Potato Gulasch

In wartime Germany, rationing and availability of ingredients required people to change and adapt. It may not have been possible for soldiers or civilians to eat meat every day. In 1942, a new cookbook for vegetarian and low-meat field kitchen dishes was released. The recipes in this field kitchen cookbook were ones that were already in practical use. It was noted that it is easy to make delicious meals with abundant meat, even simply prepared, because the hearty meat juices or drippings form a basis for rich flavor. For meals with vegetarian ingredients, field kitchen cooks were advised to carefully and correctly handle the ingredients before and during preparation, to make proper use of available seasonings and herbs (especially herbs that could be grown in Germany), and to make good, tasty sauces.

The first recipe in the book is one that uses the tasty sauce strategy. It’s for potato Gulasch. Roasting flour, butter and onions together with some tomato paste in the bottom of the pan and then deglazing it with broth creates a richly flavorful coating for the potatoes. The quantity in the recipe is for one person but the book notes that this may be enough for two and indeed, I prepared the one person quantity and got three meals out of it.

Here is the original recipe from “Fleischlose und Fleischarme Feldküchengerichte” by Richard Schielicke, 1942.

“Potato Gulasch

Up to 1000 g potatoes
10 g fat
2 g dehydrated onions
10 g tomato paste or Condimento
10 g flour
0.5 l bone broth or water with seasoning
Season with salt, vinegar, paprika

Lightly brown the flour in the fat, add the onions and roast them together with a very small part of the tomato paste. Add the broth, stir until smooth and boil thoroughly. Peel the potatoes, dice them and slowly cook them in the sauce until done. Season with vinegar, some paprika if available, and the rest of the tomato paste.”

Simple field meals: Potatoes in gravy

Typical German field fare relied heavily on easily prepared meals made with a limited range of ingredients. In many cases, issues with supply and availability of meat mandated the preparation of meals that used little meat, or were vegetarian. The 1942 cookbook “Fleischlose und Fleischarme Feldküchengerichte” (Vegetarian and Low-Meat Field Kitchen Meals) by Richard Schielicke gave tips on how to make hearty meals without relying on large quantities of meat. “Meals prepared with a sufficient quantity of meat, even when simply prepared, have in the hearty meat juices a good flavor basis that meatless and low-meat dishes lack. We must compensate for that, if of course only in part, through proper handling of the ingredients before cooking, better cooking methods, correct and appropriate use of particularly German seasonings, and the use of good, tasty Tunken (gravies).”

The 1941 cookbook “Die Feldküchengerichte” (The Field Kitchen Meals) gives the following instruction on making gravies.

“The basic ingredient is broth, to this is added a thickener, for example a roux (about 8 grams) or grated white bread (about 20 grams per 1/4 liter).
We will differentiate between dark and light gravies.
Light gravies consist of light broth and light roux. Dark gravies consist of dark broth and dark roux.

Gravies with flour as a thickener

a) Light basic gravy
Melt fat, and roast finely chopped onions in this for a short time. Add flour and cook for a few minutes until light yellow, fill with bone broth or meat broth and cook for 20 minutes. The gravy can be improved by the addition of milk.

Variations of light basic gravy:

Herb gravy: add aromatic herbs of all kinds, especially parsley, chervil, chives, also wild herbs.
Dill gravy: add dill
Chive gravy: add chives
Marjoram gravy: add marjoram
Mustard gravy: add mustard
Tomato gravy: add tomato paste or tomato powder
Bechamel sauce: offset the light gravy recipe with one-third milk
Horseradish gravy: Make Bechamel sauce and mix in grated horseradish

b) Dark basic gravy
Melt fat. Add flour and slowly roast until brown, constantly stirring. Add onions and brown for a short time. Fill with dark broth and cook 20 minutes.

Dark broth for filling:

Roast smaller bones with soup vegetables and boil for a few hours. If dark broth is not available, fill with light broth or hot water and improve with yeast extract or seasonings.

Variations of dark basic gravy:

Herb gravy: add herbs, especially marjoram, thyme
Pickle gravy: add pickles and pickle juice
Mustard gravy: add mustard

c) Gravies with grated white bread as a thickener
Cook grated white bread or Zwieback in the broth. In a pinch, it is enough to soak it and stir it into the boiling hot broth.
Flavoring ingredients are as with the light and dark gravies.”

“Die Feldküchengerichte” goes on to provide instructions for “Tunkenkartoffeln” (Gravy potatoes). “Peel boiled potatoes, slice, and heat in one of the light or dark gravies.” The book gives a list of potato meals that can be prepared simply by making the corresponding gravy and heating prepared potatoes in them:

Tomato potatoes
Marjoram potatoes
Herb potatoes
Dill potatoes
Mustard potatoes, etc.

The “Ten Rules for the Field Cook” mandated that field meals were to be cooked thick, not soupy. An ample portion of cooked potatoes in a rich and flavorful sauce is a hearty and filling meal that yields a lot of satisfaction and energy. Even without meat, it is heavy comfort food. Home cooks in wartime were also encouraged to make simple, easily cooked meals like this to save energy for war work, and to be thrifty with raw ingredients in a time of scarcity.

