German Knephla Soup with made-from-scratch broth

Let me tell you, I’ve always been amazed at people that can make meals from scratch. Somehow, the thought of just throwing stuff together and hoping that it turns out has always terrified me…but that’s not so much the case any longer.

You see, I have four boys – and aside from one on a very special diet – they will eat anything. And lots of anything. Lots and LOTS of anything.

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He's the one in the football gear.

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He’s the one in the football gear.

Yesterday I started what was to be supper last night, but Boss Man surprised me by having put something in the oven for supper already. So I saved it for today (which actually made it healthier).

This post is actually two recipes in one, so be sure you read all the way to the end, you don’t want to miss it!

Soup base

  • 1 soup bone (in this case, I used a whole half-smoked turkey, you can use a beef bone, ham bone, chicken, etc – leave the trim meat on it…whatever type of base you want to make)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • celery salt, approx. 1 tsp. (you can also just use 3-4 stalks of celery)
  • couple shakes of pepper (I apparently have inherited my Grandmother’s gift of measurement)
  • 3 bay leaves

Put all together into a stock pot or kettle with water. I filled my kettle about 2/3 full of water. It depends on how strong you want your broth, how much you’re going to need for the final recipe, etc. Turn the temp up to medium and bring it to a boil. Keep it boiling for 30-45 minutes. The longer it cooks, the more flavor you’ll draw out. As the meat starts to fall off, you’ll know when it’s about done.

Getting ready to make my broth.

Getting ready to make my broth.

When the broth is to your flavor desire, take out the bone and discard. I always leave the meat in for my soup. (It usually doesn’t have much flavor left, but adds to the texture.)

Notice how most of the meat has fallen off? I picked a little more off as I was pulling out the bones.

Notice how most of the meat has fallen off? I picked a little more off as I was pulling out the bones.

Warning – chicken will cook faster than a beef or ham bone. You’ll want to be sure to get all the bones out! (Lesson learned the hard way.)

If you’re making soup that day, just add your other ingredients and enjoy! If your soup-making day is a little ways off, place the broth in the fridge and let it cool. If you let it cool first, all the fat will harden at the top, making it easy to skim off.

If you’re soup seems to be lacking a little something, you can easily play with it, by adding a little extra chicken bouillon, beef bouillon, etc.

Now, on to the good part:

Knephla Soup

Knephla soup is simply a dough-based soup. Super easy to make, especially with the broth above.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt (to your taste)
  • package frozen veggies (again, to your taste)
  • 3 chicken breasts, browned and chopped

To make knephla dough, simply add the flour, egg and water and mix until a dough ball forms. You know the dough is done, when it doesn’t stick to the side of your mixer. If the dough is dry (flaky in the bowl), add a touch of water…if it’s wet (sticky mess), add a touch of flour. When adding to the dough, do so in small amounts. It doesn’t take much to get it to just the right consistency.

To the broth above, add in the vegetables (you could also use fresh carrots, celery, potatoes, whatever you’d like…I just happen to have a bag of frozen handy) and the chicken. (I cheated this time and used some chopped ham that we had leftover. The smoked turkey tastes a lot like ham, so it was an easy add in. With the salty ham, I skipped salt in the broth, so that it wasn’t too salty in the end.)

Bring the broth with all your goodies in it to a boil.

To make the actual knephla, tear off a chunk of dough and roll it into a strip. Think about half the width of a paper towel roll. Take your kitchen scissors (or your kids’ scissors…washed) and cut small pieces off the strip, directly into the broth. They may sink right away (unless you have a ton of stuff in your kettle, like veggies, meat, etc.), but they’ll float when the dough has cooked through (about 2-3 minutes). Keep cutting and rolling and cutting and rolling, until all the dough is in your pot.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

German Knephla Soup - No matter how you spell it, it all ends up the same...GONE!

German Knephla Soup – No matter how you spell it, it all ends up the same…GONE!

