Once again, my adventures with my favorite Schwabe have led me to eating traditional southern comfort food. Lentils and Spätzle. Which, by the way, is actually the national dish of the Swabian region in southern Germany (which some people, one in particular, who I happen to live with, likes to refer to as North Italy – pleeease. Nice try. You’re not Italian and those things you call mountains, they are actually hills!).
Accompanied by string sausages (which I don’t do – ever – and I’m not even sure what kind of sausages) is an absolute classic dish that doesn’t look particularly pretty, but it’s absolutely delicious with the added bonus: this one wins over kids too!
We usually used packaged Spätzle, dry or fresh (egg noodles also work well) but traditionally its served with homemade Spätzle which is incomparably fluffy and delicious and definitely worth the effort of making at home — just once!
If you do decide to serve this lentil stew as they do in Germany, with sausages, then don’t forget to put mustard on the table for extra seasoning!
The bacon in the recipe is only used to flavor the lentils, so you can either discard it before serving or cut the meat from the fatty portion and add it back to the lentil stew. I pick up 2 thick slabs of bacon from the butcher for this, alternatively you can use pork belly.
German Lentil Stew with Spaetzle (Spätzle)
1 cup dried brown lentils (250 g) (I recommend German Berg Lentils or Bernsteinlinsen)
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
250 g bacon strips (preferably organic)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dry white or red wine (125 ml)
2 cups beef broth (500 ml)
1 tablespoon (or more) mild vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), or more to taste
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
serve with 400 g Spätzle of your choice
1. In a large deep skillet, add the lentils, carrots, onions, bay leaves and bacon. Add the wine and broth; stir to combine.
2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, use this time to prepare the Spätzle, whether fresh or packaged.
3. If serving with sausages, add the sausages, either whole or cut into slices and keep the lentils on medium heat. Cook for another 5–10 minutes until the sausages are warmed through. If needed, add a little more water. The consistency should be like a thick stew.
4. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves and bacon strips before serving. Enjoy!