The photo at the start of this article shows potatoes in a light gravy with marjoram. Marjoram was not widely used in the USA until after WWII but it had a long history in Germany where it had over 10 different local common names. “Fleischlose und Fleischarme Feldküchengerichte” says that marjoram is “an excellent seasoning for savory gravies, legume and potato dishes, and the good, old pea soup is unthinkable without it.”

Baking bread in the mess kit

This recipe comes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” by Gerhard Bönicke, published by the Wehrmacht in 1943.

“In a pinch, bread can be baked in the mess kit. Mix 2 mess kit lids of flour (about 540 grams) with a half mess kit lid of cold water, a packet of baking powder [about 16 grams] and a half a teaspoon of salt. Knead it all together well, and form a roll that is as long as a mess kit lying flat. Roll the roll of dough in flour. Lay it flat in the mess kit and put the lid on. Carry it flat to the fire, and lay it flat in glowing wood coals or a burned down camp fire. Cover with hot ash, and allow to bake for 90 minutes. Test it with a wood sliver to see if it is done. Allow the bread to cool, and remove it from the mess kit. Do not eat until the bread has cooled.”

German pot roast (Schmorbraten) from a Wehrmacht recipe, prepared in the field

In a previous post we shared a recipe for German style pot roast, from a Wehrmacht cookbook. I wanted to try to cook this over a fire using types of cookware that might have been available to Wehrmacht soldiers. The original recipe is deliberately vague and open to interpretation, as is common for Wehrmacht recipes; they had to be flexible, as what ingredients were locally available could vary from place to place, and from time to time. I altered the recipe slightly based on traditional German Schmorbraten recipes, and what ingredients were readily available for me. The dish was easy to prepare and absolutely delicious.

I started with a chuck roast. I tied it with a string so that it would stay in one piece during cooking. I seasoned it with salt and pepper.

In a frying pan, I seared the meat in a little oil on high heat on both sides, until it was well-browned.

I removed the meat from the pan, and set it aside in a pot. In the same pan I used for the meat, I fried some onions until translucent.

I then added chopped root vegetables to the pan. I used potatoes, carrots and parsnips, as those were what was available in my area.

After the vegetables had browned up a bit, I added some flour, constantly stirring, until the vegetable pieces were lightly coated with flour. The purpose of this is to thicken the sauce into a rich, thick gravy as the roast cooks.

After this, I put the vegetables in the pot on top of the meat. I used a little red wine to de-glaze the pan. The roasted bits from the bottom of the pan add a lot of flavor to the gravy.

I poured the wine into the pot over the vegetables and meat and added water to cover all of the ingredients, and put the pot over a hot fire to bring the water to a boil.

To season the broth, I added a couple of cubes of beef bullion, as well as bay leaves, whole allspice, and caraway seeds. The photo illustrates the amount of spices I used.

After the pot came to a boil, cooking was just a matter of maintaining a simmer over a low heat, and occasionally stirring.

I simmered the roast for three hours, after which the meat was absolutely fork tender, falling apart. No knife needed.

The flavor of the meat was fantastic, the gravy thick and rich. Hearty and nourishing- pure comfort food.

Might Wehrmacht soldiers have access to the meat and other ingredients for this meal? It would depend on where they were, and the local situation, but there is abundant documentation for soldiers obtaining foodstuffs and making meals when they could, to supplement their rations. This drawing, made by a German soldier, shows soldiers shopping from locals in Poland in 1939.

Wehrmacht Pumpkin Recipes

When German troops invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the people in charge of logistics had to find ways to make use of locally available foodstuffs. One of the vegetables that they encountered lots of, was the pumpkin. Recipes were distributed to field kitchens, to allow the cooks to use this vegetable in a variety of ways. Here are recipes from two wartime Wehrmacht sources.

From the war diary of the 281. Sicherungs-Division, in the US National Archives:

Recipe 1: Pumpkin Soup
This recipe can be distributed to the troops as an appetizer or as a warm evening meal. The pumpkin is peeled, the exterior and core are removed, and then it is boiled in water and milk with cinnamon sticks, to form a nice, creamy stock.

Recipe 2: Pumpkin Marmalade
As a further use of pumpkin, the Lehrstab recommends pumpkin marmalade or puree. The pumpkin is peeled, washed, and sliced into thin slices using a slaw cutter, so that it can be salted in barrels, just like how white cabbage is made into sauerkraut, for 6-8 weeks. This can only be done in times of rest, as it is too difficult for a unit on the move.

Recipe 3: Sweet and Sour Pumpkin Compote
The pumpkin is peeled, the exterior and core are removed, it is diced into small cubes and boiled. The water in which the pumpkin is cooked is then boiled down with vinegar, cloves and sugar, to form a sauce. This is allowed to cool and poured over the pumpkin. After a couple of hours, the pumpkin is soaked through and tastes exquisite.

