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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.