I wasn't going to post this recipe for Parsnip Dumplings in Broth. After I finished cooking the recipe, and tried a bowl of this soup, I didn't "love it" (a la Marie Kondo). I gave away a couple of portions to my son and daughter-in-law upstairs, who never gave feedback as to meh or yea. Another indication that this soup may be meh. I can see that this opener is not a good way to sell this soup to you, but stay with me here.
Sometimes you just need to revisit something. Take a second look. What is your response in the moment?
The other day, having nothing much in my refrigerator, and wanting to eat something healthy, I defrosted a container of the Parsnip Dumplings in Broth. While it heated in the pot and turned from ice back to soup (isn't alchemy wonderful?), I washed a rather large leaf of chard, tore it into pieces, and added it to the soup pot.
My husband Dan used to do things like this all of the time when he cooked. He would call it "sprucing the dish up." It most often involved cutting up vegetables like carrots, onions, and peppers, and adding them along with soy sauce and sesame oil to left-over brown rice from a Chinese Restaurant take-out delivery. The final "voila" to this creation was to have beaten an egg, and then add it to the dish, to mimic the egg bits found in professionally made fried rice.
Dan would make similar moves to spruce up soups. Chop up vegetables and add them to the pot. In this case, I followed his practice, when I had the "ah ha" moment of thinking to add some chard. The results were fantastic. Somehow it made all of the difference in the world, and so now I am including this recipe for Parsnip Dumplings in Broth, to the cooking the kitchen recipe library.
Not called Parsnip Dumplings in Broth for nothing.
OK. Obviously the flavor of the broth is crucial. I would categorize this recipe as being one of many restorative broths. You will be sweating a mirepoix of vegetables including celeriac, in oil, to begin with. Then you will add the spices and herbs. But, there is one surprise guest ingredient that you would never guess. Prunes!
This recipe is from "Plenty," by Yotam Ottolenghi. Lately I seem to be cooking my way through this cookbook a bit. In his intro to the recipe, Ottolenghi talks about how he learned to use prunes to deepen the flavor of a vegetarian broth, from his dear friend, Ossi Burger. I am grateful that Ottolenghi has shared this secret with the rest of us. One big reason for trying this recipe for Parsnip Dumplings in Broth is to experience the depth of flavor the prunes add to the broth.
The star of the broth, the visual focal point of the soup, are the dumplings that blithely float around in the bowl. Reminds me of the Simon and Garfunkel song line, "wish I was a kellogg's corn flake, floating in the bowl nice and easy." Those dumplings are floating in that bowl, waving to you in your imagination, and enticing you to eat them in their fluffiness. They are like soft, perfectly cooked matzoh balls, but made with a mash-up of russet potato and parsnips, and the rest of the ingredients needed to make a dumpling.
If you are like me, intimidated by the idea of making, of creating a dumpling, the charm of this recipe is that you will learn just how easy it is. So go boldly (a theme for this new year at cooking the kitchen), and try this recipe for Parsnip Dumplings in Broth. You will benefit from sipping a restorative broth, made healthier with the addition of a green leafy vegetable added to the soup pot. And there will be a party in your mouth when you bite into one of the fluffy dumplings floating in the bowl. Enjoy!
Parsnip Dumplings in Broth
Per Ottenlenghi's notes to this recipe, "You can keep the vegetables left over from making stock and serve them deep-fried, or even as they are, with mayonnaise or aioli.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
- 5 celery stalks, cut into chunks
- 1 large onion, quartered
- ½ celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
- 7 garlic cloves, peeled
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 2 small bunches of parsley, plus some chopped parsley to garnish
- 10 black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 8 prunes
- ½ lb russet potato (1 small), peeled and diced
- 1-½ cups peeled and diced parsnips
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ cup self-rising flour (note: to make self-rising flour, combine 1 cup flour, 1-¼ tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt
- ⅓ cup semolina
- 1 egg
- salt and white pepper
To make the Broth:
Heat up the olive oil in a large pot. Add all the vegetables and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until they color lightly. Add the herbs, spices, and prunes and cover with cold water. Simmer for up to 1-½ hours, skimming the surface and adding more water when needed so that at the end of the cooking you are left with enough liquid for four portions.
Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Add some of the carrots and some celery or celeriac, if you like, as well as some torn chard leaves. Set aside ready for reheating.
To make the Dumplings:
Cook the potato, parsnips and garlic in plenty of boiling salted water until soft; drain well. Wipe dry the pan in which the vegetables were cooked and put them back inside. Add the butter and sauté on medium heat for a few minutes to get rid of the excess moisture. While hot mash them with a potato ricer or masher. Add the flour, semolina, egg, and some salt and pepper and mix until incorporated. Chill for 30 to 60 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
Reheat the broth and taste for seasoning. In another pan, bring some salted water to a light simmer. Dip a teaspoon into the water and use it to spoon out the dumpling mix into the water. Once the dumplings come up to the surface, leave to simmer for 30 seconds, then remove from the water with a slotted spoon.
Before ladling the hot broth into bowls, add some torn chard leaves into the pot and cook for about five minutes. Then, ladle the hot broth into bowls. Place the dumplings into the broth, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.