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Author Notes: In, Their Eyes Were Watching God, the 1937 novel by Zora Neale Hurston, heroine Janie says of gossiping neighbors "They don’t know if life is a mess of cornmeal dumplings and if love is a bed quilt!" I created a cornmeal dumpling soup with turkey sausage (though you can use any kind) in the writer's honor. Note that I use "self-rising" cornmeal but you don't have to; workaround provided in the recipe steps. An entire Hurston menu is available at: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/11/10/cooking-zora-neale-hurston/ —ivalleria
For the dumplings:
- 2/3 cup Self Rising Cornmeal (Stivers Best!)
- 1/3 cup Self Rising Flour
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
For the soup:
- 3 tablespoons bacon grease
- 1/2 pound DiPaolo's spicy turkey sausage, or other sausage, casing removed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 14 ounces can of chopped tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth, I used Better Than Bouillion
- 2 large handfuls of greens, I used mustard and kale, leafy bits chopped in large pieces
- Put a saucepan of water on to boil, at least 3.5 quarts in size to give dumplings room to puff up.
- Mix the sugar, flour and cornmeal together (if not using self-rising flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt).
- Work the butter into the dough with your fingers. Add buttermilk, stir to incorporate, and let rest for 5 minutes.
- You’ll have a very soft, light dough. Working with wet hands, form it into small balls, around the size of a marble.
- Reduce the water to a gentle boil and add dumplings. Cook until they float and are cooked through, around 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- For the soup: Pour the olive oil or bacon grease on the bottom of your soup pot, and heat to medium high. Add the sausage, flattening it with a fork into a rough layer, and salt liberally. Fry till brown and crusty, then flip, salt, and fry again.
- When the sausage is cooked, break it into bite-sized chunks with a spatula.
- Turn down the heat, add the garlic and toss, frying until the garlic is softened, and stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Add the bay leaf, carrot, chopped tomatoes with their liquid, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer till the vegetables are soft.
- Add the greens and simmer until just softened but still bright green, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Gently add the dumplings and simmer till heated through.