German-Russian Soups are his Forte
Lewis, Gillespie Anne. "German-Russian Soups are his Forte." Star Tribune, 30
December 1999, T9.
Soup's on at Brungardt's house in St. Paul at least three times
a week, and soup is often the first course when Brungardt has dinner
guests. Although he makes a variety of soups from around the world,
he takes special pride in making soups that connect him with his
A long journey
Brungardt, his two brothers and two sisters were raised on a farm
in a west-central Kansas community populated mostly by people of
German-Russian heritage. They are descendants of Germans who settled
in Russia over a 100-year-period, beginning in 1763, having been
enticed there by Catherine the Great, who promised them free land,
religious freedom and other benefits. There were 100 colonies of
Germans in the Lower Volga River Valley, where the families of Brungardt's
parents settled. The Germans were fairly isolated from Russians,
speaking their own language and cooking their own specialties, although
many dishes became hybrids of both cuisines. Soup was a staple of
both cuisines, and when the German-Russians immigrated to the United
States in the late 19th century, their soups came with them.
Soup means home
The Brungardts grew up on soup, usually thick with beans, noodles,
dumplings, potatoes or vegetables. "We had soup all year-round,"
said Brungardt, who is an information officer for the Minnesota
Pollution Control Agency in St. Paul. "It was not unusual to have
soup at least once a day. And there is nothing better when you come
in from working in the cold and pull up to the table, and there
is a big bowl of soup to warm you up. And when I make soup now,
it reminds me of home." All the Brungardt children did field work
and helped in the kitchen on the farm. "My folks encouraged a lot
of independence and my mother always encouraged us - if we were
at all interested in cooking - to help her or make it ourselves."
A stint in the Navy, when he visited several countries as an officer
on a seagoing tugboat, broadened Brungardt's appetite for different
cuisines, but he kept coming back to his German-Russian roots.
Sei Unser Gast (Be Our Guest)
When the North Star chapter of the American Historical Society
of Germans from Russia decided to do a cookbook, Brungardt was the
editor. He contributed or tested at least a third of the book's
300-plus recipes, and, yes, there are soups - three dozen. The cookbook,
Sei Unser Gast, was a labor if love for Brungardt, and it
gave him a chance to explore his heritage more fully.
"I think people need to understand who they are and where they
Go easy on the salt until the final steps; you can always add
more to taste. Saute' chopped onions in a little shortening to give
them more flavor before adding to soup. Meat or poultry soups can
be thickened by adding an envelope of unflavored gelatin to the
broth; dissolve the gelatin in a little cold water first.
Thicken pureed cream soups by adding rice or potato, cooked until
it is nearly falling apart and then pureed.
Anne Gillespie Lewis is a Minneapolis freelance writer and
the author of the new "The Minnesota Guide."
Noodle and Bean Soup
This soup does not freeze well.
1 c. dry Great Northern or navy beans
2 c. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2/3 c. onion, chopped
2. tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
6 oz. (about 3 c.) thin egg noodles
1 c. cooked ham, cubed (optional)
1 c. cream or sour cream, or half of each
Pick beans over and put in medium saucepan. Cover with water
1 inch above the top of the beans. Bring beans to boil and boil
one minute. Turn off heat, cover and let stand at least one hour.
Return beans to heat and cook until tender, adding water if necessary
to keep beans covered. Drain, saving cooking liquid and adding enough
water to make 8 cups of liquid. Put liquid and beans in large soup
kettle. Add potatoes, onion, slat and pepper. Bring to the boil.
About 10 minutes after liquid begins to boil, add noodles and ham.
When the noodles are done, turn off heat and add cream. Season to
Nutrition information using ½ & ½ per serving:
Carbohydrates 38 g
Protein 14 g
Fat 6 g
including sat. fat 3 g
Cholesterol 39 mg
Sodium 855 mg
Calcium 97 mg
Dietary fiber 5 g
|Sam Brungardt standing in his basement cellar
with jars of pickled fruit, watermelon syrup, jam and vegetables.
||Sam preparing the dough for Runza, a Volga
German food (Bierrocks, Kraut Brot or Maultsche).