From the Wehrmacht cookbook “Östliche Speisen nach deutscher Art”

Pumpkin is well-suited for a compote, but can also be cooked together in goulash, stews, Milchreis etc. Before use, pumpkin has to be cut up, peeled, the core removed, and cut into small pieces.

Pumpkin as a vegetable: Boil the prepared pumpkin until done. Fry in fat with roasted onions and bacon. Season well with salt and spices. Serve mashed or thickened with a roux.

Brown pumpkin vegetable dish: Boil the prepared pumpkin in a little water. Add salt and a clove and cook until done. Prepare a brown roux. Add pumpkin broth to form a thick sauce. Add the pumpkin pieces to this sauce. Season sweet/sour- add some browned sugar and cook through with vinegar or water. Note: instead of vinegar you can also use lemon juice but do not boil it together with lemon juice. If it’s not possible to take the pumpkin pieces out of the broth, bind the pumpkin together with the broth, with the roux.

Pumpkin Puree with Rice: Boil the pumpkin in a little water, puree by using a sieve or machine. Boil 1 part rice in 2 parts pumpkin water and 2 parts milk, then cook over gentle heat until done. Add the cooked pumpkin and mix well. Season with salt and grated nutmeg. Serve whenever possible with brown butter poured over it. Instead of rice, corn grits, barley, buckwheat groats, or millet can be used. This recipe can also be switched for a sweet recipe; instead of salt, use sugar, and instead of nutmeg, use cinnamon.

Pumpkin, Hungarian Style: The prepared pumpkin pieces are sprinkled with salt and caraway seeds and allowed to sit for a few hours. In a little fat, fry 1 diced onion and some flour. Add a little water, stir until smooth and bring to a boil. Add the pumpkin pieces and cook until done. Season with some paprika and let the pumpkin soak up the sauce. Season with condensed milk and lemon juice.

Pumpkin for Gulasch and stews: Dice the prepared pumpkin and add to Gulasch or stews about 30-45 minutes before the stew is done, and cook together.

Pumpkin as compote: The prepared pumpkin is cooked in sugar water together with some vinegar, ginger or cloves until done.

To dry pumpkin: Peel the pumpkin, remove the core and cut into very thin slices. The slices can be threaded onto a string using a needle, and dried in the sun. If not threaded, the pumpkin slices can be dried on frames, in the air, ion the stove top, or in a not-too-warm baking oven.

Recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” part 4

Recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” part 4

The recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” by Gerhard Bönicke will be posted here in four parts as follows:

Part 1: Soups and egg dishes
Part 2: Vegetable and potato dishes
Part 3: Fish, meat dishes and sauces
Part 4: Salads, miscellaneous, sweet dishes and drinks

Part 4 follows.



Vegetable salad. Boil any kind of vegetables (about 500 grams per man) and drain. Season the cooking water with vinegar or lemon juice, some salt, a little sugar, paprika and herbs, and thicken with potato flour (see fruit sauce). Add the vegetables and mix well together. When available, add raw, finely chopped sauerkraut and diced pickles.

Cucumber salad. Wash and peel the cucumbers, or leave young cucumbers unpeeled. Slice them as thinly as possible, salt lightly and drizzle with vinegar or lemon juice, oil or sour milk. When available, add some pepper or paprika.

Potato salad. Prepare as with vegetable salad, but use Pellkartoffln [boiled potatoes with the peel intact] cut into slices. Its good to add plenty of diced raw onion, diced pickles and finely chopped raw sauerkraut.

Lettuce. Wash the lettuce leaves well, drip dry and drizzle with a little vinegar or lemon juice, oil or sour milk. Tomato salad. Slice the tomatoes into very thin pieces and prepare as with lettuce, but with plenty of diced onion and some pepper or paprika.

Miscellaneous (cook rice, prepare roux, cook pasta, stew fruit)

Roux. In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter, margarine, lard or oil, and add 1 heaping tablespoon of wheat flour or if necessary, rye flour. Stir constantly, and fry until the flour is golden or brown. Quickly remove the pan from the heat, and add ½ a drinking cup of water, bit by bit, stir well, return the pan to the fire and stir constantly to a smooth, creamy porridge. Add immediately to sauces, vegetables and meat dishes.

Stew fruits. Take 250-500 grams rhubarb stalks per man, wash them well, don’t peel them, and cut into 2-3 cm long pieces. Put in a pot with cherries, currants, whole plums, peeled quartered apples or pears without the cores, boil with as little water as possible until done (do not boil them to pieces!), sweeten to taste and allow to cool.

Rice pudding. Wash 2 to 2-1/2 drinking cups of rice, add 2 drinking cups full of water and bring to a boil over low heat. Do not stir! When the water is absorbed, add 2 drinking cups full of milk, little by little, and allow to continue to soak over the lowest heat, just until the rice becomes a bit granular. You can also toast the rice in a pan with some butter until it is golden brown, prior to cooking.

Noodles, macaroni, spaghetti. Bring 6 drinking cups full of water to boil in a pot. Add some salt, soup seasoning, bouillon cubes or meat extract, and shake in 4-6 handfuls of pasta. Slowly boil over low heat until the pasta is butter-soft. Shortly before serving, take the pasta out and drain it, rinse quickly with cold water, and mix in some butter, margarine or oil.

