In the last few weeks of September and the first few of October, the city of Munich holds a festival called Oktoberfest. The calendar is adjusted each year so that the festival will end on the first Sunday of October and this year is the 200th jubilee of the event. Revellers gather and enjoy hearty dishes ranging from sausages to sauerkraut and copious amounts of bier. The event is so popular that cities around the world hold celebrations to mark the occasion. I find that this recipe is best suited for any type of beer and would recommend using your favourite drop, as you are predisposed to already prefer the taste of the soup. I made the version depicted below with a light beer, Pure Blonde to be exact, and instantly wish I had used a stout to capitalise upon it’s sweet caramely flavours. It is also possible to swap the lemon juice with a preferred white wine. I have read other recipes that suggest this is a good way to achieve the light touch from the acidity.

Heinrich Kühn, Still Life with Steins, c.1900
gum-bichromate pigment print, 29.8 x 39.7 cm

Heinrich Kühn worked in the late 19th and early 20th century as a photographer and pioneered the use of many new technologies including gummigravüe and syngraphie. Kühn, along with George H. Seeley and Edward Steichen continued using photographs to depict other forms of art, which was popular in the late 19th century. They used the mechanical image to create painterly effects and developed darkroom techniques that combined with the use of a soft-focus lens, gave their prints the look of a charcoal drawing. Kühn often employed a language of iconography that was deeply personal and was one of the first artists to capitalize upon the expressive qualities of the medium (1). His distinct blur aesthetic is present in Still Life with Steins, giving the highlights upon the glass and metal the appearance of dabs of paint, similar to the visual approach of the Impressionist painters he admired.

Celebrations in Köln, Germany & the bell tower at Oktoberfest in Frakenmuth, Michigan


{Beer Soup with Cheddar & Mustard Croutons}

adapted from the Octoberfest Cookbook

1 litre of beer
2 ½ TB butter
1 ½ TB flour
½ tsp cinnamon
1 TB sugar
2 egg yolks
½ c milk
½ lemon, juiced
spring onion, thinly sliced
1 baguette, sliced
grainy mustard
cheddar cheese, grated

Open the beer and pour into a bowl. Let sit for 2 hours until it becomes flat.

In a pot, brown the flour in the butter forming a roux. Slowly add the beer, cinnamon and sugar and bring to a boil. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, milk and lemon juice. Remove the beer from the heat and while it is still hot (but not boiling) quickly stir in the milk, whisking until combined to keep the egg yolks from curdling.

Slice a baguette and spread grainy mustard over one side. Lay out on a pan and top with the grated cheese. Slide under the broiler until the cheese is golden and bubbling and the baguette has toasted.

Serve the beer soup with the toasted baguette croutons and a sprinkle of spring onion rings.