This was one of the first recipes that I marked as one I wanted to try when I first bought Yotam Ottolengi’s cookbook Plenty. Soups are known for being cheap, easy, and healthy, and also a good way to use up wilty looking vegetables. I’ve been wanting to get into making soup for a long time! The problem with this soup is that you have to make the vegetable broth from scratch, which requires 1.5 hrs of simmering on the stove, so it seems like a good thing to get started on midday. So making soup seems like a perfect sunday afternoon activity! You pretty much have to make the broth and dumpling batter in advance, and then you are ready to go to make the soup 5-10 minutes before you want to eat it.
I went grocery shopping in preparation for this last night, and decided to make this broth after going to brunch this morning. The online recipe appears here but since it looks pretty different than the one from the book here are the ingredients listed in the book:
Ingredients for the broth: 3 tbsp olive oil, 3 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks, 5 celery stalks, cut into chunks, 1 large onion, quartered, 1/2 celeriac, 7 garlic cloves, peeled, 5 thyme sprigs, 2 small bunches of parsley, 10 black peppercorns, 3 bay leaves, and 8 prunes.
Ingredients for the dumplings: 1/2 lb russet potato, peeled and diced, 1.5 cups peeled and diced parsnips, 1 garlic clove, peeled, 2 tbsp butter, 1/2 cup self rising flour (to make self rising flour, combine 1 cup flour, 1.25 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt), 1/3 cup semolina, 1 egg, salt and pepper.
I had never heard of a celeriac before, so I looked it up on wikipedia. Apparently it a variety of celery with a bloated root, and looks something like this:
Thankfully Berkeley bowl has strange things like this, and hopefully your grocery store does too!
The spice aisle in the bulk foods section also came in handy for this recipe as I was able to buy just enough black peppercorns and bay leaves for the broth for 25 cents each, enough prunes for 80 cents, and semolina for the dumplings for 38 cents.
Ok so the prunes are not very beautiful, but all of the root vegetables for the soup were quite lovely.
To make the broth, I heated up the olive oil in a pan and got to work cleaning and washing my vegetables. I cut off the skin parts of the celeriac and diced it up and added it to the carrots, celery, and onion.
I didn’t want to bother peeling 7 garlic cloves so I just mashed them up in my garlic crusher – I figured that was okay. Let’s hope so! Here is the mirepoix (fancy french term for carrots, celery, onion) plus the celeriac and the prunes:
Luckily Berkeley bowl also had fresh thyme springs – I’m considering starting a little herb garden now with some mint and basil and thyme since I’ve been using so many fresh herbs in my cooking these days. I’ve heard they are easy and do not require too much of a green thumb! I grow lots of plants for my research but the plants we choose to grow for research are known for being easy and I have a greenhouse staff to help me out with pesky things like watering them :) I added the rest of the herbs, covered it in cold water, and then left it to simmer for 1.5 hours.
After I got the brother set up, I started on the dumplings. I diced the whole potato and parsnip as I figured exact measurements didn’t matter for this kind of recipe.
I diced and boiled them in water with a garlic clove and tested them out with a fork to see if they were soft.
When soft enough, I drained them into a colander in the sink.
Then I quickly washed out the pan and put them back in the pan on the stove and added 2 tbsp butter. Yum!
Next, I mashed the potatoes, garlic, turnips and butter. It smelled so good!
I quickly made some self-rising flour with 1 cup flour, 1.25 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
Then I added the flour, semolina, egg, salt and pepper to the mash and mixed it all well. It smelled so good!
I transferred it to a plastic mixing bowl, covered it in plastic wrap, and moved it to the fridge.
So there you go, make the broth and the dumpling batter far in advance, and then you are ready to go to make the soup fresh whenever you want. So admittedly, I’ve never made a vegetable broth from scratch before. What do you do with all of the vegetables after you strain the away from the broth? Here they are, don’t they look so pretty?
I asked my chef friend and she says she just throws them out. That seems sort of wasteful to me, so I decided to remove the thyme and bay leaves, add water, and blended them up with my handy immersion blender and make vegetable soup. It looked pretty ugly so I will spare you the picture of it :P But here is the completed vegetable broth after I strained all of the vegetables out of it.
So when you are ready for the soup, reheat the broth and ring some salted water to a light simmer in a separate pan. Dip a teaspoon into water and use it to spoon out the dumpling mix into the water. Once the dumplings come to the surface, leave it to simmer for 30 seconds, remove from the water and place into broth.
And here is the final product, parsnip dumpling soup!