Posted by: acooksca | 04/04/2009

Goat Cheese and Spinach Dumplings in Saffron Onion Broth

dumplings-3aI was looking for soup recipes when I came across references for Mid-European cheese dumplings in broth. Something easy, something light, something that fit into the drop-a-few-pounds-post-holidays menu scheme. I also wanted ingredients someone could get at their local supermarket.

To lighten the dumplings, traditional recipes beat in several tablespoons of softened butter. The spinach in our recipe provides air spaces in the dough and therefore lightens without the butter. Another version substitute’s fine corn meal for the semolina, but that would, again, make it a heavier dough. We neither want the dumplings to neither fall apart in cooking nor feel like lead in your stomach.

You could use farmers’ cheese, dripped to a dry consistency instead of goat cheese… by why would you want to loose that goaty tang? Don’t use cottage cheese, though, it is too creamy and the curds too springy.

The broth could be flavored with a variety of fresh herbs or vegetables, just keep the flavors simple so the dumplings can shine through. They have a gentle flavor.

Start this recipe several hours ahead, thawing the spinach and letting the dumpling mixture rest to absorb its moisture and firm up enough to handle. When making the mixture, have the cheeses at room temperature for smoother blending.

Dumplings

1 10.5 ounce goat cheese log (about 1 3/4 cups), softened
2 ounces cream cheese (about ¼ cup), softened
Half of a 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt, dash of fresh black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
about 3/4 cup semolina flour or matzo meal

Broth

1 small yellow onion, minced
1 Tbl. butter
4 cups chicken broth (about 32 ounces)
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or more to taste)

In a processor blend the cheeses until smooth. Squeeze the spinach, as hard as you can, to extract most the moisture. Blend the spinach, seasonings and eggs until incorporated (about 15 seconds). With the machine running, pour in the semolina and blend until you reach a moist, tacky dough (about 20 seconds). The dough should hold together when gathered into a moist dumpling. As it rests, the semolina absorbs moisture from the batter and firms it. Cover and let rest 3 hours or overnight.
Place the onion and butter into a medium saucepan, cover and gently cook over medium-low until the onions are translucent and have lost their bitter raw taste (15 minutes). Increase the heat to medium, add the saffron and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer on low to blend flavors for 30 minutes.
To poach the dumplings bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil. As the water heats make the dumplings and set on at plate. Use moistened spoons or your hands to form 1 ½ inch balls. Slip them into the water, and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Simmer, uncovered, until dumplings double in volume and cook through to the center, about 30 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon to a plate to drain.
Dumplings can be kept in a warm (200 degree) oven until needed. Place dumplings into soup bowls and ladle broth over them.
Makes 30 dumplings, 4 portions

Originally published in Farmstead Cheese News by Karen Bolla, edited for A Cook’s California (A Cook’s CA)  by Karen Bolla.

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