SLOW COOKER: German Barley Soup (Graupensuppe)

Sliced bratwurst, root vegetables, herbs, and broth come together all day in the slow cooker

Before fall arrives, Colorado usually has a day or two of winter just to keep us on our toes. Luckily he came; he went. Old man winter, you know.

Our snow lasted one day. The next night, rain began and washed it all away. Loving the moisture out here.

And even though the days are warm and sunny again, we know fall’s here or just around the proverbial corner. Nights are chilly, plants aren’t really growing anymore and the bite has gone out of the sun even at midday.

Pike’s Peak — taken from our front yard

The storm left snow on the peak, a cool harbinger of things to come. I began thinking of warmer dinners. Long-simmering braises and stews. Days when the oven could stay on for hours and hours without heating up the house. It began to feel like my kind of weather. If you’re wondering — yes, our smoke is coming back today, but is nothing like what California, Washington, and Oregon are breathing. We’ll close the house up tight tonight and leave the air conditioning on — something a lot of folks out west can’t do as many don’t have AC as it’s, in the past anyway, seldom needed.

Somewhere in the midst of all this weathering change, I was going through a slough of printed recipes looking for some a friend had requested. (How is it I have so much on paper when we have these computers?) I came across one for a German Barley Soup by German chef Klaus Weiler in SAVEUR magazine (November, 2011) from an article called, “The Art of Soup” by Beth Kracklauer. I had saved it for some reason, but had no idea why. It kept perking up in my mind, though, and while Chef Weiler’s soup is fairly simple, even elegant, and definitely quick for a fall soup, I had other thoughts. More veggies. Or different ones, cut a little larger. Additional herbs. A tad more meat. A slow cooker would be nice if it would work. Not everything works in a slow cooker. Well, you know that about me; I mostly like a dutch oven for slow cooking. One of the things that came to me was how fun it would be to have something else to make with brats after only grilling them for ad infinitum. I know. And 3 brats are a lot less expensive than a pot roast for say, beef barley soup. Less expensive is a good deal.

Despite having lived in Germany for two years in my 30’s with my family, and hence having a deep respect for German cuisine, I didn’t know this soup. My German cooking chops, in fact, are decidedly lacking. Time to change that a little and anyway, I needed dinner ready immediately after teaching a FaceTime piano lesson with my granddaughter. Why not figure this thing out right away? While I seldom do, I wrote the entire recipe before I made the soup. Which was maybe my first mistake.

below: what my recipes look like if you print them from facebook (I do clean them up first.)

one version of many!

UPDATE: SOUP TESTING ( 10/9/20): 6 testers got their results to me and I rewrote the recipe after reviewing everyone’s much appreciated comments. I think the resulting soup is quite improved and…I couldn’t have done it without you. Imagine eating 10 pots of barley soup! The revised soup is below for printing now. You guys rock. XXOO.

I edited it all day long as the soup cooked and still am editing it as I work here! No matter because by the time dinnertime arrived, I couldn’t wait to eat this meal since the aromas filled the house. I’d love for you to try my slow cooker version of this delicious, unique Graupensuppe and, if you send me your thoughts afterward, I’d really appreciate it. It’s unlike a lot of soups you’ve ever eaten and that is only one of its praises I sing. You know all the flavors: brats, onions, root vegetables, thyme, barley….but you don’t know them cooked together! I typically test my own recipes as needed, but we don’t need another slow cooker full of barley soup right now. There are other reasons, too, why I’d like for others to give this a test run. For instance, it would be good to have the soup tested in another brand of slow cooker. I have a 6-qt. All Clad. I’d like it if someone at sea level or at least lower than 6,500 feet would make it. Let me know if you use different ingredients and why –didn’t have turnips/don’t like leeks — and so on. Did it still work in the end? Did you season more? Less? Was the soup’s texture and thickness to your liking? Would you add more or less liquid? Did you try it for 8 hours on slow instead of 5-6 on high? Leave responses in the comments on this post or email me or even comment on the fb or instagram or twitter post. I’ll be waiting with bated breath to hear from you. I’ll then try it again and maybe edit the recipe one last time! Phew. Well? Get cooking!

