April 12.

Hans 40percent

Billy the Kid’s Campfire Soup

(an Easter treat)

This is not really a traditional Easter dish but Lothar was thinking of his late brother Hans at Easter time, maybe because there are so many Westerns on TV. Germans of a certain age love Westerns and the TV schedule is full of them at any holiday. You’ll see the Ten Commandments, Gone with the Wind, The Pink Panther, a lot of German fairy tales but also Rio Bravo, The Last Stand, Eldorado. It’s a bit strange to hear #John Wayne speak German, but there you go.

Hans was a machinist by trade but a cowboy at heart. He was part of a cowboy club in the heart of Berlin in the 70s and 80s. These kinds of clubs were popular all over the country. You can trace back Germany’s enduring fascination with the Wild West to the author #Karl May, who wrote dozens of cowboy stories in the late nineteenth century, without actually having visited the American West (but then the author of Tarzan had never been to Africa). The TV program today is full of Karl May movies too.

The club where Hans and his buddies hung out had its own acre-plus property, complete with a saloon, a stable for the club’s horses, and a corral.  The club was a stone’s throw from Hans’s apartment. If, in a fist fight, he had been knocked off of his balcony, he would have either landed crashing through the ceiling of the saloon or if he was lucky (but his horse not so much) right in the saddle for a quick escape.

Hans’s club is no more. There are still a few cowboy clubs in Berlin but the horses are gone and these places are now mainly dance clubs. And yet, all across Germany there are still ‘real’ cowboy clubs.  If Hans was still around, he might have wanted to visit one of the clubs in Hessen. He’d fit right in with his genuine Colt 45 and holster, Bowie knife, and Stetson. His cowboy name was Billy; in fact, no one outside the family called him Hans.

So long, pardner. Auf wiedersehen.

Dry bean mixture: 1 cup, soaked for 12 hrs

Soup vegetables:  all finely diced

carrots (3), parsnips (1), celery root (1 half inch slice), leek (1)

red sweet pepper (1)

hot peppers (1/2 yellow, 1/3 red)

potatoes (5 small)

smoked sausage (2)

Garlic

Seasoning:

Worcestershire sauce

 Tomato paste

Prepared horseradish

Fresh parsley

Fresh dill

Liebstoeckel (Lovage, dried)

Pepper, Salt

and last but not least, Bohnenkraut (summer savory). This is what makes the soup German no matter how much hot pepper you put in it.

Once the beans have soaked for at least 12 hours rinse them and boil them alone for about 30 minutes. Keep the water as your soup stock. Add the diced vegetables; bring to a boil and keep at a very low boil for 1.5 hours. Add sauces and spices to taste. (Do not add salt until beans have been thoroughly cooked). The last spices to add are the fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Remove from heat  before adding the fried and sliced sausage. Let sit, heat again with more fresh herbs and serve.

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