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Author Notes: This is not a soup for the faint of starch. It's basically cream of potato soup with dumplings in it. Rich and substantial and nourishing, it is nonetheless one of the cheapest and easiest ways I know of to feed a hungry horde, especially if they've been working or playing outdoors in the snow and cold and ice, like my Bavarian ancestors who emigrated here and became a dairy dynasty. I've been told that the recipe did not cross the Atlantic with my German side of the family; it is something they began making only after they settled in Wisconsin. The recipe for the soup portion is vaguely Gallic, like vichyssoise, but one of my cousins says the recipe is Russian and another says it's Polish. It deserves to become a more popular winter food. . .if only there weren't a dozen ways to spell and pronounce its name. We pronounce all the letters in the word, including the "k" and the "p," but most people keep those letters silent, and there are as many ways to spell "knipfla" as there are dumplings in the soup. So. . . the recipe's origins, its pronunciation and/or spelling are debatable, but you might also argue over whether milk has any business in this soup; or whether the potatoes belong in the dumplings, not in the body of the soup; or whether the soup and the dumplings should be cooked separately and should meet each other in the bowl, not in the pot. Sadly, none of us great-grandchildren wanted to continue the dairy business, but we do continue to "argue" about what to call, and how to make, this bowl of comfort. The chubby dumplings are chewy and dense, not light, airy pillows. Eat this often enough and you'll become that lovely term term of endearment, "my little dumpling." Ja? —betteirene
Makes 2 quarts
For the Dumplings
- 1 egg
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Soup
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 medium red potatoes (about 3 cups), scrubbed, eyes removed, and cut into 3/4" dice
- 1 small (about 1/2 cup) white or yellow onion, cut into 1/4" dice, rinsed with cold water and drained
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably a rich, gelatinous homemade stock
- 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk (preferably) or 1 1/2 cups milk, half-and-half or cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives or minced parsley
- In a medium bowl, use a fork to blend together the egg, milk and salt. Add the flour and stir until all the flour is moistened. Knead briefly on a very lightly floured surface or a piece of plastic wrap until the dough is stiff and no lumps remain. Roll into 2 or 3 ropes 1/2" in diameter and set aside at room temperature, uncovered.
- In a large (4 quart) pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, melt butter over low heat. Stir in the potatoes, onions, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until onions are softened but not caramelized, about 15 minutes. (The potatoes should not be cooked through.)
- Pour chicken stock over vegetables, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. With kitchen scissors, cut the ropes of dough into same-size pieces (roughly between about 1/2") and carefully drop the dumplings into boiling soup. Reduce heat to medium-high, cover pot and allow dumplings to simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Add evaporated milk; heat through, but do not boil. Taste soup and adjust seasoning if necessary. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives or parsley.
- If you have the wherewithal, add a bit of freshly-grated nutmeg or some finely-zested orange peel along with the milk, or a handful of frozen peas. You might also stir in a bit of chopped celery and/or carrot along with the onions. Serve with a sturdy dark rye or pumpernickel, a few slices of good sausage, grainy mustard, butter and beer.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dirt Cheap Dinner
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