Sweet dishes

Applesauce. Thinly pare ripe or windfall apples, remove the cores and boil until soft with a little water and sugar to taste. Spread or mash through a sieve or loosely woven fabric. If available, mix in raisins, currants, and grated lemon peel.

Caramel pudding. In a dry pot or jar, melt 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar until brown, without adding water, until blue smoke develops. Quickly remove from heat and immediately add 1 drinking cup full of water, bring to a boil until caramelized sugar is completely dissolved, then add two drinking cups full of whole or skim milk, bring to a boil. Stir 4 tablespoons of pudding powder, corn starch or potato flour into a little water, and add to the pot to thicken. Bring to a boil once more, and pour the contents of the pot into a bowl that has been rinsed with cold water, to cool. To serve, overturn onto a flat plate.

Semolina pudding. Boil 3 drinking cups full of whole or skim milk, water, or half milk/half water. Whisk in ¾ of a drinking cup of wheat semolina, and boil 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add sugar to taste, and when available, add vanilla sugar and raisins. Pour into a bowl as with caramel pudding, and tip it out later (as above). Good with stewed fruit of all kinds (see above).


Hot orangeade or lemonade. Mix the juice of 5 oranges or lemons with 4 drinking cups of water and 4 tablespoons of sugar, heat and drink hot.

Hot lemon milk. Stir together the juice of 5 lemons, 1-1/4 liters (5 drinking cups full) whole or skim milk, and 3 tablespoons of sugar, bring to a boil and drink hot.

Coffee. Brew 5-10 teaspoons finely ground coffee with 1 to 1-1/4 liters (4-5 drinking cups) boiling water. Steep 3 minutes and pour through a sieve or linen cloth into a pot. Add coffee essence of choice.

Hot cocoa. Stir 4-8 teaspoons cocoa powder together with 6-8 teaspoons of sugar, and a little cold water or cold milk. Bring 1 to 1-1/2 liters (4-6 drinking cups) water, milk or a water/milk mixture to a boil, pour in the stirred cocoa mixture. Boil up again and remove from heat.

Cooling fruit milk. Mix 4 drinking cups full of whole or skim milk with your choice of fruit juice, and cool.

Cooling lemon water. Stir the juice of 2-3 lemons together with 5 drinking cups full of cold tea (see below) and 3 tablespoons of sugar, and let steep 5 minutes. If needed, cool with a refrigerating mixture [described in a different part of the book].

Tea. Bring 1 liter (4 drinking cups) water to a boil, add 1 teaspoon black tea (or 1 tablespoon German tea) and steep 5 minutes. Add sugar and lemon to taste.”

Recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” Part 3

Recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” Part 3

The recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” by Gerhard Bönicke will be posted here in four parts as follows:

Part 1: Soups and egg dishes
Part 2: Vegetable and potato dishes
Part 3: Fish, meat dishes and sauces
Part 4: Salads, miscellaneous, sweet dishes and drinks

Part 3 follows.


(Fish requirement per man about 250 grams of fish for boiling, or 200 grams of fish for frying/baking, or less in an emergency.) Wash river and sea fish well in vinegar water, remove scales with a knife, cut the belly open and remove innards, cut off the head, tail, and fins, thoroughly wash again and- if possible- rub with vinegar water or lemon water.

Fried fish. Roll the fish or fish pieces in flour, dip in milk, roll in bread crumbs and fry until golden brown in a hot pan with oil. For large pieces, cover the pan briefly and let the fish steam. Season with chopped onion greens, parsley and chives, and preferably drizzled with lemon juice. Serve with Salzkartoffeln or Pellkartoffeln.

Steamed fish. Heat fat in a pot, add the fish, season with diced onions and lemon juice, cover pot and allow juice to form. Lightly thicken the juice with a roux, salt to taste, add Salzkartoffeln.

Boiled fish. Boil the fish until soft in plenty of water with some salt and sliced or diced onions. Season the cooking water with lots of green dill, soup seasoning, bouillon cubes, parsley and some salt, and thicken with flour or a roux.

Meat dishes (100-150 grams meat per man)

Meatballs (meatloaf). Finely chop beef or pork (or a mix of both) or put it through a meat grinder, mix with paprika, salt, some mustard and raw diced onion. Soften some chopped up chunks of bread in water or milk, and add some wheat or rye flour. Form into apple sized balls, roll in bread crumbs and fry in a pan with plenty of hot fat, until well browned on all sides.

Gulasch. Cut up beef, pork, veal, and mutton, or any one of those, into not-too-small cubes. Brown on all sides in hot fat with lots of diced onion, some garlic and plenty of paprika. Add a little water and some salt, and cook until soft. Replace the water that steams away.

Roast veal (also mutton or pork). Prepare like Gulasch, but leave the meat whole. Always make roast in an oven, turn it often and baste it in the drippings. Score the rind of pork checkerboard style with a knife. Season mutton with garlic.

