Another dish to celebrate Fasnacht, here is the warm and bready Basler Mehlsuppe.
The most common origin story involves an chatty cook who burnt the flour for the soup during preparation. Instead of starting again, the mistake was added to the dish and met with great success.
Browning the flour does add a depth of flavour, but the way it is browned depends on the recipe. There are countless methods of doing this, some recipes suggest browning the flour first, either in the pan or in the oven, or you can add the flour directly to the butter and brown them together.
I tried both methods, browning the flour first, using this Betty Bossi recipe, and browning the flour with the butter, using this recipe. In my experience, the depth of flavour was stronger when the butter and flour were browned together—not to mention the fact that I totally scorched my first batch when I tried to brown the flour alone in the pan. Burnt flour is a horrible smell.
There are so many different recipes and methods, but one thing is certain—you don't celebrate Fasnacht in Basel without a steaming bowl of this soup.
60 g flour
50 g clarified butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
100 ml red wine
1 L stock
salt and pepper
grated hard cheese to garnish
Melt the butter in the pan and when it is bubbling, add the flour. Whisk together well and keep whisking and browning over medium heat until the mixture is a deep, chestnut brown. This will take up to 15 minutes.
Once your flour mixture has reached the ideal colour, add the onion and garlic and cook for a minute. Then pour in the wine, and whisk well. Once that has been incorporated, add the stock and bring to a boil, whisking well. There should be no clumps.
At this point, the soup is usually left on the burner on very low heat and cooked for another couple of hours to further develop its flavour. You could also serve it right away.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with grated cheese.
- In Switzerland, clarified butter is Bratbutter, easily bought in the supermarket. This allows you to cook at a higher temperature because the milk solids that burn easily have been removed. The easiest alternative to this is the Indian Ghee, also clarified butter, and readily available at Asian shops. You can also make your own.
- Serve with Fastenwähe.