In Germany "Maundy Thursday", the Thursday before Easter, is Gründonnerstag, literally "Green Thursday". Celebrated since the 13th century when it had no connection to "green", but came from an old German word "greinen", meaning to groan, mourn or weep; as the day commemorated the Last Supper and the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.
There is a custom based on an old superstition that greens eaten on Gründonnerstag, which is still during Lent or Fastenzeit, give protection for the rest of the year, so in many households recipes with "green" food, such as green vegetables: spinach, beans, broccoli, leeks, kale...plus chives and other herbs, even dandelions and daisies, make up meals for the day, and one of the most popular is:
Grüne Bohnensuppe, Green Bean Soup
(A family recipe given me by my late mother-in-law, who used to cook it for me as a special treat)
Ingredients: Serves 4
1 lb Fresh or Frozen green beans
8 oz smoked bacon, or smoked sausage, cut into dice (this can be left out during Lent, Fastenzeit)
3 medium onions
3 Potatoes diced
0.75 liter/3.1/2 pints chicken or vegetable broth
30 gr/1 ounce butter
1 bay leaf
Tsp dried savory or mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
If using fresh beans wash, trim and cut into half inch pieces
Chop the onions and the white and pale green parts of the leek finely
Cut the carrots into fine dice
Lightly fry the bacon or sausage, add the onions and carrot and cook until turning soft
Add the broth
If using fresh beans add these now, together with leek, bay leaf, cloves and savory or herbs
Season with salt and pepper
Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes
If using frozen beans it is best if they are no more than an inch in length and add together with finely diced potato to simmering mixture after 10 minutes, bring back to boil, stir through and return to simmer for further 10 minutes until beans are cooked through
Add additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
This soup is delicious at any time of the year and, if not destined for a Lent or Maundy Thursday meal, lightly smoked sliced pork loin, smoked sausage or chicken breast can be cooked whole in the broth and cut into pieces before serving.
Sieben-Kräute Suppe, "Seven Herb Soup" is another soup that is popular not only during Fastenzeit but also on Green Thursday, and is basically a vegetable broth to which finely chopped onions and potatoes, first been cooked in butter until soft, are added, then, when thoroughly cooked, a mixture of any seven finely chopped fresh spring herbs are included, stirring until well combined.
Seven Herb Soup in keeping with the seven last phrases attributed to Jesus as he hung on the cross, so is traditionally made from seven different green herbs. Although in Germany's Pagan days it would have been Nine Herb Soup, as for Pagans nine was a magical number.
The herbs could be: Dill, Chives (with flowers), Parsley, Tarragon, Sorrel, Chervil, Lemon Balm, Cress or Salad Burnett for example, and even Daisy and Dandelion leaves are used.
Seasoned with a pinch of sugar, salt and some freshly ground black pepper, the soup can be served "as is" or pureed.
With all those cooked eggs around, and herbs left over from Maundy Thursday, an "end of Lent" meal on Easter Sunday often includes Frankfurter Grüne Soße mit Eiern, "Eggs with Frankfurter Green Sauce". It is a fresh herb sauce that, as after a fast the taste buds and also sense of smell are more sensitive, served with the season's new crop of potatoes it is an ideal addition to the menu.
Frankfurter Grüne Soße mit Eiern, Eggs with Frankfurter Green Sauce
Ingredients: Serves 8 as a sauce
Seven Different Spring Herbs:
Dill, Chives, Parsley, Tarragon, Sorrel, Chervil, Lemon Balm, Cress and Salad Burnett for example, in total roughly a handful of each but in whatever proportion or quantity you wish. Some prefer a lion's share of chives.
(In Germany there is a simple packet of herb mixture, which of course makes life very easy but it is really nothing like as tasty as when made with fresh herbs.)
It doesn't matter which herbs you choose but, in keeping with the seven last phrases attributed to Jesus as he hung on the cross, there should be seven.
2 finely chopped scallions
1 finely chopped pickled gherkin
8 hard boiled eggs
4 cups creme fraiche
1 cup whole cream
1 cup buttermilk or yoghurt
1 cup mayonnaise
1.1/2 to 2 Tablespoons medium sharp not sweet mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Wash and dry herbs, cut away any hard pieces.
Chop up finely, using knife not a machine as this would liquidize the herbs
Mash four of the eggs
Mix together the creams, buttermilk or yoghurt, mayonnaise and mustard
Add mashed eggs and blend until smooth
Add scallions and gherkin and combine
Add chopped herb mixture and stir sauce until all ingredients are thoroughly distributed
Mash the four remaining eggs and stir through mixture
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Leave sauce covered in cold place for flavors to mingle and develop for at least three hours.
Serve with boiled eggs and new potatoes.
The basic sauce is not kept only for Easter Sunday but served throughout the spring and summer, when it is accompanied by halved boiled eggs as in the photo, potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, fish, cold or warm meats, salad. In fact just about anything.
Guten Appetit!.....And enjoy your "Green Meals" even when it isn't "Green Thursday"
IMAGES Broccoli - Sueddeutsche.de, Herbs - Mutter Centrum, Seven Herb Sauce - Lecker.de
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