Boiled meat of all kinds. Add the meat to hot water, salt, pepper or paprika, herbs of your choice (mutton with some garlic), and cook until soft. At the end, thicken the cooking water with some flour or a roux and add raw unions or onions fried in fat. If meat broth is needed, put the meat in lots of cold water with a few marrow bones, pour out most of the water before thickening with flour or roux, and season with finely chopped parsley.

Schnitzel and cutlets. Beat meat slices until tender, roll like fried fish in milk, flour and bread crumbs, add some salt and fry until brown in a pan in hot fat.

Game ragout (also other meat ragouts). Prepare meat as with Gulasch, fry and boil until done, for a sauce add marmalade or sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, lemon or vinegar to taste.


Bechamel sauce. Dice 2 medium onions and fry until golden brown in 1 tablespoon of butter, margarine, lard or oil. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of wheat or rye flour, and fry while stirring until light brown, then add 1 drinking cup full of whole or skim milk and season the sauce with salt and some paprika.

Fruit sauce. Warm fruit juice. Stir some potato flour (corn starch, corn flour or pudding powder) into cold water, stir until smooth and add to boiling fruit juice.

Horseradish sauce, Clean a thumb-size piece of horseradish and grate it. Prepare a roux with 1 heaping tablespoon wheat or rye flour and 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or lard. Dissolve that in 1 drinking cup full of milk or water, bring to a boil and add the grated horseradish, season with a little salt and ½ teaspoon sugar and allow to cook a little bit more.

Parsley sauce. Bring equal parts milk and water to a boil, thicken with potato flour (see fruit sauce) or a roux. Add salt, soup seasoning, meat extract and raw or roasted diced onion and at the end, add lots of finely chopped parsley (in place of parsley you can use green dill, to make a dill sauce for fish dishes).

Mustard sauce. Stir 4 tablespoons of mustard in 1 drinking cup of water until smooth, add some salt and a pinch of sugar, Stir a heaping tablespoon of potato flour in a cup of milk or cold water, and add to the boiling sauce to thicken. Good with hard boiled eggs, fish recipes

Bacon sauce. Brown diced bacon and onions in a pan, add some rye or wheat flour, and as soon as the flour begins to brown, add cold water or cold milk, stir and boil for a short time. When you add the cold water or cold milk, you need to have the pan off the fire. Season to taste with soup seasoning, salt, herbs, etc.

Recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” Part 2

Recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” Part 2

The recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” by Gerhard Bönicke will be posted here in four parts as follows:

Part 1: Soups and egg dishes
Part 2: Vegetable and potato dishes
Part 3: Fish, meat dishes and sauces
Part 4: Salads, miscellaneous, sweet dishes and drinks

Part 2 follows.

Vegetable and Potato Dishes

Fried potatoes. Take Salzkartoffeln, Pellkartoffeln [see below], or raw potatoes that have been peeled and cut into very thin slices, put them into a hot pan with fat or bacon, cook until golden brown (flip often!). If possible, cook together with diced onions and leftover meat. For 4 men, about 20 medium potatoes, sliced, is recommended.

Salzkartoffeln or Pellkartoffeln. Take 5-6 medium potatoes per man, slice thin, wash, put in cold water with some salt, and put it on the heat. Allow to boil until the slices can be easily stuck through with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife. Drain out the water and put the pot back on the fire, turning it several times, to steam. Pellkartoffeln are not peeled, and are prepared the same way. Pellkartoffeln are healthier and more thrifty than Salzkartoffeln.

Mashed potatoes. Prepare 4-5 potatoes per man as Pellkartoffeln, remove the peels, and grate or mash well. Take ½ drinking cup full of milk or water per man, or a half milk, half water mixture, warm it, add salt and add to the mashed potatoes. Briefly heat it again, stirring it well.

Potato noodles, potato cakes. Mix 2 drinking cups full of mashed potatoes with about a third of a cup of wheat flour and one egg. Add salt and let rest for a half hour. From this mixture, roll out finger-thick noodles on a flour-dusted board, or form patties the size of the palm of your hand, rolled in flour. Patties are best if rolled in bread crumbs and cooked until golden on both sides, in a well-heated pan. Or, cut the finger thick rolled out dough into 5 cm long strips and put in boiling water, then simmer until the noodles float to the surface, remove from the water, allow to dry, and lightly fry in a greased pan.

Simple potato pancakes. For each man, grate 3 medium size potatoes, stir this raw mixture well. In a pan (if possible, use 2 pans) heat butter, lard, tallow, margarine or oil, and add the batter, in a thin layer. Cook on medium heat until light brown on both sides. Good with applesauce and sweetened coffee.

Green beans (about 500 grams of beans per man). Cut off the tips of the beans and pull out the strings. Wash the beans, break or chop them up, heat them with some fat in a pot and steam, cautiously adding water. When the beans are soft, add a little more water and thicken with a roux, season to taste with savory and a little salt. Good with beef and mutton. If the beans are to be cooked together with meat, first place the meat in cold water, boil until half done, then add beans and prepare as above.

