semolina dumpling soup

My German grandmother never made mazto ball soup with chicken stock, or so my mother tells me. In fact, she never made chicken stock at all. Compared to beef stock, chicken stock’s flavor paled, she felt, so why use it?

forgot to buy celery

After our central European vacation, I can see that she’s not alone. We didn’t find one restaurant in Prague or Vienna that didn’t have some version of a beef consomme soup on the menu–all extremely dark and abundantly flavorful. I found this a great relief, as soup was a wonderful way to offset the heaviness of available cuisine, and also absurdly delicious, as I never knew that simple brothy soups could be so tasty.

bones and stuff

And you’ll have to bear with me, as I know it is probably not soup season where you are, but between New York’s rainy 55 degrees yesterday and the bad cold Alex and I have passed back and forth in the last eight days, it sure was needed here.


Our first night in Vienna, we went to an almost-perfect restaurant (amazing food but then a wait staff that wouldn’t so much as bring us more wine, such travesty!) where I was given an option of noodles, vegetables or semolina dumplings in my soup. A dumpling-obsessive, as you might know, I had no choice to opt for the latter and ended up eating the most delicious first cousin of matzo ball soup.

semolinasemolina dumplings

I couldn’t wait to try it at home, and was thrilled to find that both the soup and the dumplings are remarkably simple to make. I wouldn’t have minded not have a reason to make soup last week, but I certainly couldn’t complain about the results.

semolina dumpling soup

One year ago: Cellophane Noodle Salad with Roast Pork

A new thing: I finally got around to making one of those Amazon things for the sidebar that tells you all of the Amazon things I love. Except, I didn’t tell you all of them, I just told you the things that I feel are essential to the Smitten Kitchen Experience, or my very favorite items. You’ll see things like the eensiest cookie scoop in the world, something that took me more than a year of hunting to find and then one day just appeared before my very own eyes on Amazon! Had it been there the whole time? I’ll never know. (Bonus hint: You can use this scoop to make the Homemade Oreo cookies bake into the size of original Oreos, and yes, this makes me sooo happy.) You’ll also see the cookie cutters I just used for the Brownie Roll-Out Cookies and the cake pan that I used to make the Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake, which even though it was the all wrong pan to use, I think think it is wonderful for a ton of other pretty one-layer plus something-something cakes. I’ll add to it as items come up in recipes, but for now I’ve kept it simple.

Next up: Lots and lots of ideas for your Memorial Day weekend parties and barbecues.

Semolina Dumpling Soup

I relied on Julia Child’s basic meat stock recipe using beef marrow bones and a couple vegetables and herbs, and an afternoon at home with a bottle of decongestants to get it done, and ended up reducing it by one-fourth at the end, just to get a pronounced flavor. It was worth every moment (uh, of me watching The Martha Show, taking a nap) and the rest will be perfect to freeze for the colder months to come.

As if rewarding you for your “hard work: with the stock, the dumplings take no time at all.

Beef Stock
(Recipe coming shortly!)

Semolina Dumplings

Makes enough for four soup servings

2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semolina
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped parsley or chives (optional)

Bring the water, butter and salt to boil over a moderate heat. Add the semolina, and stir until the semolina forms a ball and starts to come away from the sides of the saucepan. (This will take only seconds.)
Transfer to a bowl and don’t panic if you have a solid mass. Break it into smaller bits with a wooden spoon, add the parmesan, egg and herbs if using and stir firmly until the mixture is smooth. The lumps will smooth out.

Bring a pot of salted water or broth to a simmer, and spoon in small balls of dumpling mixture. If you’d like, you can wet your hands and roll the scoops of semolina dough into more perfect rounds. (The restaurant we’d gone to spooned though into those almond/crescent shapes chefs are so good at. The spoons laughed at me when I tried this.)

Allow to cook for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dumplings float. They’re now ready to serve.

To Assemble

1 carrot, peeled, cut into short, fat matchsticks
1 parsnip, peeled, cut the same as the carrot
Few tablespoons snipped chives

Once your stock is ready, add the carrots and parnsips and simmer them until they’re almost cooked, about five minutes. You can make the dumplings while you wait. Once everything is cooked, garnish (or forget to, in our case) and serve quickly.

