My father was born in Klein-Auheim, a small village in Kreis Hanau near Frankfurt am Main in Hessen. When I was little, in the early 70s, we used to go visit his sister in law, Tante Erna, and my grandmother Oma Ott, who lived with her.  Whenever we would visit in spring or early summer, inevitably Oma would cook Grüne Soße.  When I was little I hated the stuff, preferring to eat the potatoes and hard boiled eggs which were served with it, but as I grew older I began to appreciate it.  Now it has been over 30 years since I last had a real Grüne Soße cooked by "a ordentlisch Hessisch Frau", and I miss it desperately.

Grüne Soße recipe:

  • 6 eggs
  • 500 grams potatoes
  • 0.5 teaspoons caraway
  • salt
  • 2 handfuls mixed herbs: borage, chervil, cress, parsley, burnet, sorrel, chive.  If you are in the Frankfurt area, simply ask your grocer for the "Grüne Soße Bündel"
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100 grams sour cream
  • 80 grams greek yoghurt (in Germany you would use Quark instead of the sour cream/yoghurt mix)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard, your preferred kind
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • black pepper

Put eggs in boiling water and boil them for 10 minutes.

Scrub, then peel potatoes and boil them together with the caraway in salted water for approximately 20 minutes.

Shock the eggs in cold water, then keep four eggs warm. Peel the others and cut in halves.

Clean the herbs, pat them dry and chop them very fine. Leave a few to garnish. Press the garlic.

Press the egg yolks from the cooled eggs through a sieve. Chop the egg-whites.

Stir the sour cream, yoghurt, yolks, mustard, garlic, oil and lemon juice together. Add the egg-whites and the herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Eat with the boiled potatoes and remaining eggs. Garnish with some herbs.


Of course, to get the proper Hessisch experience you need to pair this with some Ebbelwoi (Apfelwein/Apple Wine). In Germany, Ebbelwoi comes in exactly the same bottle as apple juice does, leading to some very nasty surprises on my part when I  THOUGHT I was grabbing some apple juice as a little kid.

Thinking of Grüne Soße I remember walking my Aunt's black poodle along the Main river bank, sleeping in the bed with my Aunt and Oma (they shared a bed), picking raspberries, strawberries and Mirabelle plums, the overpowering scent of lilacs and roses, the formal parlor where everyone sat to have Kaffee und Kuchen in the afternoon, waking up to the sound of church bells every morning...  I remember the dialect that sounded so funny to me, who had been raised with Hochdeutsch.  "Ach, Kindschen, iss doch noch a Stückschen, du wirst ja soooo dünn".  I remember the love.

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