Schwaben are a different kind of people. They work hard, are labeled rude, grumpy and cheap. They obsess over rituals like the “Kehrwoche” (lit. translation: “sweeping week”). It means that the house, stairs to the house and sidewalk are swept and cleaned once a week, usually on Saturday. And if you live in a village in Schwaben, you better know that your neighbors will talk, if you do not keep to that ritual. Schwäbisch people love their cars (Mercedes and Porsche are both from Schwabenland) and they are whip smart inventors. The first automobile was invented here. And the first astronomical telescope. And the relativity theory (Einstein was from Schwabenland)... and Linsen mit Spätzle. 

Linsen und Spätzle is another poor mans food that is very popular in Schwaben. Back in the day, meat was too expensive for most families in Schwaben, since cattle were hard to raise on the stoney pastures of the Alps. But lentils were cheap, often grown on bad soils and easy to store through the winter. Linsen und Spätzle is one of my families favorite meals when it gets cold outside. They are tart, served with a small carafe of vinegar to make them even more tart if desired. And they are so creamy, filling and comforting. The weather is getting cold with glorious golden fall days, cold nights and foggy mornings. And I am so happy to be home. 

  • 14oz. large brown lentils (like marrow or lenticche verdi)
  • Several small onions
  • 7oz. smoked bacon
  • 2 small carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of clarified butter or schmalz
  • 4 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • vegetable broth
  • 2 laurel leaves
  • red wine vinegar to taste
  • 4-6 hotdogs

Wash and soak your lentils in plain water for at least an hour or overnight. Finely chop the onions. Cut your bacon into small cubes. The bacon is kept whole in traditional recipes, but I think it adds more flavor and is easier to deal with when it is just diced and fried. Peal and dice your carrots into small cubes. 

Melt the butter or schmalz in a heavy stock pot over medium high heat. Fry the onions, bacon and carrots until the onions are translucent. Sprinkle the flour over the frying vegetables and bacon and stir around to fry the flour until it is completely incorporated and starting to stick to the bottom of the pot. Let it brown just a little to build the color of your sauce, then add the vegetable broth while stirring vigorously to deglaze the pot.

Add the soaked lentils and turn down the heat to medium low. Add the laurel leaves, a pinch of salt and a large dash of vinegar and bring the lentils to a low simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes until the lentils are soft and the sauce is creamy. Add more vegetable broth if needed. Do not let the lentils come to a rapid boil as their protein will change and make them hard. Add the sausages when the lentils are almost done. Season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar. Serve over homemade Spätzle (or whatever pasta you desire) and place a carafe of vinegar on the dinner table. We like our lentils quite tart and more vinegar makes the lentils easier to digest.