Legumes in porridge form. Soak 1000 grams of legumes overnight in 6 drinking cups full of water, prepare like bean soup (see above) and when done, replace the water that has evaporated. Mash the very soft legumes. Good with potatoes, sauerkraut and fatty meat.

Kohlrabi. Cut the woody stem ends off of 2 kg Kohlrabi, then peel, wash, and slice as thinly as possible. Kohlrabi greens can be used with it, finely chopped, as long as it is tender and green. Steam and thicken as with green beans. Good cooked with some coriander, popular with all kinds of meat dishes.

Canned vegetables. Bring the contents of the can to a boil and thicken with a roux, season to taste.
Cabbage (green and savoy cabbage), kale. Clean one medium head per man, remove wilted leaves, wash well. Do not wash the inside of the head. Chop or cut in strips, season with coriander and some salt, and steam like beans (see above). Prepare red cabbage like green or savoy cabbage, but chop more finely, and boil in a little more water together with some sugar, citric acid, and, if possible, apple slices, until done, and slowly stew it.

Green corn (maize). Take immature corn cobs that have the beginnings of kernels, remove the leaves and cook in a little water, until the kernels can easily be punctured with a fork. Before eating, spread with fresh butter, eat with Salzkartoffeln or Pellkartoffeln.

Carrots. Wash 2 kg of carrots, peel and slice into centimeter thick slices. Steam like green beans. When done, add some finely chopped parsley and carrot greens (carrot greens are very rich in vitamins!).

Sauerkraut. Mix 1 to 1-1/2 kg Sauerkraut, unwashed, together with a lot of coriander and diced onion, and steam as with green beans. Good with sausages, legume porridge, fatty meat. Sauerkraut is healthiest mixed with coriander and eaten raw.

Spinach. Remove wilted leaves and roots from 3 kg of spinach, wash very well, allow to drip dry, quickly cook with a little water until the leaves wilt. Chop on a board as finely as possible (when possible, run through a meat grinder). Boil until done with a little water, chopped onions and some salt. When it is done, add a handful of finely chopped, raw spinach leaves. Good with meat and all kinds of egg dishes.

Turnips and rutabagas. Wash 2 kg of turnips, peel and chop, place on the fire with water and a little salt and cook until soft (cooking time about 2 hours). Good with fatty meat.

All vegetables are described here as pure vegetable dishes. With the exception of spinach, all of the vegetables can be cooked together with potatoes. The weight of the vegetables is then reduced by the weight of the potatoes. Except for the longer cook time of turnips, the raw potatoes can be started at the same time as other vegetables. With turnips you should add the potatoes after about 1-1/2 hours of cooking time. Also, meat can be cooked together with the vegetables and potatoes, as a stew; in this case, follow the instructions as with green beans (see above).

Recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” Part 1

Recipes from “Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” Part 1

“Tornister-Lexikon für den Frontsoldaten” by Gerhard Bönicke was a book of tips for life in the field that was published by the Wehrmacht for distribution to soldiers in 1943. There is a section in this book with simple recipes that soldiers could prepare themselves, using available ingredients, even using leftover field kitchen meals. Many of the measurements are given in “drinking cups” which is ideal for field cooking, when no scale or measuring cup is available. The recipes are meant for 4 people and a lot of them are really ideal for reenactment field cooking. They also provide useful cultural information.

The recipes in the book will be posted here in four parts as follows:

Part 1: Soups and egg dishes
Part 2: Vegetable and potato dishes
Part 3: Fish, meat dishes and sauces
Part 4: Salads, miscellaneous, sweet dishes and drinks

Part 1 follows.

Simple recipes, each for 4 people.

Comparative measures and weights:

1 drinking cup = about 16 tablespoons = ¼ liter

1 drinking cup of flour: about 125 g
of rice: about 220 g
of barley: about 200 g
of sago: about 200 g
of groats: about 180 g
of semolina: about 160 g
of sugar: about 200 g

1 level teaspoon of butter: about 20 g
of flour: about 10 g
of sugar: about 20 g
of salt: about 10g


Bean soup (also pea or lentil soup). 500 g legumes (3 drinking cups full), soak the day before in 2 liters of water without adding soda bicarbonate, on the next day boil until soft, add roasted diced onions, bacon, or bread, thicken with flour or roux (see below). Good with beef, pork, or mutton, excellent with smoked meat or sausage.

Vegetable soup. Leftovers of vegetable dishes (4-5 drinking cups full), or twice as much washed, diced carrots, green beans, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, red beets, leeks etc. First boil in a little water until soft, then add enough water to make 3 liters of soup, add lots of herbs (parsley, savory, lovage, celery and onion greens), chopped onions and a little garlic, add salt, bouillon cubes, meat extract, etc., to taste. When everything is cooked, add 4 tablespoons of rye or wheat flour (or 3 tablespoons of potato flour) stirred into some cold water, or a roux (see below), to thicken. If you don’t have flour, you can grate 3-4 medium sized raw potatoes into the soup.

