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OISHII / Filling dumpling soup ideal for cold winter nights

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dumpling soup

The Yomiuri ShimbunDumplings

In this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home.

Winter nights become cozy when you warm up with soup. Katsuo Omiya, a chef at a Western food restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo, recommends soup with Western-style dumplings.

For this article, he chose to introduce a stomach-pleasing vegetable soup with hearty dumplings. He says it is an example of German home cooking.

When he worked at a hotel restaurant in New Zealand in his 20s, Omiya learned about this dumpling soup from a German chef who introduced it as a dish from his hometown.

The main feature of the soup is large dumplings, each about 6 centimeters in diameter. Known in Germany as knodel, among other names, the potato-based dumplings are made with such ingredients as ground meat and eggs.

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    Pancakes decorated with whipped cream and chocolate sauce

“In Germany, milk-soaked bread is sometimes used instead of potatoes,” said Omiya. Strong flour is mixed as a binding agent to help mold the dumplings.

For soup, add bacon, onions, carrots and cabbage that are all cut into large pieces. Use thinly sliced cabbage cores, too.

Cabbage cores “have a sweet taste, so don’t discard them,” the chef said. Conscious of Japanese people’s preference, Omiya added satoimo taro and lotus root as well.

First, add olive oil to a relatively deep pot and heat garlic after crushing it by pressing with the flat side of a kitchen knife. When the garlic becomes aromatic, add onions and stir-fry well to develop a sweet flavor. Add carrots, bacon, lotus roots, satoimo and cabbage — in that order — and stir-fry.

To give the soup a richer flavor, add butter when the vegetables soften. Add water and skim residue from the surface as it boils. Shape dumplings into balls and add them to the soup. When the dumplings are cooked, it is ready to eat.

The soup has a rich taste with a strong buttery flavor that complements the soft vegetables and succulent dumplings’ doughy texture, which is achieved by the use of potatoes and strong flour.

“The dish has a simple and nostalgic taste,” said Omiya.

Recipe for dumpling soup

Ingredients (Serves 3):

Dumplings

100 grams chopped onion

100 grams minced beef

20 grams bacon

70 grams strong flour

250 grams potato

1 egg

Soup

180 grams onion

90 grams bacon

220 grams satoimo taro

140 grams lotus root

100 grams carrot

1 clove garlic (about 10 grams)

200 grams cabbage

50 grams butter

1 bay leaf

Directions:

1. Start with the dumplings. Peel and boil potatoes and press them through a strainer. Add onion, egg, finely chopped bacon, minced meat and strong flour, and knead together by hand until the mixture no longer sticks to your hands. Knead in 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Shape the mixture into 9-10 balls about 6 centimeters in diameter.

2. For the soup, dice onions and satoimo taro into 3-centimeter cubes and cut carrots and lotus roots into 2-centimeter cubes. Chop cabbage into chunks. Cut bacon into pieces 3 centimeters in width.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic in a relatively deep pot. Stir-fry onions well. Add carrots, bacon, lotus root, satoimo taro and cabbage, in that order, and stir-fry. Sprinkle some salt and black pepper. Add butter when the vegetables soften and mix them well.

4. Add 1 liter of water and a bay leaf. Skim residue from the surface as it boils.

5. Add dumplings and stew for 15-20 minutes over medium heat until they are cooked. Sprinkle some minced parsley on top.

Pancakes

If you have flour left over after cooking dumpling soup, try making pancakes.

Combine 80 grams of strong flour and 80 grams of weak flour and sift. Add 10 grams of baking powder, 25 grams of sugar, an egg and 150 milliliters of milk to the flour and mix them. Add oil on a heated frying pan and cook the mixture in the pan. Serving the pancakes with whipped cream and chocolate sauce make them look as good as they taste.

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