10 yummy German soups

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Pumpkin soup

While not indigenous to Germany, pumpkin soup is practically on every menu in German restaurants in the fall. Healthy and wholesome, it's also filling; plus, its bright orange color is a great booster to survive long stretches of grey skies.

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Flädle soup

"Flädle" soup can primarily be found in southern Germany, particularly in Bavaria. Influenced by Tyrolean cuisine of neighboring Austria, it is a simple soup made of broth and strips of pancakes, so it's a good way of using breakfast left-overs! For flavoring, add chives, leeks, laurel leaves, parsley, salt and pepper, of course, any other spices you fancy.

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Bavarian Griessknödel soup

Staying in Bavaria, Bavarian Griessknödel or Griessnockerl soup will warm you up. Much like the Flädle soup, it has a vegetable or meat broth base, often combined with milk, eggs, butter and nutmeg, bits of carrots and chives or onions. Other variants see the dumplings served in a spinach or fish soup. Since it's a "cozy," filling soup, it's often given to people or kids who are sick with the flu.

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Bavarian beer soup

What would Bavaria be without beer? The region even lets its most famous beverage flow into a soup. You braise a diced onion in butter, lightly toast bread crumbs and combine with the base, then deglaze with meat broth, simmer, add beer, salt and pepper, simmer again, then serve topped with chives or slices of onion. Yum!

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Pea soup

Moving to the North, to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, you'll find a regional classic: pea soup! While the color may turn some people off, it's a great way to warm up in a chilly season. It's also standard fare during Carnival festivities in February/March – usually made with bits of sausage and served with a bread roll, it's served at outdoor stands throughout celebrating cities.

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

North German fish soup

According to the German Soup Institute, the northern German city of Hamburg is something of a "soup capital." Since it's also Germany's largest port, it's no wonder that fish soup is top on the region's list. Of course, "fish" is a loose term, so the soup could include everything from shrimp and mussels, to tilapia and ocean perch. The area is also known for its eel, oxtail and plum/cherry soups.

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Potato soup

Moving to the East, Berlin boasts potato soup on numerous menus, only here, it's more of a stew. It's also become a classic the world over. Berlin and the neighboring region of Brandenburg also serve up barley soup, smoked meat soup with syrup and plums, as well as crawfish soup with asparagus tips.

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Goulash soup

While originally Hungarian and known to many as "beef goulash" – a meat sauce dish served with noodles or potatoes – in Germany, you'll also find this classic turned into a soup on nearly every menu across the country during the colder months.

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Wild garlic soup

Some may shudder at the notion of wild garlic soup, but it's infinitely delicious. Its fresh and fragrant leaves and flowers, and not its bulbs, give the soup its flavor. And, its earthy green color makes you feel you're injecting your body with something healthy. And you are! Studies suggest that garlic may help protect against certain forms of cancer.

10 soups to warm up a cold, damp season

Asparagus cream soup

Germans will always find a way to integrate asparagus into their diet. Though late spring gives birth to aromatic white asparagus straight from the field (it's sold at street-side stands), some people are known to crack open a jarred variant to make the cream soup in the fall since they just can't wait for the fresh season. A bit of baguette is the right accompaniment to its delicate flavor.

The Germans know that one of the best comfort foods for a frosty evening is a steaming bowl of soup. Discover some regional specialties right here.

The sunlight glistens on red and yellow leaves as they dance down and settle on the ground. Temperatures cool, daylight shortens, and everything turns inwards — hunkering down for the chilly season ahead. 

Read more: 11 sure signs autumn has arrived in Germany

The body and soul long for some comfort, and soup is undeniably a good bedfellow. Healthy, hearty and easier to digest than heavier fare, soup simply feels good for you with each spoonful that goes into your body. And the autumn harvest offers some of the perfect ingredients — such as pumpkin, beans, mushrooms, onions, potatoes and apples — for delicious soups. 

Germans, for their part, know how to make the most of that harvest. And they just love their soup! Indeed, according to the German Soup Institute (yes, there is one), Germans are masters at celebrating the flavorful fluid. They welcome soup as an appetizer before a main course, or turn it into a full-fledged, hearty meal of its own.

Germany's regional traditional recipes for soup are quite diverse. Not even the French, with their world-famous cuisine, have as many regional soup specialties as Germany does, the institute's website notes. 
 
