In Innsbruck once we spent hours driving round looking for a hotel. Our usual default option of cheap and cheerful etap hotels didn’t extend to Austria, and we certainly hadn’t done something so sensible as research or book an overnight stay. Our travel habits tend to be less than predictable so that is usually impossible or inadvisable anyway. By the time we eventually found somewhere, several arguments later, we were grumpy and very, very hungry. Austria had thwarted our usually infallible “if you were a hotel, where would you be?” approach to navigation.
Looking at the menu in the hotel restaurant I was starting to get even more grumpy. The waitress had clearly clocked my foul mood and given me the English menu, and the starter choice was either some fat drenched deep fried monstrosity, or…. I kid you not, pancake soup. The concept struck me as ridiculous and stupid – though I’m happy to accept that my frame of mind was likely to blame for that.
When it turned up, it was basically chicken stock with strips of pancake floating in it, along with some chopped chives. Glistening gobs of some kind of oil (probably butter or chicken fat) floated on top. And, it was delicious.
It turns out that this is a classic Austrian dish called Frittaten Suppe, traditionally made with leftover cold pancakes – by which I mean proper pancakes, the skinny flat ones we make in Britain, not the chubby American version.
What follows is a recipe written in a similar style to how I tend to follow and/or interpret recipes, so bear with me.
1. Pancakes, preferably a few hours old at least, but I’m sure you can make then specially. I imagine it would be ok anyway but chilling them first may be a little more purist. Make them with butter!
2. Chives, preferably freshly snipped from the plant.
3. Chicken stock or broth or soup or similar. Ideally clear like consomme or perfect homemade stock if you’re more blissfully domestic than me. I bet vegetable stock would be more than adequate, especially if it has lots of celery flavour infused into it. Just don’t use a nasty tin of nasty soup.
Roll up your pancakes. Maybe use one per person. Or two. Two or three would probably be best and most generous, but it depends on the pancake:broth ratio you’re after. Obviously.
So, take the rolled up wodge of pancakes, and slice across thinly to give you several skinny strips, say half to three quarters of a centimetre wide. Place these in the bottom of your bowls.
Heat your broth/stock/soup through, and when happy that its ready for consumption, snip in a good lot of chives. Season if appropriate. Pour this liquid into the bowls on top of the pancake strips.
Enjoy. If your experience is anything like my first Frittaten Suppe then expect your mood to raise dramatically.