Tyrolean easter tradition: Fine fasting soups
Every year the traditional fasting period begins on Ash Wednesday in Tyrol. It’s an ancient Christian custom supposed to cleanse and strengthen body and soul during the 40 days until Easter. However, the focus is not necessarily on beach bodies or superfluous kilos, but rather on slimming down routines and questioning daily life patterns. Today the healthy “spring cleaning” is (again) becoming increasingly popular and can be done in many different ways: One renounces spirits, meat and sweet sins, switches the smartphone on mute or socialises at public soup kitchens for delicious Tyrolean fasting soups.
Fluids don’t break the fasting
In the past, Christian fasting was pursued much more strictly – during the day, at most a single pious (meatless) meal was allowed. The Catholic Church further always adhered to the principle “fluids don’t break the fasting.” Clever Bavarian monks thus invented the first strong beer – and even received the papal blessing for it: In 1751, when a tasting batch sent for the Vatican’s approval reached it’s destination completely spoiled, the holy father praised the extraordinary penance of the Paulaner monks and blessed the Bavarian “Bock” beer by the grace of God. However, the medival 40-day “beer prayer” does not necessarily have to be endured today – one may also repent without a hangover. Achieved with fine fasting soups, in Tyrol traditionally served and socially enjoyed together on Ash Wednesday. Then local clubs and families invite guests and locals alike to join spontaneous soup kitchens for steaming vegetarian delicacies. Every Ash Wednesday fine fasting soups are served free of charge at the Föhrenwaldplatzl in Leutasch (opposite Sport Wedl).
Recipe: gourmet fasting soups
For one of these fine fasting soups, the Leutasch soup chefs Maria, Christl and Margit let us in on their old family recipe. The basis of such soups lies in a holy trinity of their ingredients: butter, flour and broth (or water) – nothing else. The three soup sisters reveal that the classic “Brennsupp’n” (flour soup) can then further be refined with all kinds of vegetable detail. A fasting soup should nevertheless always stay simple and wholesome – the following recipe can therefore be cooked at home, shared with friends and adapted with favourite flavours.
- 40 g fat
- 40 g flour
- 2 small onions
- 3 carrots
- 1 piece of celery
- 1 clove of garlic
- Some leek
- A good 3 litres of water
- Salt, pepper, cumin, nutmeg, bay leaf, marjoram, rosemary, juniper
- Some mealy potatoes
- A handful of indigenous mushrooms
- Some parsnips
- Stale (shaken) bread
- Cereal Flakes
- Barley grains
- A splash of white wine (vinegar)
- A pinch of sugar
Peel the onions, parsnips and carrots, wash and cut the leeks, peel the celery, pluck the parsley from the stalk, crush the garlic and cook all vegetable scraps with salt and water for about three hours to a strong broth. Then remove the solids, put the stock aside, finely chop the onions and fry them with the butter until soft. Then add the flour and roast until golden to dark brown, finally deglaze with the stock and thicken to a creamy soup while stirring vigorously. Finally, finely dice the carrots and celery and cook until soft in the flowing broth. Add salt, pepper, caraway and spices to taste and serve garnished with parsley. With or instead of the root vegetables, local mushrooms (Schwammerlsupp’n), potatoes (Erdäpflsupp’n), barley grains (Gerstlsupp’n) or some bread (Bauernsupp’n) can be added to the fine Leutasch-style fasting dish.
Freshly tapped fasting pleasures
Who fasts maintains a controlled calorie deficit, the nutritionist knows. This cleanses the intestines, body and mind – but occasionally also causes small shivers, slight irritability and a hungry mumbling in the stomach. These “side-effects” can be countered not only with tasty soups, but also with warm teas or a soothing visit to the spa. Along the medieval walls of the Klosterbräu & Spa in the historic centre of Seefeld you can even follow the footsteps of Bavarian monks – home-brewed beer prayers included.
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Fotos: Chris Weittenhiller