Knoephla (pronounced "neff-la") is part of the German heritage around these parts. The word refers to the dumplings, from a German word that means "little knob/button" (thanks wikipedia). Knoephla soup is still pretty easy to find - they were serving bowls of it at the cross country state meet I was at yesterday (my niece Sydney took first!). The soup is so easy to make vegan - I just substituted vegan sour cream instead of regular cream, vegan "chicken" broth for chicken stock, and made the dumplings with vegan margarine and no eggs. I think it would fool anybody used to traditional knoephla soup. It's really hearty and comforting - a lot of the old German food I grew up around featured lots of flour and potatoes in various forms of noodles and dumplings. The first snow of the season is swirling around outside today, so it's perfect knoephla weather.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. enerG egg replacer
2 tbsp. vegan margarine (softened if refrigerated)
enough water to make a firm, pliable dough - 1 1/2 cups or so
1 tbsp. canola oil
3 medium red potatoes, in one inch cubes
2 stalks celery, diced
6 to 8 cups water
2 tbsp. vegan chicken broth powder, or your favorite veggie stock
1 tbsp. dried dill
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (optional - leave out if you like a clear, not creamy, soup)
salt and pepper to taste
Oyster crackers or saltines to serve
* The egg replacer is optional - I just tried it to see how the texture was - dumplings hold up find without it.
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry dumpling ingredients, and fold the soft margarine into the dry mix. Add a cup of water, and stir to combine - the dough will still be pretty dry. Continue adding water, a few spoonfuls at a time, until the dough is dry enough to work with in your hands. If it becomes too moist, dust with more flour and continue kneading for a few minutes. The dough is pretty forgiving, and if it is a little low on moisture, that will only result in a firmer dumpling - no big deal. I just work it until it’s not sticky and I can cut off sections that hold together completely and are dry enough to work with. Cover the dough until you’re ready to make dumplings.
2. Heat oil in a soup pot, and saute diced celery for about 2 minutes. Add about six cups of water and broth powder or stock, bring to a boil, and add potatoes. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook potatoes until they just begin to soften. While the potatoes are cooking, start cutting up the dumplings. This is the only tricky part of this soup - if the potatoes are pretty soft by the time you add the dumplings, the potatoes might become a little mushy by the time the dumplings are done cooking. This varies by type of potato too - just something to keep in mind.
3. I find that the easiest way to make dumplings is to break off tennis ball-sized pieces of dough, roll them into long cylinders - about ¾ inch wide - and snip off dumplings with a scissors or very sharp knife. You can snip them directly into the simmering soup - this way they don’t get stuck together in a bowl, and they tend to keep from sticking in the soup if they are added one by one.
4. Keep the soup at a steady simmer, and continue cooking until about 5 minutes after the last dumplings have been added. Sprinkle in about a half tbsp. of dried dill. If using sour cream, add it just before turning off heat. Stir until it is “melted” and incorporated into the soup. Season with salt and pepper. I like to sprinkle a little more dill into the serving bowls, and eat it with saltines or oyster crackers.