Monday, April 16, 2018

My German Mother-in-Law's Pea Soup with Wurst in Homemade Bread Bowls

What my husband likes most for a birthday celebration is no celebration at all. A Happy Birthday kiss in the morning and he is good for the entire birthday. Not me. I like celebrating over several days, sometimes weeks with friends at different venues. Cocktails and cakes, I'm all about the party.

One dish my husband misses most since living in the States is his mother's pea soup with pieces of German franks. 
Last year she made the base of it for me and I may or may not have smuggled it past customs to NYC then to our weekend house in Pennsylvania where I invited friends and neighbors to enjoy the pea soup I made from it. 

This year I'm on my own working from notes I made last year. My handwriting is awful and I wrote it half in German and half in English but I managed to cobble together a delicious enough version of her soup plus invite a few neighbors to eat it.  I insisted to my husband this was not a celebration but a sharing of soup ritual on his birthday. Because the soup was so good, almost authentic to my mother-in-law's, he shut up and slurped.

In addition to the franks, There is speck (thick cut German ham) and franks in the mix which gives the soup it's hefty and layered flavor. 

For the birthday brunch which was not a birthday brunch, I grooved up the soup presentation by serving it inside individual sized homemade loaves of bread (recipe for that below). The recipe is a simple white bread that requires minimal rise time. You can easily substitute your favorite bread recipe.  The one below makes four bread bowls. The soup serves 6-8 so double the recipes if you want to serve the soup in bread bowls. 

German Pea Soup with Wurst
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Yield: Serves 6-8

BE AWARE: You will have to soak the dried peas overnight in cold water. 


  • 1lb dried peas
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup speck
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1500 g water (6+1/2 cups)
  • 6 wurst, cut into pieces. 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Place the peas in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak overnight.
  • Peel the potatoes, cut into pieces and boil them in salted water. Mash and set aside. 
  • In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil. Add the diced onions and cook until transparent.
  • Add the speck and cook for a few minutes.
  • Stir in the leeks and the carrots and cook together, stirring frequently until the vegetable start to soften. About 10 minutes. 
  • Add peas, potatoes and the water to the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.
  • Use a hand blender to puree the soup. Alternately, transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, puree and then return the mixture to the pot.
  • Add the wurst and cook for another 10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Remove from heat and serve. 

For the bread bowls:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1+1/2 packets active dried yeast
  • 2+1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar.
  • Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast.
  • Add the water on top of the yeast. When the yeast starts to bubble, use the dough hook of the mixer to knead the ingredients into a smooth dough.
  • Sprinkle the dough mass with flour, place in a bowl, cover with a dishcloth and stow in a warm place for 40 minutes
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes.
  • Divide the dough into four equal pieces (use a kitchen scale if you have one).
  • Shape the pieces into rounds and place them on the baking sheet.
  • Stow in a warm place for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place the bread in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for another 25 minutes, until the loaves turn golden brown. 
  • Remove from the oven and transfer the loaves of bread to a wire rack to cool.
  • Use a serrated knife to slice the tops off of the bread. Pull out the soft centers and discard or save to repurpose into bread crumbs or for another recipe.
  • Fill the bread with soup and serve. 

Here are some spring soup recipes to try:

Radish Mint Soup

Tomato Vodka Soup

Creamy Carrot Honey Soup

Creamy Potato Spring Vegetable Soup with Sunflower Seed Pesto Croutons

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