My Knoephla Soup Recipe: A Taste Of North Dakota In Iowa

I felt a little North Dakotan so I made some knoephla soup.

This past weekend, I enjoyed following Beth of Rhubarb & Venison, Tracie of Basin Electric, and Sarah of Home With The Lost Italian as they explored Fargo as part of the ND Bloggers & Writers Workshop hosted by the Department of Commerce. I’m happy I could meet them at last summer’s workshop before we moved to Iowa.

I’m finding many favorite places in North Iowa, but I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic as they visited some of our favorite Fargo places like Pinch & Pour, Unglued, The Hodo, Sarello’s and Atomic Coffee. Then, I found myself craving knoephla soup.

I’ve never found knoephla soup outside of North Dakota. Sure, I’ve eaten chicken and dumplings in entrée and soup form before but learned that in North Dakota, it goes by knoephla. This soup comes from the food traditions of the German-Russians who settled in North Dakota and I can’t think of any Fargo restaurant that does not serve it regularly.

My favorite knoephla soups came from Home Plate Cafe in Fredonia and Josie’s Coffee Corner in Fargo. Knoephla soup often appeared on our culinary school lunch menu and I was thrilled when I was assigned to prepare it one morning.

Knoephla collage.jpg

I giggled this winter when I ordered a cup of chicken and dumpling soup at the local sports bar Papa’s and it tasted exactly like knoephla soup. It was a really good cup, too, and would have held it’s own in North Dakota.

In culinary school I made soup so often that I could make it in my sleep. I build soups by sight, feel and taste instead of measuring ingredients. If you’d like a more exact recipe, scroll down to the recipe at the end of this post I wrote for Simple, Good & Tasty about Quantity Lab in Culinary School.

Here’s what I whipped together last night, though I might have made too much soup. Our pot was big enough to serve a large family so I froze the extra. Actually, I take that back. You can’t have too much knoephla. Especially if you live outside of North Dakota.

Cooks Notes:

IMG_2070These homemade dumplings are denser and chewier than frozen knoephla dumplings. They remind me more of spaetzle. Frozen dumplings are widely available in North Dakotan grocery stores. The raw dumplings will expand during cooking so don’t cut them too big. 

Make as little or as much soup as you’d like. I add a lot of vegetables and gently cream the soup. This means preparing it with chicken broth and adding just enough cream to provide a butterfat shimmer but not make too heavy. I prefer my soup thinner but you can add more roux for a thicker texture. Extra roux can be saved in the refrigerator for later use thickening soups or sauces. 

Use chicken stock or water with chicken base added to it. I typically buy the highest quality chicken base I can find  because it’s less expensive than purchasing boxes of broth. You can even find organic chicken bases. The higher quality bases will contain chicken and require that you store them in the refrigerator after opening. Of course, if you make your own broth, then use that. 


Good bowls have a butterfat shimmer.


1 stick of butter
1/2 cup flour

Knoephla Dough
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Olive oil or butter
Carrots, about three medium, diced
Celery, about three ribs, diced
1 small onion, diced
Waxy red or yellow potatoes, diced (about two cups)
Chicken broth or water + high quality chicken base
Cooked chicken, two-three cups
Black pepper
White pepper
Garlic powder (or a little fresh garlic)
Sugar, a couple pinches


  1. First, make the roux which will thicken the soup. Melt a stick of butter in a saute pan. Slowly whisk in the flour until it resembles the texture of wet sand (you might not need the entire 1/2 cup flour). Cook briefly until the flour is no longer raw but is not brown. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. In a large pot, saute the carrots, celery and onion in a little butter or olive oil until softened. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover with stock or water and add potatoes.
  4. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. In the meantime, make the knoephla dough.
  5. To make the knoephla dough: Whisk together the eggs, baking powder, salt and water. Slowly stir in the flour with a fork until the dough forms a ball. Incorporate flour by hand until the dough resembles dough that is softer than bread dough and slightly stickier. Cover and rest for about 15 minutes. Roll into ropes and cut into small dumplings. Spread the dumplings onto a sheet pan and dust with flour so they don’t stick together.
  6. When the potatoes are tender, add the cooked chicken.
  7. Gradually whisk in spoonfuls of the roux. Be patient and allow the soup to come back to a simmer. The roux will thicken as the soup heats. If you add too much roux too quickly, your soup might be overly thick.
  8. When you like the thickness of the soup, add as much cream as you’d like.
  9. Continue to taste your soup and check for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, garlic, chicken base if using water, and sugar to taste.
  10. Drop in the dumplings. They’ll float to the surface when they are cooked.


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Yum. Yum. Yum. Looks delightful.

    • Connie oquinn

      I never did see where and when they cooked the chicken that puzzles me.

