Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Oma's Nokle Soup
I wanted to feature a heritage soup that originated in Yugoslavia and Austria from my Oma and her mom before her. I'm not sure if it goes back even further, but I feel lucky to get to taste something that has been served to many generations in my family.
My grandma's family were farmers. I think about them working in the fields, and cooking over the fire they built inside the oven. It's a reality so separated from my own, but I still think it should be considered and regarded as important as my own family heritage.
This soup has been served to me and my cousins ever since we can remember. As we got older and were asked what we wanted to eat, we would invariably answer Nokle Soup. It's a dish that is rustic and easy to make.
The recipe utilizes large pieces of everything, so don't cut the ingredients too small. The beauty of it is its rustic quality. The tastes are pure and very soul-satisfying.
Nokles are flour and egg dumplings that are really easy to make. The texture is smooth with a dense interior crumb. The ingredients of this soup are very simple, and you may be tempted to add to it, but the simplicity of the process and the straight-forward taste of each ingredient will really win you over. The broth is very flavorful, yet mild enough for the more delicate palate.
Although this isn't a Christmas dish my family served during the holidays or anything like that, it's one of those recipes I hold close to my heart. As I get older, Christmas is magical for different reasons. It's not so much the gifts we receive but it's about the people we love, past and present.
I hope you have a lovely holiday, and enjoy Christmas with those you love. Also, this soup could be a nice dish to serve after all of those heavy holiday meals— just saying. ;)
Oma's Nokle Soup
Time: 1 hr 15 min Serves: 4-6
Cook's Note: The yield is really easy to increase. If you would like to add a whole parted chicken, it works really great, just make sure to cover with water. Also, you can add more or less veg depending on taste. My Oma says that you can add any type of vegetable you like as well, things like celery or mushrooms.
1 onion, chopped into large pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp paprika
2 chicken breasts on bone, or any chicken pieces on bone, preferably use Free-Range, organic
5 carrots, peeled and cut in half (or thirds)
2 - 3 tomatoes, halved
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into large pieces, preferably use organic
1 tsp Himalayan sea salt, or to taste
4-5 stalks of cilantro (with leaves), optional
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup water, less or more depending on dough
In a large stock pot, add about 7-8 cups water, preferably filtered. Put over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, peppercorns, paprika, chicken, carrots, tomatoes, and potato. Bring to a boil, and drop heat down to medium-low. Cover pot, slightly askew to allow steam to escape. Let simmer for about an hour.
Skim off any built up foam, discard. Remove chicken from pot and de-bone. Cut meat into large pieces. Discard bones and fat. Add meat back into pot. At this point, you can break apart the larger pieces of potato a bit, using the back of a wooden spoon.
Add salt and cilantro. Stir to incorporate.
Prepare the nokle dough:
In a medium bowl, sift in flour (or whisk). Add salt. Add eggs to the middle of the flour and stir around with a spoon.
Add about two tablespoons of water, stir. Continue to add a small amount of water until the dough is smooth and still thick. You may need less or more water as is indicated in ingredient list. The goal is to get it smooth and manageable, not too dry; and not too wet (it should be like really soft play dough).
With a spoon, cut into dough, scooping about a tablespoon and a half. It should roughly be in the shape of a crescent. Use another spoon and gently push the dough off of the first spoon into the simmering soup.
Continue this process, gently dropping each dumpling into the soup in all visibly open spots. Don't pile the dumplings on top of each other, but it's okay if they start to touch. Don't stir the soup at this point.
Cover pot with lid and let dumplings cook for 15 minutes undisturbed.
Remove lid after 15 minutes, and the nokles should have puffed up and filled the whole circumference of the pot. At this point you can gently stir the soup with a wooden spoon.
Taste soup for seasoning, adjust if needed. You may remove the whole peppercorns before serving if you wish, or just give a heads up to those you're serving.