Comfort food is essential in the deep chill of January when our animal instincts tell us to stock up and hibernate. One of my favorite qualities about my husband is that in this area, he shines in a very carb-loaded, heavy cream-based way.
The man has honed his cooking skills alongside a woman who honed her skills alongside a woman who put heart and flour and some of that wholesome German Russian discipline into her food.
So my gift to you as we wrap up January is that I followed the man around in the kitchen, documenting his every move, to give you his take on knoephla soup.
Spoiler alert: He adds chicken — and a vegetable that isn’t white. So I’m not sure, under the rules of knoephla, what we are technically allowed to call it now, so I will just call it delicious.
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Husband’s Homemade Knoephla Soup with Chicken
Note: Soup is about the process, so hang in for the long haul and don’t get hung up on meticulous measuring, because the only tablespoon you need is your taste test spoon. Use it often for best results.
6 chicken drumsticks or 3 chicken leg quarters, thawed
1 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
4 medium potatoes
1 small onion, diced
4 large carrots
4 sticks of celery
Chicken base or bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
Step 1 — The broth:
Put as much water into the pot as you want soup broth. (Too much is better than not enough. My husband’s logic in the kitchen and in life.) Place chicken and bay leaves into the water with a pinch of rosemary and a sprinkle of salt. Bring to a gentle boil.
Continue boiling until the chicken is cooked through — approximately 30 minutes, but the longer the better, as the point is to cook the flavor out of the chicken to create a tasty broth. Once the chicken is cooked to your liking, remove it from the pot and skim the excess fat off the top of the water.
Season the remaining broth with: a shake of salt; a pinch of minced garlic; a couple shakes of basil; a couple shakes of celery salt; a tiny pinch of thyme (don’t overdo the thyme); a pinch of rosemary; a generous couple shakes of parsley; 2 tablespoons of chicken base, to taste (or 6 bullion cubes); and 2 bay leaves. Waft the soup up to your nose to get a good whiff. Add more seasoning if you wanna. Stir and savor.
Step 2 — Soup contents:
Remove skin from the chicken and pull meat from the bone. Cut/shred into bite-sized pieces.
Peel and dice 4 medium sized potatoes. Slice 4 large carrots and 4 sticks of celery, and dice 1 small onion. Add 1/2 stick of butter (if you’re feeling diety, you can skip it). Add all above ingredients to the soup and continue cooking on low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
In the meantime, the best part…
Step 3 — The knoephla:
Mix 1 egg with 1 cup of milk. Add a dash of salt and stir. Sprinkle flour on your counter or table to avoid sticking.
Add flour (about 3 to 4 cups) to egg mixture and knead dough on the table until it no longer sticks to your hands and the consistency reminds you of a really light Play-Doh (can you tell I have young kids?).
Roll the dough out into long, round strips that look like small snakes (like you’re playing with your Play-Doh — the kids love this part).
When the potatoes are done, using a kitchen scissors, clip ½-inch pieces of the dough and drop into soup mix. You don’t have to use all of the dough, just put in as many as you like. My husband usually needs to upgrade to a bigger pot. Cook knoephla until they float to the top of the soup mixture, about 10-15 minutes.
Step 4 — The finale:
When the knoephla pieces pop to the top of the mixture, take a little taste of the broth to see if it needs anything. Add seasoning to your liking. Then, if you’re feeling too skinny, add to the mix a ½ pint of cream.
Stir, ladle into big bowls and serve.
Then leave the dishes for tomorrow, tip your hat down over your face and turn in for the night.
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.