A couple of days ago, I received a postcard from a friend in Munich, “The Oktoberfest has started!!! Cheers!” he wrote. I try not to think about all the beer, all the sausages, the sauerkraut and the potatoes – it’s way to painful. But I cannot stop thinking. As a matter of fact, sausages, beer, sauerkraut and potatoes are the only things I can think about at the moment, and I embark onto a mental exercise of figuring out all possible ways they can be combined in a single dish. Caramelized sauerkraut with potatoes, sausages and beer. Choucroute with beer instead of wine. Sauerkraut salad, perhaps? Beer stew. Or even better, a soup. And because the soup is so comforting, here it is, Oktoberfest Soup for all of us wounded souls missing the action in Munich.
* 16 oz bratwurst (or any other fresh pork sausage, without paprika in it), cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
* 1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin ribs
* 6 oz sauerkraut
* 2 russet potatoes (about 18-20 oz), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 8 cups chicken broth
* 1 large garlic clove, minced
* 2 cups lager beer (I used Kingfisher Premium Lager)
* 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
* 3 tbsp chopped parsley
* 3 tbsp sunflower oil
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a small pot, warm up the chicken broth and keep at simmer.
2. Heat one tablespoon of the sunflower oil in a Dutch oven or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the sausage slices and brown nicely on both sides.
3. Remove the sausage from the casserole. Discard all the fat and deglaze the casserole. (Discard the deglazing liquid or keep it for different use.) Heat two tablespoons of the sunflower oil, add the onion and cook until soft and lightly caramelized, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until fragrant. Add the sauerkraut and the caraway seeds and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Increase the heat to medium high, add in the beer and simmer for about a minute. Add in the potatoes, sausage and broth and bring the soup to the boil. Once the soup comes to the boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid half way through, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
5. Season the soup with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls, sprinkle generously with parsley, and serve. And do not forget the pretzel.
p.s. This post is dedicated to Mr. Stan, the greatest beer lover of all times. Cheers to you dad!