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Hochzeitssuppe literally translates to "wedding soup." It is a chicken broth based soup traditionally served at German wedding receptions. The soup is typically served as the first course of the reception dinner, and can be found at nearly every wedding in Germany. Hochzeitssuppe is so popular that it can be found, in slightly varying forms, in all regions of Germany, a country famous for its regional differences and specialties.
Brautsuppe, meaning "bride's soup," was originally served at weddings in some regions of Germany. It has since been replaced by hochzeitssuppe. One well-known regional variety is Westfaliche Hochzeitssuppe, taking its name from the region of Westphalia. The principal difference between Westfaliche Hochzeitssuppe and the hochzeitssuppe served in other parts of the country is that it is traditionally prepared with beef broth as opposed to a chicken based broth.
While popular at weddings, hochzeitssuppe is not generally eaten at other times. One reason could be to uphold the tradition of it being served at weddings, but this is also due to the fact that it is quite time consuming to prepare. In order to make the broth, chicken meat and bones, along with the spices, must be cooked for several hours.
The parts of the chicken which are most often used in recipes are the back, neck, and wings. Spices nearly always include celery, parsley, and onions. Bay leaves and cloves are often used as well.
The appearance of the broth is fairly clear, and the soup contains spiral egg noodles. Amongst the noodles; meatballs, carrots, peas, and parsley are also added to provide flavor and texture. Depending on the region, asparagus can also be an important ingredient.
Sometimes, when a family does not have time before the wedding to prepare the broth, it is purchased from a supermarket or restaurant. This way, they can still have a hand in the soup preparation, but with the broth already made, it takes far less time to prepare. Additionally, the familiar taste of the broth can be assured when it is made professionally. After acquiring the broth, the soup maker need only add any of the traditional meat and vegetables that they desire, and the soup is ready after minimal cooking time.
Hochzeitssuppe is sometimes made with raisins in addition to the rest of the typical ingredients. In other cases, the traditional bread that accompanies the soup is raisin bread. The motivation behind the addition of raisins is to add a touch of sweetness to the flavor profile while simultaneously enhancing the texture of the soup. Other versions of hochzeitssuppe include dumplings.