Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Geometry of Pasta - Chicken Soup with Canederli (Bread Dumplings)

A few months ago I received a complimentary copy of a cookbook called The Geometry of Pasta by Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand.  I'm going to be honest, when I first saw that this cookbook didn't have any beautiful photos I was a little disappointed.  After going through every recipe in the book I was really excited about it.  There were pasta shapes and types that I've never heard of before and there are some great illustrations as well.  I decided that I wanted to try something different and so I decided to make the bread dumplings.  It is kind of like an Italian Matzoh Ball - at least I'm guessing that it's similar because I actually never had a Matzoh Ball! I slightly altered the recipe since I didn't have all the ingredients on hand and decided to make this last minute.  However, the dumplings were light and were packed with flavor even without the pancetta.  The recipe called for day old bread and I didn't have any so I substituted them for plain breadcrumbs. It worked out just fine.  I also added a tablespoon of garlic to the onions when I cooked them in 2 tablespoons (instead of the 3 that the recipe called for).  I don't feel bad about altering the recipe because the cookbook stated that this is just one variation of these little dumplings and I'm sure we can all think of ways to make them our own.  

I made the Canderli in chicken soup.  It was the best soup I ever made!!!  I have a little confession to make.  Every time I make chicken soup I add a couple of bouillon cubes because the soup always seems a little weak.  Well I solved that problem this time. Here's how (it's more of a method than a recipe so use what you have on hand and the chicken pieces that you like - the more chicken and bones you have the more flavor your stock will be).

To make the stock:

In a 8-10 quart stockpot cover 1 whole chicken (cut into pieces), 3 legs and 3 thighs and some chicken wings and backs ( that I put in the freezer for this purpose) with cold water.  Add 2 large carrots cut into 3 large pieces, 2 large ribs celery, cut into 3 large pieces, 1 large onion quartered, 4 cloves garlic (unpeeled), scallions (because I had to use them up), 4 dried bay leaves, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, salt, pepper and a large freezer bag of chopped plum tomatoes I froze in the summer. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  After about an hour or so pull out all the chicken and removed it from the bones and shredded it.  I put the bones back into the soup with some tomato paste (again, I had an open can I wanted to use up) and cooked it for another 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Strain the stock and skim off the fat (it will be easier to skim it once it settles and starts to congeal). It cooked for a total of 3 hours and it was SO worth it! The result was such a flavorful stock and I can't imagine not doing this all the time! 

To make the Chicken Soup:

In a small soup pot saute 1 small diced onion, 1 diced carrot, and 1 diced rib of celery and saute in extra virgin olive oil.  Add as much stock as you want and add some of the reserved shredded chicken.  Add some chopped fresh parsley and let cook while you prepare your dumplings. 



1/2 medium onion, very finely chopped
3 1/2 tablespoons butter (I only used 2 tbsp)
3-4 slices day old bread (5 1/2 ounces weighed without crust) (I used 1 cup breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
Scant 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped or 2 2/3 ounces Italian Sausage, skin removed broked up, optional
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
a grating of nutmeg
chives, finely chopped (optional)


Gently fry the onion in the butter until soft, then leave to cool.  Mix togetehr well with all the ingredients to make a soft sticky dough (which won't be entirely smooth).  Season with salt and pepper.

Take a small lump of dough, roll in flour and test to see if it holds together when dropped in boiling water.  If it fails, add a bit more flour to the mixture and try again.  When satisfied that you are on safe ground, roll golfball-sized spheres of dough with generously floured hands.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before cooking.  Cook in the broth at a gentle simmer.  They will take about 20 minutes.  Serve in broth with a scattering of Parmesan atop.

My Notes:  I didn't put any meat in the Canderli since I used chicken soup and I only needed to refrigerate them for 15 minutes (if even) and they cooked up right away.  I let them cook for 15 minutes but I really don't think they needed that since it's just breadcrumbs.  They Canderli didn't taste as good the next day so I suggest you only cook what you will eat at that time. 

For a Printable Version of this recipe, click here.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

You did a great job on those canederli. What a comforting bowl of goodness for a cold winter day.

Claudia said...

I am going to think about the canederli until I make them. They are filled with warmth and goodness. Not extactly matzoh balls... they are in a league of their own.

Megan said...

It definitely sounds like an Italian matzoh ball. My fiance's family is Jewish, and they call matzoh balls canadles... which interestingly is very similar to canederli.

Holly said...

I love a soup with dumplings:)