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53 comments on semolina dumpling soup

  1. I’ll have to try the semolina dumplings – this Southerner has never had that kind before! And I was hoping you’d pass along a beef-broth recipe, because the canned stuff is so metallic-tasting to me. America’s Test Kitchen says that you can always subsitute chicken for beef if using store-bought, for that very reason. But homemade? Always best!

    Hope you guys are back to 100% soon! (It’s almost JUNE. It has to warm up eventually, right?)

  2. I have so much love for the deep color of your broth. It’s absolutely gorgeous. And I like that you reduced it by half to intensify the flavor. And the semolina sounds so interesting! Despite the rising temps here in California, I’m going to have to get my hands on some of this beautiful soup. Feel better!

  3. Semolina dumplings sound perfect. It’s a little hotter in California, like Joy mentioned, but that won’t stop me from making the dumplings. Who knows, they might work really well along a salad or veggies.

  4. Kim

    What I wouldn’t do for a bowl of that exquisite looking soup right now. I have been locked up in the house sick for over 6 days and that looks like it would get me over the hump and well again. Warm weather or not, always up for a bowl of soup.

  5. MissAnna

    As it’s jumping between 50 and 80 here in Seattle, soup sounds like a definite possibility for dinner :-) One possible request for you…we spent a few days in Prague last year and couldn’t get enough of the garlic soup. Is this something you tried in Prague? Any chance of gracing us with a recipe?

  6. I’m in Florida and it’s never soup season here but it doesn’t matter… I make soup at least once a week. It’s a comfort thing for me. Gorgeous shots as always.

  7. Melissa

    Mmm, soup. I live near Chicago and it’s been cold at night, still. And it’s only supposed to be 55 tomorrow. *sigh* I made tortilla soup this week with my leftover roast chicken so I guess it’s still soup weather for some of us. :) This looks good and I can’t wait for the broth recipe. I need a good beef broth that’s not too salty to try and recreate this gnocchi with pancetta I had at a restaurant in town.

  8. judy gal

    When I clicked on the link to the cookie cutters, I got the cake pan… is my
    clicker confused??
    thanks…Judy Gal

  9. If I didn’t have pink eye (result of my non-ending cold), i would make this for myself in a heartbeat. Funny, but my grandmother on my mother’s side, always wonders herself why make a chicken stock when a beef one is just that must better? I have tons of semolina flour too – would have been a great soup to make.

  10. It’s soup weather here in the Boston area today, and this recipe looks like the perfect cure for the grey, damp exterior we must endure. Thanks for the “warm me up”


  11. Momcat

    Will that broth gel when chilled? Nothing better on a hot Texas afternoon that a bowl of consomme with a little lemon or sherry.

  12. deb

    Hi Momcat — Mine did, a bit. I think almost all fresh meat broths do when they are cold, because of their gelatin content from the marrow. (Food scientists out there, please correct me if I’m wrong!). However, as soon is it even looks at heat, it liquefies again.

  13. The semolina dumplings are more than interesting to me. I’m very used to the texture of matzo balls and am totally game to give this a try with the beef broth.

  14. I am in Eastern Europe right now (Slovakia this week, next week Budapest, then Croatia) and am so excited about dumplings everywhere. I’m staying with my boyfriends family who have taught me how to make dumplings, which I am excited to get home and experiament with, but I am wondering, if we have 2 days in a city, should we go to Prague or Vienna? I’m interested in both, but which did you like better?

  15. deb

    Hi Jill — Personally, I found Prague to be prettier, in the old pastel-hued buildings sense, but I liked Vienna a lot more. In fact, I’ve talked about it almost non-stop (my friends are beginning to roll their eyes) since I’ve been back, how much fun the city is, lively, clean and how I loved the cafes everywhere, filled at all hours. And the food. Yes, so it’s really about what you’re personally into, but I guess we know where my vote goes!

  16. Dumplings and beef broth. Yes and yes. I’ve been making some pretty sexy chicken stock lately, so I think I’m ready to graduate to beef. Even though the weather is FINALLY beautiful, I will make this soon…and in the mean time I will make that lovely pork and glass noodle salad from 1 year ago. Thanks!

  17. Libitina

    I love semolina in places other than pasta! Also, discovering homemade stock has greatly improved my quality of life. But I still have not mastered a beef stock. Best recipe tells me that this is because it requires a lot of beef (and bones) to make good stock, but in my head stock is also a cheap thing.

    So I’m rather fascinated to hear other people’s beef stock recipe, but since I’ve been reading in reverse order it looks like you never got back to it. Did I miss it? If not, please add that to things you could write about come fall and winter.


