This is no mere chicken soup with dumplings. It’s a cross between the Jewish classic dumpling soup and Italian la minestra. The dumplings are made with ricotta cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and semolina. Instead of parsley, the soup is sprinkled with fennel fronds.
Chicken Soup with Dumplings
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Serves 4
- For the ricotta dumplings
- For the chicken soup
Mix the ricotta, eggs, and Parmigiano in a large bowl until well blended, about 1 minute.
In a separate bowl, mix together the semolina and 00 flour.
Gradually combine the flour mixture with the wet ingredients by adding a little at a time and folding gently until well mixed, about 3 minutes. Do not overwork the dough or you will end up with dumplings as heavy as lead.
Cover and refrigerate the gnocchi dough for an hour. (This makes the dough easier to roll out.)
On a lightly floured work surface, grab a small handful of dough and gently roll into ropes that are about 1/2-inch (12-mm) diameter. If the dough is a little sticky dust it with more flour, being careful not to add too much or you will lose the light fluffy texture.
Once all the dough has been rolled into ropes, cut the ropes into 1-inch (25-mm) lengths.
Bring a large pot of water to a slow simmer and add enough salt so that it tastes like the ocean, about 1/4 cup.
Using a traditional wooden gnocchi board or a fork with long tines if you don’t have one, roll each piece of dough down the board or back of the fork with your thumb, pressing gently to make an imprint. Continue until all of the gnocchi are formed, about 80 to 100 gnocchi.
Place the gnocchi in the water and cook for 30 to 90 seconds after they float to the top. They should be light and airy.
If not using right away, arrange the gnocchi in a single layer on a lightly oiled tray, making sure the gnocchi don’t touch, and cool in the refrigerator.
Heat the broth and season with salt to taste. Evenly divide the warm gnocchi among 4 bowls. Pour about 1 cup of hot broth over the gnocchi in each bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil.
Garnish with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional fennel fronds, and freshly cracked black pepper.
Homemade Chicken Stock Variation
Your favorite homemade chicken stock will work wonderfully here. But we thought you may like to see the version that this author uses. She adds the herbs only at the end of the simmering time to ensure that the stock’s predominant flavor is chicken and there’s only a slight hint of vegetal.
Place a 5-pound chicken in a large stock pot. Cover with water so that it comes about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) above the chicken. Slowly bring it to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, making sure to skim off and discard any foam that forms. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 4 hours, occasionally skimming the fat from the surface. (Skimming is important because it will leave you with a clearer broth.) Add 2 carrots, 2 onions, 1/2 bunch celery, 1 leek, 1/2 bunch parsley, 1 bay leaf, and 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns and gently simmer for 1 hour. Remove the chicken and strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, discarding the vegetables and herbs. (Keep the chicken—it’s tender and easy to use in another dish like chicken pot pie or chicken salad.) Makes about 6 quarts chicken stock.
Recipe Testers' Tips
This was such a comforting bowl of chicken soup and dumplings for a grey, cold day. Each element really shines and I loved how the flavor of the Parmesan was detectable in the gnocchi.
Given the simplicity of the dish, I think it's absolutely essential to use homemade stock. I used a scant cup of broth for each serving and about 12 gnocchi per bowl. The gnocchi mixture was sticky but rolled out fine on a well-floured surface and I didn't need to add any extra flour. I got 54 gnocchi. I was bringing the water to a boil while rolling and cutting the gnocchi so they didn't have to sit for long. They took about 60 to 90 seconds to float.
The note says this recipe is good for a lazy Sunday when you have time to let the soup simmer for hours and make the gnocchi by hand and that is true. Starting from scratch it takes a long time. But oh, is it worth that time. The chicken stock's light flavor really allows the flavors of the ricotta and Parmesan in the dumplings to come through.
I wasn't quite sure where the working or overworking the dough line was and I was worried about having "heavy as lead" dumplings, so I did about 3 minutes start to finish and I guess that was okay because the dumplings were pretty light. I didn't measure the diameter of the ropes I rolled out (recipe calls for 1/2 inch) and my gnocchi were pretty small. Of course that meant more in the bowl, which wasn't a bad thing. Next time I might go for an inch diameter.
It also meant I ended up with more than 100! But that was okay, too, because they were in demand and were even better tasting the day after.
I have made ricotta dumplings, aka gnocchi, many times. I have also made them in the reincarnation of ricotta gnudi. Wikipedia defines gnudi as, “Gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricotta cheese instead of potato, with semolina.” I have never been successful with any of the recipes for gnocchi, or gnudi, that I have tried until now. I do not know what about this particular recipe works, and it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that it works.
The recipe is very straightforward. The gnocchi are ridiculously easy to throw together. The ingredients make a dough that is very user friendly. I did not need to add any flour to the dough. It was very easy to roll with just a dusting of flour on my counter. I made tennis ball-sized balls of dough, and ended up with 5 of them. In the end I got 101 ricotta dumplings. There were probably a few more that somehow got popped into someone’s mouth, (Could it have been mine?), somewhere along the line. The dumplings are extremely light and fluffy. Soft pillows of dough.
I used my homemade chicken stock that I make in my Instant Pot. We had dinner one night, and lunch another day with the gnocchi floating lightly in the chicken broth, which was tremendously comforting. I tried using some of the gnocchi/gnudi with some homemade pesto, and some with a “Salsa Funghi E Tartufi” a decadent truffle-salsa from Italy. I must say that the simple pleasure of the dumplings in the broth may have won on loveliness alone. However, with a huge number of leftover dumplings, I’m glad that I don’t need to choose a favorite way to eat these.
I took the extra dumplings and froze some of them raw and froze the rest of them cooked, just to see if there would be a difference. They both froze beautifully, however, freezing the raw, proved to be a problem. After defrosting, I cooked them before using, because I did not want to boil them in the broth, not wanting to take the chance of toughening them. The dumplings that were cooked, I put in a bowl, poured hot broth over them, and a delicious lunch was ready.
I found that a fork with long tines, a serving fork, worked much better than a short tined fork to roll the small sections of dumpling dough. It formed much nicer, distinct ridges. The gnocchi took 1 minute to float to the top of the simmering water. I let them simmer for 30 seconds after that. I put the rest of the dough into the refrigerator while I was working with another section of the dough. The dough needs to be cold to be rolled into a rope, cut, and then rolled down your fork. I placed the finished gnocchi on a sheet pan, lined with parchment paper, placed it in the freezer, and left it there overnight. I then put the frozen gnocchi into freezer bags. They have not stuck together, and I can easily grab the number I want to use for another meal.