Recipe for Villacher Kirchtag Soup
It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Villach – Villacher Kirchtag! Today I am sharing a recipe for Kirchtagsuppe, a delicious soup served during Kirchtag. Villacher Kirchtag is the largest folk festival in Austria, with a week full of festivities and more than 400,000 visitors coming to town to celebrate. Kirchtag is my favorite time of year in Villach as the old city center fills with music, Austrian food, happy guests, and plenty of beer.
Kirchtag soup is delicious and unlike anything I have eaten before. It has a rich flavor, interesting aromatic spices, and tastes a little sour from the sour cream.
I tried Kirchtag soup at the festival this year and I decided I had to try to make it at home. During my research, I found that there are a lot of variations on how to prepare the best Kirchtag soup. So much in fact, that every year there is a competition for the best Kirchtag soup in Villach and all of the participants heavily guard their secret recipes.
Reviewing recipes online was baffling. To give you an idea of my confusion:
- One recipe listed four eggs in the ingredients while another recipe listed no eggs
- One recipe required a whole pig head to boil as part of the broth
- Some recipes had heavy cream and white wine, some didn’t
- One recipe made the cooking process a two-day ordeal with lots of cooling and sieving and mixing and confusion confusion confusion
- One recipe made enough for 15 liters of soup!
After all of that research, I found that there were some consistencies to Kirchtag soup. It must have:
- Root vegetables
- Four types of meat: beef, lamb, chicken, pork
- Sour cream
- A variety of spices: Nutmeg, basil, bay leaves, anise, cumin, and fennel
In the end, I decided to synthesize a recipe from a mix of three recipes (here, here, and here) to create one that made sense to me. To be honest, I feel a little unsure about sharing this recipe online since Kirchtag soup recipes are a matter of pride for Carinthians. So if you are reading this and think – “a Kirchtag soup without <insert ingredient> that’s ridiculous!” Please be gentle in your beratement of me in the comments 🙂 – just kidding, JUST GIVE ME YOUR AWESOME KIRCHTAG SOUP RECIPE. TELL ME YOUR SECRETS!!!
RECIPE FOR KIRCHTAG SOUP
150 grams beef
150 grams pork
150 grams chicken
150 grams lamb
2 garlic cloves
1/2 of a leek, thoroughly cleaned
1/2 of a parsnip
Palm sized piece of celery root or 2 branches of celery
5 branches of fresh basil
3 branches of lovage or parsley
2 bay leaves
1 tsp saffron
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp anise seeds
1/2 tsp ginger
1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
250 ml heavy cream
250 ml sour cream
1 tbsp flour or corn starch as needed to thicken the soup
salt and pepper to taste
Additional spices: I saw a wide variety of spices listed in recipes if you would like to customize consider adding Juniper, ground ginger, or caraway seeds.
Place the meats with 1 liter of water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil. Continuously skim the foam from the broth and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the vegetables into bite size pieces. After 30 minutes, add the vegetables and spices (except saffron) to the broth and simmer for an additional 20 minutes until a strong broth is made. Keep an eye on the meat to ensure it is not overcooked. Remove meat from the broth once it is soft and cooked.
Once the broth is prepared, strain it through a fine sieve. Take one cup of the strained hot broth and add the saffron in a separate bowl. Depending on the fat content of your meat, you may want to allow the broth to cool and skim off excess fat.
Cut the cooked meat into small cubes and reserve for serving.
Mix the heavy cream, sour cream, and flour together. Heat the broth in a large saucepan and slowly add the cream and flour mixture along with the soaked saffron. Beat with a whisk to incorporate the cream. Heat to a gentle simmer. Your soup should be a lovely pastel yellow color. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
Before serving, I strained my soup once again to remove any accumulated bits from the cream/flour mixture.
If your soup is too thin, you can add cornstarch as needed.
Place portions of the cubed meat in each serving bowl and spoon over the hot soup. I opted to finish my Kirchtag soup with a sprinkle of nutmeg and fresh herbs. Serve with Carinthian Reindling.
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