this past weekend, we went to lunch at a charming new place in eastlake called nettletown. on the menu were knoephli, these pan-fried swiss egg dumplings. i have not had these sort simple flour and egg dumplings in quite a long time and i wanted to make them at home when i got back to sf. coincidently, i was also reading the new(ish) book by the lee brothers called simple southern fresh and spied a recipe for traditional chicken and dumplings. this homey dish can differ a lot depending on where you are, from a brothy soup with rolled slippery dumplings to a thick soup with fluffier drop dumplings. i wanted a light broth soup and rolled dumplings in my dish but without the chicken (of course.)
i used sauteed mushrooms as the base and to build up the umami, chickpeas for some protein, and swiss chard for some green. you could also gently poach some chicken in the broth if you want to be more traditional or simply leave out the dumplings and add cooked grain or rice. while the brothy soup simmered with thyme and bay leaf, i quickly kneaded together the dumpling dough. this is a super easy and forgiving dough to work with. i wound up using whole wheat flour because i did not have all purpose on hand (surprising since i have about 4 other types of flour in the pantry.) the whole white flour needed a bit more moisture to come together and tasted surprisingly great after they were simmered in the broth, adding some earthiness and chew. the whole soup came together in about 40 minutes, give or take a few based on your chopping skills.
chickpeas and dumplings
adapted very generously from simple southern fresh. this is a great cookbook! i love southern foods and flavors, and even though i do not eat meat, i found the recipes and ideas highly adaptable and very “everyday.” the lee brothers also wrote another great tome on southern cooking that came out a couple years ago the lee brothers southern cookbook that anyone interested even a little bit in southern food should get.
10 medium to largish crimini mushrooms sliced
1 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic smashed well
2 carrots diced
2 celery stalks diced
1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 bunch swiss chard or other green, stems removed (save these for another dish) and the greens sliced thinly. this would be even more southern with collards!
2 large stems of thyme
1 large bay leaf
3/4 cup flour
melt a knob of butter in your soup pot over medium heat and add the onions. sautee the onions until soft and add the sliced mushrooms. let the mushrooms brown to develop a lot of flavor so dont stir all the time. once the onions and mushrooms are browned, season well and add the diced carrot and celery and the chickpeas. cover everything with enough vegetable broth so the soup is brothy. bring the soup up to a simmer. while this is happening, make the dumplings. add a sprinkle of salt to the flour and add the egg. you can make this in a bowl or directly on your working surface. mix this together with your hands until it starts to come together. flour your work surface well and roll out the dough until pretty thin. cut these into 1 inch stripes and cut the stripes crosswise into 1.5 or 2 inch rectangles. taste the broth and season. add the greens and cook until tender (this will not take long.) when the soup is up to a strong simmer, add the dumplings and simmer them for about 5 or 6 minutes or until cooked through. finish the soup with a generous shower of parsley leaves. ladle into a bowl, maybe sprinkle with a little hot sauce, and enjoy.