Most countries have their own local soup varieties, while others are standards around the world: like potato, tomato or vegetable. Click through the gallery above to see some specifically German recipes. Yes, you guessed it – there's even a beer soup! What else?!

The gallery below celebrates another vegetable that's popular in German soups — and in unusual sculptures: the pumpkin.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere

Pumpkins pop up everywhere in Germany come October - sometimes in the oddest of formations. This "pumpkosaurus" is part of an exhibition at Krewelshof in Mechernich in western Germany. Some 48,000 gourds were formed into such artistic sculptures here, while another 25,000 were used purely for decoration.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Japanese gourds

The red kuri squash (known in Europe as a Hokkaido pumpkin) is by far the most popular in Germany. You'll find mounds of them at the supermarkets. While they tend to grow in more arid regions like California, South Africa and, of course, Japan, they are also homegrown in Germany. However, the tradition of annual trips to the pumpkin patch is actually not a big deal here it is in the US.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Skip dessert

In the US, where pumpkins are native, the orange gourds are most often associated with pumpkin pie, which is typically eaten on Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. In Germany, you won't find pumpkin pie anywhere, not even pumpkin muffins. Here, pumpkins are most often used in savory dishes like pumpkin soup.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Savor the seeds

In Germany, it's not just the meat of the pumpkin that lands on the table, but there'S also an appreciation for the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a common addition in bread and rolls, which can be found in many German bakeries.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Say cheese!

Ever tried to carve a red kuri squash? Their skin is particular hard to cut through. The practice of carving pumpkins - a common Halloween tradition in the US - has only been around in Germany for some 25 years. You'd be hard-pressed to find a red kuri jack-o'-lantern in the US. In Germany, they're a common type gourd, though larger Halloween pumpkins can also be found in some supermarkets.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

US import

Halloween first came to Germany in the early 1990s. After the Iraq War broke out in 1991, Carnival celebrations were canceled the next month - out of respect. Costume sellers apparently tried to make up for the loss by promoting Halloween later that fall; it took a few years for the US celebration of ghosts and gouls to really take off. These jack-o'-lanterns were spotted in Brandenburg last year.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Hey Jack

Halloween is said to have begun in Ireland and was brought to the US by Irish immigrants in the 19th century. The jack-o'-lantern takes its name from the legend of a man named Jack, who tricked the devil into not taking him to hell. When he died, heaven apparently didn't want him either, so his soul was homeless. In Ireland, turnips were carved and lit to chase away wandering spirits like Jack's.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Trumpkin

Turnips were replaced by pumpkins in the US, where they are native. There, jack-o'-lantern designs know no boundaries. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, pictured on a pumpkin displayed in Los Angeles, is an obvious choice for this year's carvers. Some people in Germany also place a jack-o'-lantern in front of their home during the week before Halloween, but how many will feature Trump this year?

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Hello, Hillary

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is featured on this elaborately decorated pumpkin featured this month at the "Rise of the Jack-o'-Lanterns" shows in Los Angeles. In the US, the variety of pumpkin most often used for carving is the large, light orange Jack-O'-Lantern type. These can sometimes be found in Germany, but are not that common.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Political pumpkins

In the US, it's not uncommon for jack-o'-lanterns to get political - just like Carnival floats in Germany. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are featured on these less than flattering gourds at Madame Tussauds in New York. Is it a compliment for your face to land on a pumpkin? It remains to be seen whether Chancellor Merkel will feature on Germany's jack-o'-lanterns this year.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Germany's largest pumpkin

While the art of pumpkin carving is still catching on in Germany, the art of pumpkin growing has long been mastered. Matthias Würsching, pictured above in Ludwigsburg, won this year's German championship with his 901-kilo (1,986-pound) white pumpkin.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

California heavyweight

The German winner is even heavier than the first-place pumpkin at the famous Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival in California. This year's winning gourd tipped the scales at 1,910 pounds - claiming a prize of $11,460 for its grower, an elementary school teacher from Washington. Half Moon Bay, a small beach town, has dubbed itself the World Pumpkin Capital.

Soup and jack-o'-lanterns: Germany's fall pumpkin obsession

Musical pumpkin pumpkin

While Germany adopted Halloween from the US only recently (which had earlier adopted the holiday from Ireland), Germany is most certainly one of the leading countries in the world for heavy metal music. It's also home to the world's largest metal festival, Wacken Open Air. Top German heavy metal outfit "Helloween" draws on the holiday's gruesome connotations, using a jack-o'-lantern as its logo.

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