Even though I consider stewed lentils with spaetzle (‘Linsen
The thing that makes it stand out is the unusual combination of two starches: Spaetzle and potatoes. For Germans, it’s usually either one or the other.
I mean, how many people do you know that combine noodles with potatoes? In this soup, however, they complement each other in perfect harmony.
This recipe was one of the first ones that I have published on my blog. The pictures were still in the old landscape format and didn’t look very appealing. It was obvious that this outstanding dish needed a revision.
I didn’t just change the picture but also modified the recipe slightly to make it even better. I doubled the amount of meat and added three marrow bones to the broth to make it more intense and a little richer. I also now specify to use celeriac rather than celery stalks but that is really up to you which one you prefer. Instead of caramelized onions, I top my beef spaetzle soup now with fried onions. That’s also a personal choice that is up to your preference. In German restaurants, fried onions are more common than caramelized ones because they are easier and much quicker to prepare.
How to cook the broth for beef spaetzle soup
Every great soup starts with an aromatic broth. For this recipe, you don’t need to have any premade broth on hand. In fact, you will cook a light broth yourself with boiling beef and marrow bones that will later be cut up and served inside the soup.
The aromatics used to complement the beef flavor are onions, garlic, herbs, black peppercorns, and clove. Just throw all of these ingredients in your stockpot, fill it up with water, and let it cook for 2 hours until the beef is tender. If you own a pressure cooker, I recommend you to use it to cook the broth. It just takes 30 minutes to get the beef tender that way.
The vegetables commonly used for this soup are carrots, celeriac (or celery stalks), and potatoes. They are cooked inside the broth. I don’t add them at the beginning because I don’t like them to be mushy and tasteless. I prefer to use waxy potatoes because I like them to have a firm bite. If you prefer your potatoes on the softer side, I recommend using starchy potatoes instead.
The finished soup is seasoned with white wine vinegar, nutmeg, and salt. That’s a basic seasoning that I use for almost all of my broths. The vinegar brightens up the flavor and the nutmeg gives warmth. Don’t be shy when seasoning with salt. The potatoes and root vegetables will soak up a lot of it so you can be generous.
There are two add-ins you will need to prepare while the broth is simmering.
Just take a look at my spaetzle recipe to learn how to make them yourself. There will be plenty of time to prepare a batch in between. Or, in case you’re feeling lazy, you might want to substitute them with store-bought ones.
Fried or caramelized onions
The first version of this recipe stated to prepare caramelized onions. They are easy to make but can take a lot of time. You simply heat plenty of butter over medium-low heat in a large pot or saute pan and add your onion slices. You need to keep stirring them from time to time and wait until they turn golden brown. The onions will taste very sweet that way but they are mushy (which doesn’t matter that much because you will use them as a soup topping).
Fried onions, on the other hand, can be prepared in less than 10 minutes. You need to lightly dust the onion slices with flour before dumping them into the hot fat. Clarified butter will yield the best taste but neutral vegetable oil will also do the job. You need to be very careful not to burn the onions. A light golden brown color is enough. They turn from sweet to bitter in a matter of seconds once their moisture has been expelled. A lot of restaurants here in Germany are notorious for burning their fried onions (probably because the cook doesn’t have time to stay next to the frier all the time).
Fried or caramelized onions are the most common condiment in Swabian cuisine. They are prominently used to top cheese spaetzle and roast beef with onions. There’s hardly any dish that isn’t improved by some sweet onions on top. It’s the flavor base of Southern German cuisine.
Assembling the beef spaetzle soup
So, you’ve made a batch of spaetzle, caramelized or fried some onions, and your soup is piping hot? Then it’s time to serve.
Divide the spaetzle among individual soup bowls. You will only need two servings of spaetzle for four people because the soup also contains potatoes and root vegetables. Ladle the hot soup on top and garnish with some fried or caramelized onions and fresh curly parsley leaves.
And don’t shy away from getting a second serving, because Gaisburger Marsch honestly tastes that good!
Beef Spätzle Soup (‘Gaisburger Marsch’)
For the broth:
- 1 large yellow onion, halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove
- 20 ounces (570 g) boiling beef (preferably on the bone, I prefer short ribs or beef shank)
- 3 marrow bones, about 10 ounces (285 g)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 5 sprigs curly parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups water
For the soup:
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- white wine vinegar, to taste
- freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- salt, to taste
For the fried onions:
- 2 medium-sized yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup clarified butter or canola oil
- salt, to taste
- 2 servings spaetzle
- a handful of curly parsley leaves
Prepare the broth:
- Stud one onion half with the bay leaf and clove.
- In a pressure cooker or large pot, add the onion halves, beef, bones, garlic, herbs, pepper, sugar, and salt. Add about 6 cups of water so that the broth ingredients are fully submerged. If using a pressure cooker, cook the broth on the high-pressure setting for 30 minutes and let the pressure release naturally afterward. If using a regular stockpot, simmer the broth on the lowest possible heat for 2 hours or until the beef is fall-off-the-bone tender. During simmering, skim any impurities that might rise to the top. Once the broth is ready, take out the beef and strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
Cook the vegetables:
- Add the carrots, celeriac, and potatoes to the strained broth and simmer them over low heat for about 15 minutes or until tender to your liking. In the meantime, cut the beef into bite-sized pieces once it is cool enough to handle. Add the beef back into the pot. Season the broth with vinegar, nutmeg, and salt to taste.
Prepare the fried onions:
- Dust the onion slices with the flour and mix well. Heat the clarified butter or canola oil in a large saute pan to around 320 °F (160 °C) and add in your onion slices (work in batches and don’t overcrowd your pan!). Let the onions turn lightly golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Don’t fry them so they become too dark or else they will turn bitter instead of sweet. Drain the fried onions on a paper towel and season them lightly with salt.
Assemble and serve the soup:
- Assemble your soup bowls by placing a handful of spaetzle on the bottom of each bowl. Pour the hot soup over the spaetzle. Garnish with the fried onions as well as some roughly chopped curly parsley leaves.
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