Marisa Renwald: Holy Thursday meals are unique with tradition
Marisa Renwald March 26, 2012 2:34PM
Updated: April 29, 2012 8:05AM
Easter time in Germany is served to Deutschlanders and tourists alike with a mix of solemn veneration and a childhood chocolate fantasy.
During Holy Week, the days leading up to Easter Sunday, the little shops that line the cobblestone walkways of Heidelberg, Dresden and Cologne are dolled up like candy baskets.
Ribbons and trinkets of pretty pastels dangle from doorways and windows, while milk chocolate bunnies with sugar button eyes, posed so playfully in fields of plastic grass, jelly beans and cream-filled eggs, peer out with ambrosial seduction from the chocolate makers’ front windows.
Springtime arrives early in the Fatherland, bringing with it the bold colors and fragrance of Germany’s finest tulips.
April showers spray café patios with scattered raindrops, but al fresco diners brave the weather to pick at a light lunch. A chewy Bavarian pretzel may be on the menu, or perhaps it is a powdered-sugar dusted waffle — rarely anything more, for although the streets bespeak a holiday celebration, it is a forthcoming one. Holy Week is observed with mild devotion and the menus attest to the sanctity.
Holy Thursday meals have an especially unique tradition to them.
Keeping up with the namesake, Gründonnerstag — or “Green Thursday”— dinner foods are, indeed, green. Spring’s finest herbs and vegetables are pureed into soups and sauces that usually float halves of hard-boiled eggs. The flavors are simple and fresh, so very contrary to all of the pizzazz and frills of the Easter decorations.
But that doesn’t mean these dishes are any less enticing. The Germans’ recipe for chervil soup is a delicious meat-abstaining first course for Lent, but it will certainly be an excellent addition to any springtime meal.
Chervil, a parsley-like herb, gives this soup its mossy hue and its slight anise flavor. Chervil is a fresh, mild herb that marries well to any other ingredient it works with. However, it doesn’t do half-bad in a starring role.
This recipe for chervil soup is rich with cream and thick with egg yolks. Served with sliced hard-boiled eggs, it is robust enough to serve as a main course. If chervil can’t be found at the grocery store, try substituting a combination of parsley and tarragon, which has a slightly similar flavor to chervil.
4 hard boiled eggs
2 bunches fresh chervil, washed and patted dry
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
13/4 cups chicken stock
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pinch sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 egg yolks, beaten
Remove stems (but reserve) from chervil and chop finely. Lightly fry the green onions in the butter over medium heat, add the broth, cream and creme fraiche or sour cream. Allow to come to the boil briefly and then turn down heat slightly. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and lemon juice. Add the chopped chervil and keep warm without allowing the soup to boil.
Whisk in the egg yolks into the slightly cooled soup, being careful not to scramble the eggs. Allow to cool and then puree in blender in batches.
Pour the soup into individual dishes to serve. Slice the hard boiled eggs and place them in the center of the soup. Sprinkle remaining chervil stems over the soup and serve.
Source: Adapted from “Kerbelsuppe,” Germanfoods.org