  18. I’m really pumped to try these dumplings, since it’s now soup-and-dumpling season, but there’s still no beef broth recipe *a very sad face.* Can you please post it soon?

  19. e

    hi deb,
    i wanted to express my great excitement that you’re a dumpling fanatic! i’ve had a few mishaps trying to make dumplings so i’m stoked to try these; your recipes are always pretty foolproof. i also wanted to ask you to comment on stock making in general- any tips on how or why to strain the fat off, and so forth? a smitten kitten crash course on the basics would be much appreciated! and to second the above commenter…single tear that there’s no beef broth recipe up yet. =)

  20. Susan

    omg! … these look just like the ones my Dad used to make me when I was a kid.

    I’m gonna try this out… if i can find some semolina over here in Korea @_@

    delicious pics. taking me back~

  21. Vroni

    These dumplings are great!!!!!winter is coming here in Sydney and a vegie soup with these dumplings is just awesome…
    Thank you…I am smitten

  22. Leslie

    Deb, this does look amazing, and perfect for western climes where the snow just won’t stop (calendar check, yes it is mid april why do I expect daffodils?).
    But PLEASE insert the beef stock. I don’t know jack about meat, but am willing to try making the stock.

  23. Selwa

    I know I have a problem with procrastinating, but 3 1/2 years and still no recipe for the beef stock? C’mon Deb, it’s getting cold enough here in NYC! I wanna make this soup! Please? Pretty please?

  24. Liz

    These are awesome! And so easy! Any suggestions for some vegetarian, or even non-soup, ways to enjoy these dumplings? They worked well enough in a thinish pumpkin/pepper soup I made tonight, but I’d love to try them other ways too, since they are so quick and delicious.

  25. Zoey M.

    I hate to rush you after your recent post about how you will not be rushed, but do you think you could post the recipe for the beef broth? I’m having my wisdom teeth removed and I need a bowl of this brothy goodness to help me recover.

  26. Deb!
    Greetings from Australia, where the weather at the moment is cold and miserable and I’m suffering from a revolting headcold…
    I am an avid supporter and follower of this blog of yours and have just finished a huge bowl of your semolina dumpling soup. Well, I say “your” soup but due to the fact that I’m vegetarian and am in need of some “soupy cold remedy”, I altered it a bit! Hope you don’t mind?
    We have a brand of stock here called “massel”, which is suitable for vegans. I used the “beef” version for the soup, added fresh chopped chilli, chopped leeks, chopped garlic and some home grown silver beet. It is/was delicious! And I think I can feel my cold getting better already!!
    Thanks for a great blog, I’m planning on cooking your vege version of bourguignon tomorrow night.

    1. deb

      Heheh. Quite overdue. Here is *roughly* how I make beef stock and yes, I agree, this needs to be properly written up one of these decades. I’ll get about 4 pounds of bones (usually still a little meat on them) from a butcher I like. Chop up two big carrots (like those massive ones; if skinny, use 4) and two large onions in big chunks/wedges. Roast them together on a tray at 450 for about 1 hour, sometimes 10 to 15 minutes more, until good and browned all over, basting as needed. Scrape everything and all the juices into a big pot. I add two celery ribs, a bay leaf or two, a few cloves of garlic, I like a tablespoon of peppercorns in there too, sometimes a few sprigs of thyme but not always, sometimes a leek, and here is where my notes get blurry. I think I use 2.5 quarts of water, but it might be more. Simmer it partially covered, skimming as needed, adding more water the level goes down more than an inch or two, for 4 to 5 hours. Drain. Chill. Defat. Use.

  27. Anna

    Got everything all prepped today for matzo ball soup, then discovered I was out of matzo at the last second! Had semolina, so decided to go with this. The dumplings were delicious, but unfortunately didn’t realize that semolina and semolina flour were different until I had a bowl of super soupy dough, so it didn’t form the pretty spheres above. Is there a way to substitute semolina flour for this (1.5x the quantity of semolina for semolina flour or something)?

  28. Sydney

    Thanks for the recipe! I made semolina dumplings according to a different recipe (I won’t say by whom…) last week, but using this recipe today was half of the work for a way more consistent result.

    1. Tracy

      Wow! These dumplings were so flavourful and effortless to make. I’m already planning to make them again for tomorrow. Thank you!