Barley soup. 250 g barley (1-1/2 drinking cups full), soak overnight in 2 liters of water, boil until done the next day. Add salt, soup seasoning, herbs to taste, dice 4 medium onions, roast them and add to the soup. Good with all kinds of leftover meat.

Semolina soup. Slowly add 100 g semolina (½ canteen cup full) to 2 liters whole or skim milk or water, stirring constantly, until a thick porridge is formed. Continue to boil for 5 minutes, and either add salt or soup seasoning and chopped herbs to taste, or sweeten with sugar. If the latter, good with raw or stewed fruits (see below).

Rolled oats soup. Bring to a boil 2 liters of milk or water (or a mix), add 1 drinking cup of rolled oats bit by bit, constantly stirring, allow to boil 5 minutes while stirring. Season to taste with salt or sugar.
Potato soup. Mash 12 medium sized, boiled potatoes (or use a corresponding quantity of mashed potatoes), put on heat with 2 liters of water and stir until smooth, salt to taste and add soup seasoning as available. On a frying pan, roast bacon and 8 medium sized diced onions, and add to soup. Good with smoked meat, sausages, sausage slices, or any kind of leftover meat.

Flour soup. Bring 2 liters of milk or water to a boil. Stir 6 heaping teaspoons of rye or wheat flour into some cold water, and add to the boiling milk or water. Bring to a boil, season or sweeten to taste, and just before serving, add some fresh butter.

Noodle soup. Add 4-6 canteen cups of pasta (ribbon noodles or spiral pasta) to 2 liters boiling water, and cook until soft. Add salt, soup seasoning, chopped herbs, chopped onions to taste, allow to continue to soak 10 minutes in a warm place. Good with all kinds of leftover meat. Excellent with beef.

Egg dishes

Egg cake (pancake, omelet). Stir together 2-4 eggs with 250 grams of flour (2 drinking cups full), add 2 drinking cups full of whole or skim milk. Mix together well, and add salt or sugar to taste. Heat butter, lard, margarine or oil in a pan, pour ¼ of the batter into the pan and cook on low flame until golden brown on both sides. Then use the rest of the batter to make three more egg cakes in the same manner. Good with a filling of marmalade or stewed fruit or, if seasoned with salt, with roasted diced bacon and onions, or with leftover meat.

Hard-boiled eggs. Place eggs in cold water, allow to boil at least 10 minutes and then peel in cold water. Good on bread (cut into slices) or finely crumbled, mixed with butter or margarine and blended with chives, as a spread on bread.

Scrambled eggs. Stir 4 eggs together with 4 tablespoons of flour and 2 drinking cups full of whole or skim milk. Add finely chopped chives and parsley, add salt, and cook in a pan with some oil, stirring frequently, until light golden brown. Good with diced ham, as a side dish for fried potatoes and vegetables.

Schmarren. Stir together 150 grams wheat flour (¾ of a drinking cup full) with 2 to 4 egg yolks, 1 drinking cup full of whole or skim milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a little salt. Beat the egg whites into a foam and add to the other ingredients, and mix well. In a large frying pan, heat butter, lard, margarine or oil, and pour the batter into the hot fat. Cook for 3 minutes, flip it over, cook 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and sprinkle with sugar.

Fried eggs (ox eyes). Heat fat in the pan and break 4 to 8 eggs into it. Cook until egg white is solid. Good with spinach and fried potatoes.

Soft-boiled eggs. Put eggs in cold water, bring to a boil and cook 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs. Peel like hard-boiled eggs.

WWII German Recipes for Buckwheat Groats

Buckwheat groats are a staple grain in Russia. They are healthy and delicious. Where I live, in the USA, there are Russian specialty grocery stores that offer several brands of buckwheat groats.

Wehrmacht personnel fighting on the Eastern Front during WWII had to learn to eat local food that was available, including buckwheat groats. The following recipes were distributed by the supply section of the 281. Sicherungs-Division, in an order dated December 12, 1941.

Buckwheat Groats (Stew) Ration size 100 g
120 g fresh meat
80 g buckwheat groats
125 g fresh vegetables
125 g potatoes
5 g onions
Season with salt
     Trim some fat from the meat, fry it and set it to the side. Dice the meat, fry it, add the finelty chopped onions and fry together for a short time. Add the washed groats, together with water (45 parts water to 1 part groats). Boil for about 1.5 hours. Peel and chop the vegetables, peel the potatoes and slice or dice, add to the pot and cook until done. 
     The finished dish can be seasoned with salt with yeast extract or seasoning, or thickened with soy. 
     The flavor of the stew can be improved by using wurst broth instead of the water.
Fried Dumplings (or “Falscher Hase”) Made with Buckwheat Groats 

