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 | By Michelle DiFranco

Soup to Soothe Our Souls

German potato soup in honor of St. Gertrude

Throughout much of the country, by the time November arrives the trees have lost their leaves and a backdrop of brown and gray fills the skyline. I can’t help but find a correlation between the November landscape and the many ways the Church remembers the dead at this time of year.

November is dedicated to the holy souls in purgatory. All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day both fall this month, and on Nov. 16 we celebrate the feast day of a great saint who advocates for the poor souls in purgatory. St. Gertrude the Great, a 13th-century mystic, was born on Jan. 6, 1256, in Eisleben, Germany. A Benedictine nun, her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and love for the holy souls in purgatory earned her that title of “the Great.” 

St. Gertrude received a vision in which Jesus promised her that 1,000 souls would be released from purgatory upon recitation of the following prayer:

“Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.”

While death saddens us, we know that through Christ’s redemption and the purifying process of purgatory we can find comfort in the hope for salvation.

Just as we can find comfort to buoy our spirits as we remember those who have died, we can also find ways to combat November’s darkness and cold. For me, November is a prelude to winter, when my excitement for making comfort food kicks in. And there is nothing better than a steaming bowl of hot soup on a cold November evening to warm the body.

A hearty recipe like the German potato soup featured here feels particularly appropriate for the cold days of winter. While there are endless robust soup options out there, this particular recipe originates from the same part of Germany St. Gertrude called home.

“There is nothing better than a steaming bowl of hot soup on a cold November evening to warm the body.”

Michelle DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of three children.

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Sächsische Kartoffelsuppe (German Potato Soup)

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4-5)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7-8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Finely chopped green onions for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the celery, carrots and potatoes and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add the chicken broth and chopped parsley to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cover with lid.

Simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Puree with an immersion blender until mostly smooth and creamy (or add contents to a regular blender to puree and return back to pot). If the soup is too thick, add more chicken broth for desired consistency.

Add heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste (and optional nutmeg) and cook for an additional 7-10 minutes. Top off with chopped green onions or sliced German sausage.