 3 medium to large potatoes, cut into about quarter inch slices
1/2 cup ham, small cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups milk 
pickled herring

Saute bacon until most fat is rendered, add 2 tablespoons butter (melt) to the bacon fat, stir in 6 tablespoons of  flour and cook for a minute or two to make a roux, but don't let the roux brown too much (I like this very thick, but you can use less butter and flour for a thinner soup). Meanwhile, in a separate pan, boil the potato and carrot slices until softened, but not falling apart. (Back to the roux) Add milk, a little at a time, stirring to avoid sticking, until all milk is incorporated and the liquid is somewhat thickened, add the sugar and salt and stir to mix in and dissolve. Stir in the peas and green beans, neither of which needs to cook a long time. Drain the potatoes and carrots (you can save some of the liquid, in case you want to thin the soup, or you can use more milk to do so), add to the soup and stir; likewise with the ham cubes. Add some parsley. Prior to serving, stir in some small pieces of pickled herring, giving the soup a minute to heat the herring, or you can just put the herring pieces on top of each serving. Many Germans serve the herring on the side.

NOTE: While the above recipe is my own adaptation, it is heavily based on the recipe in: "The Cuisines of Germany," by Horst Scharfenberg, Poseidon Press, New York, 1980.  

I put the herring pieces on top for this photo.
Herring-The ultimate origins of this word for a common fish are uncertain, but West Germanic, a branch of Old Germanic,^ had "heringaz," which was used for the fish name. This gave Old English (Anglo-Saxon) "haering," which then became "hering," before the second "r" was added to give us the modern form. The Old Germanic form "might" be from the the color of the fish, and thus from Old Germanic "(k)hairaz," which meant "gray/grey." ^^ Forms in the other West Germanic languages, all used for the fish name, are: German "Hering," Low German Saxon "heren," West Frisian "hjerring," Dutch "haring."
^ English, German, Dutch, and West Frisian are all West Germanic, while Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Swedish are all from the North Germanic branch of Old Germanic. The East Germanic branch languages, like Gothic and Burgundian, died out. 

^^ If "herring" does come from Germanic "(k)hairaz," it would be a relative of English "hoar" and German "Herr," the word for "mister," but also meaning "sir," "gentleman," "master," "lord." For more: 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

never heared of it, but I like soup & it sound good

11:29 AM  

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