60 g fresh meat without bones
20 g buckwheat groats
10 g grated Zwieback
10 g whole soy
5 g onions
10 g fat (from supplies or slice from the meat)
Season with salt and pepper or substitute marjoram for the pepper or savory.
     Cook the groats with water (5 parts water to 1 part groats) until you have a firm mass, allow to cool. For meat, take if possible a mixture of half pork ad half beef, and finely grind it in a meat grinder together with the raw onions. 
     Mix the meat and groats together well, add salt, pepper, soy and grated Zwieback as a binder. Marjoram or savory, if used, should be used very carefully. After mixing well, it is recommended to put the mixture through the meat grinder again. The purpose of this is to achieve maximum mixing of the ingredients, which is of particular importance.
     Roll the dumplings (or for “Falscher Hase, the pieces) in grated Zwieback and fry in hot fat.
Bread Spread Using Buckwheat Groats
40 g fresh meat
20 g buckwheat groats

20 g soup greens
10 g sunflower seed oil
5 g onions
Season with salt and pepper

     Cook the groats with water (5 parts water to 1 part groats) until you have a firm mass, allow to cool. For cooked meat, take if possible a mixture of half pork ad half beef, and finely grind it in a meat grinder together with most of the raw onions and soup greens. Mix the meat and groats together well. Fry the rest of the onions in the sunflower seed oil until brown, add to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
     If the spread is a little too thick, add some water or sausage broth. The completed mixture yields 120 g.

     The Wehrmacht cookbook “Östliche Speisen nach deutscher Art” has a whole chapter on buckwheat groats:

     Possibilities for use: Buckwheat can be used for soup, porridge, dumplings, risotto, groats, and sweet dishes.
     In addition, buckwheat is a great substitute for potatoes in stews. Cook the buckwheat in the stew 30-40 minutes.
     Buckwheat thickens when it soaks. In general 20-30 g per person is sufficient.
     Buckwheat is a good way to extend ground beef in recipes. 
     In this manner dry buckwheat can be made into a thick porridge: 
     The ratio is 300 g buckwheat to 1 liter water.
     The cooled buckwheat is thoroughly mixed with the ground meat.
     Per person, you need:
          50 g meat
          20 g buckwheat
          65 g water
     Taking into account losses in cooking, it yields about 120 grams.
     Making Grützwurst with Buckwheat
     50 g meat with bones, 20 g dry buckwheat
     Cook the meat until tender. Soak the buckwheat in the broth to make a thick porridge. The ratio is 200 g buckwheat to 1 liter broth. The cooked meat is ground and mixed in with the groats. Season as usual.
Buckwheat Soup 

     Cook 20 g buckwheat and a finely chopped onion in a little fat. Peel and dice a medium potato, finely chop 100 grams vegetables and add them to the fat, cook briefly. Add 1/3 liter water, bring to a boil, add salt, cook until done.

Buckwheat Risotto

     Fry onions in fat, add buckwheat and cook together very briefly. Add liquid (ratio: 3 parts liquid to 1 part groats), bring to a boil, cook on low heat until done. After cooking, mix in some grated cheese or cheese powder.

Buckwheat with Beef or Mutton

     Dice and brown the meat. Add finely chopped onions, up to 100 g buckwheat, 1 teaspoon tomato paste, cook together briefly. Add water (1 part buckwheat to 2 parts water), bring to a boil and cook until done.

Buckwheat Groats with Tomatoes
     Peel and quarter tomatoes and fry in a little fat. Make the buckwheat groats as described above, 10 minutes before being done, add the tomatoes.
     Buckwheat groats with vegetables:  instead of tomatoes, use finely chopped and fried vegetables.
     Buckwheat groats with fried bacon cubes: Mix fried diced bacon into the groats. The bacon could also be sprinkled on the groats when serving.
Buckwheat Dumplings
     Make a mixture of 1 liter buckwheat flour, 30 grams wheat, salt and a little warm milk.  Beat into a thick dough and leave 2 hours in a warm place. Make dumplings using a spoon covered in flour. Drop into boiling salt water, cook uncovered until done. Serve with brown butter or some fried fruit.
Fried Dumplings with Buckwheat
     Stir 1 part buckwheat into 2 parts boiling water. Bring to a boil, cook on low heat until done, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and put through a meat grinder with 1 small onion. Mix together with ground meat (1 part buckwheat to 1 part meat). Season with salt and pepper, form into dumplings with wet hands, fry in oil.
Fried Buckwheat Cakes
     Soak 75 g buckwheat in 1/4 liter buttermilk to form a thick porridge. Add salt, fried onion, very little garlic, chopped parsley, 50 g flour. Mix all together and add more buttermilk if too thick. Form into little cakes, fry in hot fat. Meant as a side dish to meat dishes, or in a sauce can also be a main course.
Vegetable Stew with Buckwheat 
     Dice meat, brown in hot fat. Add 50 g buckwheat and up to 500 g finely chopped vegetables and fry together briefly. Add 1/2 liter water, bring to a boil, add salt, cook until done. Season.
Sweet Buckwheat Groats 
     Add 1 part buckwheat to 2 parts boiling milk. Add sugar, lemon peel, a little cinnamon, and cook on low heat until done. If too thick, stir in more milk. Serve cool or warm with fruit sauce or fried fruit. Note: Vanilla, vanilla sugar or vanilla powder are also good for seasoning this.