One of our New Year’s resolutions — one we’ve stuck with, at least — is to save the scraps from our vegetables as we use them to make stock once a week. The trimmings are all things we would have or could have eaten anyway, such as the peelings from scrubbed carrots. The stems from greens, the stalks from broccoli, ends from squash, basically anything that’s perfectly edible, but we aren’t using, mainly for cosmetic reasons. We think the only thing we add to our weekly stock that we wouldn’t eat would be the peels from onions or garlic.
So, once a week we put all that in a stockpot, add water, a couple of bay leaves, and set it to simmering for 45 minutes. Afterwards, we scoop out as much vegetable matter as we can, then strain the broth through a funnel lined with a coffee filter. Every week we end up with about four cups of stock, which we use in any recipe calling for stock. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been using the stock to make soup as a quick meal. We know it might not make sense to be making soup when it’s hitting 100°F outside, but that’s the way it is.
We often use pasta, or rice, to round out our soup, so it’ll be a bit more filling, but the other night we had a hankering for some dumplings. Home-scratched dumplings; you’ve had the kind, light and soft, floating in the soup. We immediately hit the go-to cookbook that we couldn’t do without: The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, and found a recipe (we found a recipe for another dumpling we just have to try, too) that sounded good. We did use whole-wheat flour instead of the recommended “flour,” but we figured that if they didn’t specify all-purpose, it’s fair game. Plus, we cut it in half, which made a better amount for our quart of soup.
Well, all we can say is to use eggs from those happy hens that you or your neighbor raise. It’s better for the hens if they run and peck and scratch, which means better eggs for you. Another thing, for the soup, use any kind you like, but it should have a good amount of broth so the dumplings can simmer. With thicker soups or stews, you really don’t need to add dumplings, although you could — when you’re scratchin’ we won’t get in your way.
Procedure in detail:
Beat butter. This is really the only part of this recipe that needs any detail, and not much at that. Measure out the butter into a bowl and let it warm to room temperature so it’s nice and soft. Now take a fork, and, using the fork as a whisk, beat the butter until it’s smooth. If your butter is warm enough, this’ll take just a few beats.
Add egg. Crack the egg, and, still using the fork, beat the butter and egg together. It’ll take a bit of effort to beat the butter into the egg, maybe a minute of beating. If a few small bits of butter doesn’t mixed in, don’t worry about it.
Add flour and salt. Stir in the flour of your choice (we used whole-wheat), and the salt to make a batter.
Drop into soup. With the soup simmering, carefully (so you don’t get splashed) drop half-teaspoons of batter into the soup. They’ll sink at first, but then they’ll pop right back up to the surface.
Cover and simmer. Dumplings cook partly by the simmering, and partly from the steam, so cover your soup and let it simmer for 8 minutes. No peeking. Oh, all right, you can peek, but just once.
Ah, for one reason or another, it’s been years since we’ve had dumplings. Why, who knows? We won’t even speculate, since that lack is now corrected. We’re surprised that they turned out as light as they did, given that there’s no leavening in them (many recipes for dumplings call for baking powder), and that they’re made from whole-wheat flour. But, they were light, light and tender, and we couldn’t stop eating them. The only thing we can say against them is they didn’t taste as buttery as we thought they should, but the butter flavor might have been overpowered by the flavor of the soup. These are so easy and fast, we can try them again in a milder soup. Five stars.