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Cooking with herbs

Life in SalzburgerLand was characterised by tradition and customs in bygone centuries. Religious life also had an important status. Celebrations, customs and traditions which are still important today show how everyday life back then was strongly influenced by these values. A well-considered cause was usually behind any occasion. For instance, fasting had a cleansing effect after the opulent carnival period, going on a pilgrimage had a comforting effect on body and mind, and celebrating Christmas together had a special importance. The meals which accompanied these feasts were often harmoniously coordinated and brought enjoyment and well-being to people.

Anyone who reads the old recipes will not find any trace of asceticism or bland taste. On the contrary, in former times people knew how to prepare healthy and wholesome dishes so that they were akin to a delicious feast.

It’s so good that these recipes are also still cooked today with pleasure, just like the nine herb soup which is traditionally served on Maundy Thursday. Herbalist Monika Rosenstatter reveals her most favourite recipe for this fine soup:

Monika Rosenstatter: recipe for nine herb soup “Ach Du Grüne Neune” (“Good grief”) from the witch’s kitchen  

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. clarified butter from organic hay-milk
1.5 l water
1 tbsp. fenugreek seeds
2 onions
3 potatoes
Herbal salt
½ tsp. caraway
150 ml cream
Blend of nine herbs (1 handful of each herb)

First of all, pick 9 different herbs on a beautiful spring day during the Easter period, preferably on Maundy Thursday. I would like to list a few things which Mother Nature already gives us in the spring: herb bennet (Geum urbanum), dandelion (Taraxacum off.), daisy (Bellis per.), chickweed (Stellaria media), annual nettle (Urtica urens), ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata), ground ivy (Glechoma glauca), lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) and cowslip (Primula veris). These are just a few of the herbs which are available. Naturally, the flora varies from region to region. But these herbs already grow on the doorstep in “edible grass”, which is organically cultivated and is not for such troublesome work, but for healthy nourishment.

I bring 1.5 litres of water with the fenugreek seeds to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from the stove and steep for another 5 minutes, and then strain. This spicy stock is used to infuse the spring herb soup. Now the onion is braised lightly in the clarified butter in a pot. The onion is salted in the pot as long as it is still cold. This ensures the typical spicy aroma. Add caraway. Infuse with the fenugreek stock. Add the diced potato cubes and boil until soft. The finely chopped spring herbs are added after about 10 minutes. These herbs are now only lightly simmered for 3 to 5 minutes in the soup. Now the soup is pureed and the cream is stirred in. Briefly infuse, dress with fresh colourful spring blossoms and serve fresh.

“Good grief”, said the herbal witch. This is a truly purifying, tasty and precious soup from the witch’s kitchen. May this nourishing soup drive out the winter!

Bon appétit!.

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