Recipes from the “Kriegskochbuch” (war cookbook), 1915

The following recipes are from a German “war cookbook” of 1915. The idea behind this cookbook was to provide options for simple, cheap meals, with ingredients obtainable in austere wartime conditions. These recipes were not created from nothing in 1915, and they did not diappear afterward- they are rooted in German traditional cuisine, and simple meals like this were served before WWI and also during the depression, in WWII, and beyond.

All recipes serve 4 portions.

Cabbage Soup

One small head Savoy cabbage or white cabbage
2 tbsp. fat
4 tbsp. flour
1-1/2 ltr. water
Pinch of pepper, salt

Clean cabbage, cut in strips, wash. Heat the fat, add cabbage and braise. Sprinkle with flour, stir well, add water and boil 1-1/2 to 2 hours, to taste.

Pickle Soup

1 small pickle or 1/2 a large pickle
2 tbsp. fat
4 tbsp. flour
1-1/2 ltr. water
1-2 tbsp. vinegar, salt

Make a roux of fat and flour, slowly add water. When boiling, add diced pickle. Add salt and vinegar to taste.

Sauerkraut Soup

As pickle soup above, instead of pickle use sauerkraut.

Carrot Soup

3 large carrots
1 small onion
2 tbsp. fat
4 tbsp. flour
1-1/2 ltr. water from cooking carrots
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. sugar, salt

Peel the carrots, cut into small pieces, cook until done then push them through a strainer. Cook fat, onions and flour together, then pour in the carrot water. Add carrots, boil well, season with salt, parsley and sugar. If desired, you can replace half the carrots with potatoes; just use 1 less tablespoon of flour.

Baked carrot and potato dumplings

2 lbs. potatoes
2 lbs. carrots
2 tbsp. milk
salt, pepper
60 grams fat

For the sauce:
1 tbsp. fat
2 tbsp. flour
3/8 ltr. water from cooking the carrots, salt
1 tbsp. parsley, a little sugar

Boil the potatoes and carrots and push them through a strainer. Mix with salt and pepper, then form dumplings. Press them a bit flat, and fry in a frying pan until brown. To make the sauce, fry the flour and fat until yellow, pour in the carrot water, and bring to a boil. Season with salt, sugar and parsley.

Wehrmacht recipe – “Borschtsch” (Russian National Dish)

Last weekend Sicherungs-Regiment 195 participated in the annual Ostfront reenactment in Haydenville, Massachusetts. We issued 24 hours’ worth of cold rations on Friday evening and then gave out warm rations on Saturday night. For the warm rations we wanted to recreate something that might have been made in a Wehrmacht field kitchen. To fit with the Ostfront setting, we picked a dish from the cookbook “”├ľstliche Speisen nach deutscher Art” (Eastern Meals in German Style),  a collection of recipes collected by the Oberkommando des Heeres and intended for issue to troops serving in the occupied Eastern areas.

Borscht (Borschtsch in German) is a traditional soup made with beets, cabbage and potatoes that is popular in many Central and Eastern European regions. This Wehrmacht recipe is simple, hearty and delicious.

Russian National Dish

120g pork (pickled or smoked meat is preferred)
350g potatoes
350g white cabbage
500g red beets
15g fresh onions
20g fat or oil
Salt, dill leaves, coriander, soup herbs

Boil the meat and remove it.
Peel and dice the potatoes, slice the cabbage into strips, cook them in the broth.
Roast the onions in the hot oil.
Clean, peel and dice the beets and braise them in broth.
At the end, combine the ingredients, season to taste.

Note: The red beets can never be cooked together with the cabbage and potatoes because the beets will dye the other vegetables and make the food look unappetizing.
In place of part of the red beets, carrots or yellow turnips can be used. Yellow turnips can be cooked together with the beets. The meal can also be thickened with a roux.”

In the field we have no means of refrigeration, which limits use of fresh ingredients. For the pork, we used sausage in a glass jar. We utilized canned beets and potatoes, fresh cabbage and dill. Knorr bouillon cubes seasoned the broth.