 

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9 thoughts on “German Knephla Soup with made-from-scratch broth

  1. The recipe for knoephla soup varies as much as the spelling of kneophla. I would be shunned by my township if I didn’t challenge you with a discussion about the authenticity of your recipe. A little background on my knoephla soup knowledge. I am a transplant to a region of ND that prides itself on its German heritage. I often refer to this region as Kuchen County. The Kuchen recipe discussion is another post for another day.
    Knoephla soup in my region is based upon the concept as a meal that was made by settlers when you needed to spare the meat. In the “early days” when the Germans from Russia settled, meat was often scarce. Kneophla soup was a hearty soup that was filling yet didn’t require lot of meat, mostly just a base. I have been gifted with two recipes for this soup. One, an often requested family favorite was handed down to me only when I was sworn to secrecy about its origin. I often pass this recipe on to those, like myself, who have a hard time making anything from scratch. The base of the soup is, ahem, cough, made with canned cream of chicken soup base. It may be considered cheating, but with some shredded carrots and chopped celery, it is excellent.
    The second type of base is more traditional. It starts with chopped celery and chopped onion, sautéed in butter. I was taught the formula for knoephla soup is : one stick of butter, one onion and 2 stalks of celery to 8 cups of water. After sautéing the vegetables add water and then, when boiling add diced potatoes (about 2 or as many that are about to spoil).
    The recipe for the dough varies on how dense you want the dumplings. Or as my neighbor stated “how many eggs your hens were laying”. The more eggs the denser the dough. I generally mix about 4 cups of flour with 3 eggs, salt to preference and I use milk instead of water to achieve the right consistency of dough. A friend of mine often uses 4 cups of flour and only 2 eggs. She also uses a teaspoon of baking powder.
    In my region, cream is often added to the water based soup just prior to serving.
    I always enjoy reading/hearing about variations of this soup. I really enjoy your concept of adding the frozen mixed vegetables. I will have to remember this for my next batch as I have always felt that the soup looked so bland. I have shredded carrots for color and occasionally chopped carrots, but had never thought of adding frozen vegetables.
    I am wondering what other recipes you have found for the knoephla dough?

    • Thank you for the information, and for the reminder that my Grandmother would be mad at me for not using butter to saute’ my onions first. This is an adaptation of her recipe (since she never once wrote anything down), and has a similar taste, which I consider a success!

      My Grandma always used chicken, because we always had chicken. She was a bird lady that always had fresh chicken and eggs, but I will completely agree that meat wasn’t always present at the dinner table.

      Cream can be added, but my Grandma didn’t like her soups too creamy, so she left it out. I’ve continued the tradition, I guess.

      As far as sticking true to historical meals, well, I’m not too big on that. Then again, the thought of eating a goose-lard sandwich doesn’t appeal to me either! But I do like letting my children remember the connection to my Grandmother every time we have this soup…and my other German-based recipes that we enjoy. She passed away two years ago, at the age of 89…and was my best friend. I miss her greatly.

      I have a few other dough recipes. I enjoy boiling the knephla, than transferring it to a saute’ pan, frying them in butter and adding sausage to it. Mmmmmm! You can also roll the dough flat, cut it into square (or triangles, or whatever shape), filling with a cottage cheese, egg, salt, pepper mixture, boiling and frying. We call those cheese buttons, or kase knephla.

      OK, now I have to stop. I’m hungry!

      By the way, thank you for the reply, this has been fun!

  2. I too must offer this – as my mother used to make her broth like the above forementioned “The second type of base is more traditional. It starts with chopped celery and chopped onion, sautéed in butter. I was taught the formula for knoephla soup is : one stick of butter, one onion and 2 stalks of celery to 8 cups of water. After sautéing the vegetables add water and then, when boiling add diced potatoes (about 2 or as many that are about to spoil).” And, we fried our knephla with sauerkraut and then everyone received a bowl of broth and was allowed to introduce as many knephla as we wished. Then we could pour a wee bit of cream if we had it into the soup… I prefer mine as clear as possible … if you wish to learn more about Germans from Russia visit our You Tube Channel dasguteessen – the Tri-County Tourism Alliance is counting on you.

    • Ooh! Can’t wait to check out the You Tube channel! And thanks for the tips! Love keeping in touch with our German heritage, even if I have to make a few modern adjustments! 😉

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  7. Hi, my grandpa was from Konigsberg, East Prussia and every Christmas would make a (sweet dumpling soup) with my brothers and I. He would make the dough, my brothers and I would make the knephla/dumplings and drop them in to this sweet Heavenly soup (nearest taste I can compare is Tapioca pudding) I only had it about 3-4 Christmas Eves and sadly he died with the recipe. I have searched every Christmas online for a recipe and this year came across the “knephla” dumplings which rung a bell of what he called our dough balls. Any help or direction would help to grant a 30 year yearning for another bowl of heaven.

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