Sausage and Greens Soup With Cornmeal Dumplings For Zora Neale Hurston

By Valerie Stivers
January 25, 2018
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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... Valerie Stivers

Serves: 6

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
  1. Put a saucepan of water on to boil, at least 3.5 quarts in size to give dumplings room to puff up.
  2. 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).
  3. Work the butter into the dough with your fingers. Add buttermilk, stir to incorporate, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. You’ll have a very soft, light dough. Working with wet hands, form it into small balls, around the size of a marble.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. When the sausage is cooked, break it into bite-sized chunks with a spatula.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Add the greens and simmer until just softened but still bright green, 3 to 5 minutes.
  11. Gently add the dumplings and simmer till heated through.

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