German Potato Soup


  • 1/2 large or 1 whole celeriac (celery root)
  • 1 turnip
  • 1 rutabaga
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 leek
  • 3 small/medium yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 small scoop of sauerkraut
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 medium brown bag filled with common mushrooms - crimini or white
  • lots of butter
  • alcohol of some kind
  • pickle juice(s)
  • apple cider vinegar
  • dijon mustard
  • lemon pepper


In a large stock pot, melt an entire stick of butter slowly over medium as you chop the alliums.

Onion- rough, lengthwise

Shallot- medium dice

Leek- quarter inch circles (white part). Reserve the green top part. 

Drop the onion/shallot in as soon as the butter can cover the bottom of the stock pot. Shake. Cover. 

Slice the celeriac into short-cigarette size rectangular pieces. Add them to the pot. Shake. Add a generous plop of dijon mustard the pot. The aromatics of the mustard will immediately be released and infuse the rest of the food- cover swiftly to trap them. 

Cook for approximately 5 minutes on medium, stirring three or four times to ensure even cooking. Halfway through, add the leeks. Shake. 

While this operation is happening, chop the turnip and the swede (rutabaga) into large yet thinnish pieces. Add them to a large mixing bowl filled with water. Shake salt in and mix around with your hand. The water will draw out of some of the less pleasant flavors from these guys and soften the fibers of the vegetables. 

Chop the potatoes however you want. 

When it looks like alliums are translucent and delicious, turn the heat up to high and remove the cover. They will start the sizzle/brown a bit. At the right moment, push aside the food and find the browning spots on the base of the pot. Deglaze with your alcohol of choice (white wine, dry vermouth, fine beer, or whiskey would be best), vigorously scrubbing with the wooden spoon to release the browned flavor bits. Return to medium heat.

Add a hefty splash of pickle juice, preferably from a few kinds of pickles. Add a dash of apple cider vinegar as well. Then, add the potatoes and scoop of saurkraut, and cover again. 

Around this time- prep garlic bulb for roasting. Get out a baking dish.Take off the tops/papery skin. Melt half a stick of butter. Cover top of garlic with sea slat, then pour over butter. Roughly tear with your hands the green leek tops. Toss with the butter. Salt and pepper these. Start to bake at 350. 

Prepare a tasty broth in a mixing bowl- mix bouillon with warm water (apx. 4 cups), taste it. Add powdered garlic, onions, whatever might make it taste good on its own. Add the broth along with the drained turnips and swedes to the pot. Mix well. Add lemon pepper (could make your own by saving dried lemon zest/cracking black pepper) Cover, and turn up to high till it starts to boil. Stir actively, reduce to low. 

Let simmer for an hour. Keep an eye on the roasting garlic/leeks. You want them to brown lightly and crisp. Moving them around in the dish will help. 

Also heat crusty bread of some kind- prepare it like garlic bread- whatever sounds good. To really go big, serve with a salty crumbly cheese and a smooth, complex cheese. 

15 minutes before you intend to eat, slice the mushrooms and sauté in butter (best in a cast iron) until crisped up and chestnut brown. Don't crowd the mushrooms! You might need to do 3 pans worth for each round to have enough space. As you finish each round, drop them atop the soup and cover again. If there is pan residue, deglaze again with alcohol and tip into the soup. 

When all is ready, do a final stir up, season-to-taste (really, you shouldn't need to salt or anything), and bring the soup up the temp if it has cooled too much. 

Make a fine paste from the roasted garlic. Stir a spot of roasted garlic paste into each bowl of the soup right before serving. Top with the crispy leek tops. 

Recipe by Andrew Barton. Photo by Peter Schweitzer.  For more work like this click here or here