Yes, of course I snuck a piece of brat.
I used the food processor for the onion, leeks, and celery and cut the carrots, potato, and turnip by hand.
Throw it all in the slow cooker and stir before starting cooking. I give it a first taste for salt, etc., at this point, too.
A little more than half-way through cooking, the soup was too thick; I added two cups hot water, which is now included in the amount of water for the recipe. You might still need a little more depending on how fast your slow cooker cooks on HIGH. This is the finished soup.

Slow Cooker German Barley Soup (Graupensuppe)– REVISED 10/9/20

Here’s a meal for Sunday Slow Cooker days or any time you need a filling and tummy-warming dinner without having spent a whole day in the kitchen. While this might not be a totally authentic version of a favorite eintopf (one pot) meal Oma made, it’s close enough for me and maybe it’ll be close enough for you. A piece or two of vollkorn (whole grain) or rye bread toasted and smeared with butter or even butterkäse (a mild and buttery German cheese) would be my choice of side. Guten Appetit!
8-10 servings


  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 4 (4-ounce) links of bratwurst cut into ½-inch coins, (1 pound)
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley – well-rinsed
  • 1 EACH: medium yellow onion, turnip, and potato — peeled and cut into small dice
  • 2 Fat, plump cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts-peeled and chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery with leaves cut into small dice
  • 3 medium carrots – peeled and cut into small dice or sliced into coins if carrots are skinny
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage, optional
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons EACH: dried marjoram and dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 shakes Tabasco — or to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg — garnish for serving
  • Minced fresh parsley — garnish for serving


  • Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add bratwurst coins and brown; turn and brown other side. Needn’t be done all the way through. Tip the browned wurst and any fat in the pan, barley, onion, turnip, potato, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots, cabbage, broth, water, tomato paste, salt, marjoram, thyme, black pepper, bay leaf, and Tabasco into a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir. Taste for salt. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. When done, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with freshly grated nutmeg and minced parsley. Pass the pepper grinder at the table. (When reheating, may need to thin soup with broth or water.)


COOK’S NOTES/OPTIONS: In a hurry? Throw the vegetables or some of them, even, into a food processor and chop all together, being careful not to mince them. No turnip? Use another potato or parsnip. No marjoram? Sub ½ teaspoon dried oregano or another teaspoon of thyme. Don’t like leeks? Use an extra ½ cup onion. If you’d like, you can add a piece or two of chopped cooked bacon. No brats? A cup and a half of diced smoked ham would work instead. If by chance you used smoked brats, do add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil to the soup as the fresh brats have quite a bit more fat.
copyright Alyce Morgan, 2020.  All rights reserved.

Recipe/Post for Almost (Better than) Scratch Beef-Barley Soup


5 Slow Cooker Mistakes and How to Fix Them/MYRECIPES.COM

The Best Slow Cookers/FOOD AND WINE

27 Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes/KITCHN

Read a Graupensuppe recipe in German/CHEFKOCH

How to pronounce “graupensuppe”


Recipe/Post for Green Chile-Turkey Gravy on Cornmeal Cheddar Waffles with a Fried Egg

Bringing in the herbs before the snow.


Neighborhood boys come over for a snack.

Doesn’t look like much now, but come January, this is gold.

Down the street from us. Garden of the Gods in the Snow.

I pray there’s moisture and a chill in the air where you are — especially if you live west of me.

I pray there’s a meeting of the minds for a path forward in our country. That we stop yelling we’re on the right side instead of admitting we need one another.

I pray for health and a vaccine. You?

… … … … …

In the meantime, cook some graupensuppe and tell me about it.

Vielen Dank, mein Freunde, (many thanks, my friend)


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