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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Recipe coming shortly!)
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.
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.