By Katie Stanley, Contributing Writer
There is something comforting about a pot of soup. It draws people around the dinner table with a sense of warmth and togetherness. It encourages you to slow down and enjoy one another’s company. Growing up, soup was served at least once, normally twice, a week for dinner with leftovers for lunch. My favorite was soups made from nourishing homemade chicken broth. If dumplings were added then I was on Cloud 9.
Soup Ladle is a little soup and sandwich place in the town where I grew up that is only open from ten to four. They have two speciality soups everyday. Wednesdays are Knefla day. Knefla is a stew that is attributed to the Germans and South Dakota. About once a month my mom would pick some up for dinner. The key was to remember to call in first thing after they opened to reserve your portion. She would order a gallon and, if you convinced her, a loaf of their famous “crunch bread” which actually tastes a bit like Dandelion Speckled Muffins.
There are different variations of Knefla but everyone seems to agree on three important things: chicken broth, dumplings and potatoes. From there you will see a verity of options such as adding cream to the broth, kielbasa, shredded chicken or vegetables. I like to keep my version simple – like how I remember it tasting growing up – using broth, dumplings, kielbasa and potatoes. Homemade chicken broth really is the key. You can use cartons of broth from the store but you will miss out on the delicious flavor and nutritional benefit.
Knefla is a budget friendly dish even though it uses costly ingredients like kebasa and bacon. Only small amounts are used to build the flavor of the stew. This recipe costs me just over $1 per serving. Depending on where you live the prices for these ingredients will vary. In the end you may end up spending a little more or a little less than I did. Regardless, this recipe should be a frugal choice.
Recipe Break Down Per Serving (at my cost):
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour- .06
Fresh Parsley .04
Black Pepper- .01
Apple Cider Vinegar- .04
Chicken Broth- Free
Slow down a bit in the next few days and gather your family or friends around the table to enjoy Knefla. It can be a meal on it’s own or enjoyed with sauerkraut and bread fresh from the oven slatherd with butter.
- 4 quarts homemade chicken broth
- 4 medium russet potatoes peel and cut into large cubed
- 8 oz kielbasa, cut length wise and quartered
- ½ cup yellow onion, diced
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 recipe dumplings
- 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- Knefla (Dumplings)
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, milk and apple cider vinegar 8 to 24 hours before you want to make your soup. Mix until the ingredients are well combined. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for 8-24 hours.
- When you are ready to male your soup, add the egg, baking soda and salt. Knead with your hands until the ingredients are well combined.
- Divide the dough into 4 parts. On a lightly floured surface roll each part into a "snake" about ½ inch thick.
- Cut each roll of dough into ¼ inch pieces.
- Set aside and continue with the recipe below.
- In a large soup pot cook the bacon over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes or until crispy. Remove and set aside leaving the grease in the pot.
- Add the onions to the pot. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Sautee over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- While the onions are sauteing slice the kebasa length wise. Cut each half length wise again. Cut each quarter into small pieces.
- Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.
- Add the potatoes and dumpling. Allow the broth to return to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. At first the dumplings will drop to the bottom of the pot, then they will rise to the serfice.
- After 10 minutes add the kielbasa and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or until the potatoes or tender.
- Serve each bowl with a bit of the reserved bacon and chopped parsley.