Saturday, October 13, 2012

A German Trip & a French Soup

We are back from our trip to Germany. A jetlagged baby waking up at crazy hours prevented me from recapping my trip sooner, but sadly, there weren't many vegan discoveries to report. My family there lives in a smallish city, where there are several "Reformhauser" or health food stores, but even there many products are vegetarian but not necessarily vegan. It's not like in Berlin, where they're lucky to have vegan cafes and even an all-vegan grocery store. I did get excited to find these vegan gummy bears, because as a kid, before I learned where gelatin comes from, I loved the Haribo ones:

They were totally hard though, and got stuck in my teeth. Possible it was just an old packet or something, but I wouldn't recommend these.

Like I said, the health food stores had lots of vegetarian faux meat products like these:

Vegetarian sandwich meats
Vegetarian sausages because, of course, it's Germany. (Vegetarian liverwurst?! No thanks!)

Vegetarian Wiener Schnitzel makes me laugh. I don't know why. It's just funny.

I didn't check all these packages but I did notice that a lot of them contained egg whites, so they weren't vegan. We easily found non-dairy milks made from soy, oat, or nuts, but no yogurts without soy. The restaurants we went to, unless they were "ethnic," had no vegan options AT ALL. We had several meals out that consisted of green side salads and french fries. It reminded me of 20 years ago when I first went vegetarian in high school (Eek! I just gave my age away!) and I had to make do with meals like that. In all, it seemed pretty easy to get along in Germany as a vegetarian, but quite a lot more difficult as a vegan.

Speaking of french fries, why doesn't this product exist in the US???

Curry ketchup is BRILLIANT. They sell it EVERYWHERE in Germany (I think they usually eat it with sausages) but why don't they sell it here? It's so good! And it's made by Heinz! I really love this stuff, as you can see by my overuse of exclamation points!!! Or do they sell it here, and somehow I've just never noticed this in grocery stores?

At any rate, even though we ate more than our weight in french fries, most of the time we ate at home, and by that I mean my mom's Thai home cooking. I should have taken pictures of it, but I was too busy stuffing my face. Sorry about that. Nothing like two weeks of mom cooking for you, especially if your mom is Thai!

But now we are back in NYC and the cool autumn air has me craving soup. I've always loved French Onion soup but sometimes cooking down all the onions on the stove requires more time and attention than I'm willing to give. I may or may not have burned a pot full of onions on more than one occasion. Which is why I was happy to find a recipe for the soup in Robin Robertson's Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Her recipe is so incredibly easy I don't know why I haven't been doing it this way all along. It's simple enough to recap for you: thinly slice 4 sweet onions (like Vidalia) and put them in your slow cooker with 1/4 cup olive oil. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, then add 5 1/2 cups vegetable stock and cook 30 minutes to 1 hour longer. Robin suggests adding an optional 1/3 cup brandy along with the stock, I didn't do this but I did add a little red wine. To finish, cut some French or Italian bread into slices, top with vegan mozzarella (I used Daiya), then place under the broiler until cheese is melted. Float the toasts on top of the soup in individual bowls to serve. Alternatively, I put the bread on top of the soup, sprinkled the cheese on top, then put the entire bowls in my toaster oven to melt the cheese. I think this way maximizes the melty cheesiness. Bon appetit!

Stay tuned Monday for a special Virtual Potluck post and a chance to win a copy of Robin Asbell's Sweet and Easy Vegan!


  1. An all vegan store in Berlin? That's pretty cool. I guess it is much like here in the US, the bigger cities tend to be more vegan-friendly.

  2. Oh, wow a trip to Europe with a small baby sounds exhausting. I hope the jet lag is gone soon.

    The stuff by Viana is always vegan. They are such a great company! The other brand in your first picture is so notorious for putting eggs into everything. I don't even check their new stuff anymore. Reformhäuser kind of suck, because like you said, they have so much vegetarian stuff. Other health food stores (stores only selling organic stuff, often called Bioladen) which don't belong to that chain are much better. But as you said, there's not often much to choose from if you are in a small village.

    I never tried Heinz curry ketchup. There's another brand who came up with that stuff (Hela) and since I grew up with it, I never tried a different brand. Every time I visit my parents they make sure to have a bottle for me on hand.

    1. I'm kicking myself for not bringing back a bottle of curry ketchup! I'm sure the brand doesn't even matter - I'm just so surprised that we don't have it here at all, even though an American brand makes it! I'm going to have to start making & selling my own here! :)

  3. So you live in NYC, right? The burger chain Bareburger which started in Astoria but also has Manhattan and Brooklyn locations now has amazing vegan burgers and they make their own curry ketchup! It's so so good. I highly recommend checking it out!

    1. Bareburger is AMAZING! There's a new one in Bayside, NY. Sooooo happy!

    2. I haven't had a chance to try Bareburger yet, but I will look for it! Thanks for the recommendations!

  4. I love vegetarian liverwurst and ate it frequently when in the Netherlands and Germany. The pork-fat-laden stuff was a guilty pleasure when I was a child long ago (even for my very health-conscious but not vegetarian mum) every once in a while, though the health problems with it for pig and human alike are glaringly obvious. Spices and mouthfeel makeup its taste profile, and it is a lovely spread. It is a great thing to eat in your little hotel room, on good rye bread, with a glass of whatever you prefer.

    Liverwurst is, of course, a variation on pâté