      • Mark

        It is broth and base..not chicken parts

      • gayle Schlosser

        i get rotisserie
        chicken and debone it…or i use ham…yumm

  2. Lonnie

    Had my first encounter with knoephla a few months ago at Krolls diner in North Dakota and have been itching to have it again ever since. Your recipe isn’t quite it, but its so good! Thank you!!

    • Jeni Flaa

      Knoephla is one of my favorites! I have eaten knoephla there, but had never explored the rest of their menu. I’m glad it’s good, though! I really liked Josie’s knoephla. It was brothier and lightly creamed, but they only have it on certain days.

      • Janet Camp

        My Grandma was from SOUTH Dakota (the last of ten and first to be born here). She came to Washington State in middle age, and settled in Yakima, where I was born. We had knoephla soup at least once a week at Grandmas, only until now I never knew how to spell it! (Always thought it was nippla soup.) My Grandma’s family was from northern Germany, but my Grandpa was Russian-German, so maybe he was responsible. Sadly they wouldn’t talk a lot about the “old country” and my grandma died before I was old enough to realize she wouldn’t be there forever, so after I came to Milwaukee in middle age, where there is a lot of German heritage and German restaurants, I thought I might find knoephla soup, but perhaps now I know why. Thanks so much for this–I can’t wait to make some for my own grandchildren (my own mother never learned to cook much in spite of being a traditional housewife in other ways).

        • Jeni

          Thank you for taking the time to share about your family and tradition.

  3. Beth Kapteyn

    My family LOVES this soup. I grew up in South Dakota and missed Knoephla until I tried this from scratch.
    Definitely a go to on snowy and blustery days!

    • Jeni Flaa

      It really is comfort food!

  4. Justin Lane

    Excellent recipe. I live in Bismarck,ND and this rivals the best in the area. Recipe for noodles can also be used for other dumplings like turkey and dumpling soup after thanksgiving. Slight modifications/tips for dumplings: use milk instead of water; add 1 tbsp butter; cut baking soda to flour ratio in half; make thick batter instead of dough; drop into favorite chicken/turkey vegetable soup recipe by the teaspoonful and enjoy

    • Jeni

      Thank you very much Justin. I appreciate your tips! I will give this a try the next time I make knoephla.

  5. John Harvard

    The roux wasn’t necessary in my case- perhaps I made too many dumplings- but the soup was thick enough as is!

    • Jeni

      Thanks for giving it a try and sharing! The recipe does make a lot of dumplings. This reminds me that I should make it again this month.

  6. Ethan

    Is there a reason not to add thyme and bay leaves? It seems like the broth would benefit from a little herbal influence, although it is less than traditional.

    • Jeni

      Those sound like great additions!

      • Greg

        I just made this and WOW. Been hungry for this for a couple weeks and now I have a pot full! Thanks for the recipe!

        • Jeni

          I am so glad it worked well! It’s so comforting.

  7. Brie Burleson

    Wow. My teenage son absolutely loved this soup! I used a family size bag of the John Soule’s fully cooked fajita chicken for the extra flavor. I also found flat frozen dumplings that I cut into bite-sized pieces. It was quick and easy and turned out great!

    • Jeni

      This makes me so so happy and thanks for your tip about the fajita chicken and flat dumplings.

  8. Patty

    Hi Jeni,

    Knoephla Soup popped up on one of my feeds; I am of midwest Germanic origin (Indiana) but had never heard of it. As a huge dumpling lover (especially like these, not ‘drop’ dumplings), I was intrigued, and went gaily Googling for its history, variations, etc.

    The original version does not have actual chicken in it, and I am happy to have found your version which does. The dumplings *and* potatoes are an awful lot of starch for one dish, without protein…so thank you for your version. The recipe on my feed also had -nutmeg-, a huge fave of mine!

    Enjoy your yummy soup!

    • Jeni

      I’m glad you found me. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! You are right, the dumplings and potatoes are a lot of starch. Will try adding nutmeg next time. That sounds lovely.

  9. Patty

    Hi Jeni,

    Knoephla Soup popped up on one of my feeds; I am of midwest Germanic origin (Indiana) but had never heard of it. As a huge dumpling lover (especially like these, not ‘drop’ dumplings), I was intrigued, and went gaily Googling for its history, variations, etc.

    The original version does not have actual chicken in it, and I am happy to have found your version which does. The dumplings *and* potatoes are an awful lot of starch for one dish, without protein…so thank you for your version. The recipe on my feed also had -nutmeg-, a huge fave of mine!

    Enjoy your yummy soup!

    • Patty

      Clarification: -nutmeg- in the dumpling dough 🙂

  10. Denise

    Gonna try your recipe. I am from Gackle and it surprised me when you mentioned Fredonia ND I am excited to try your recipe. I also love knoephla with gravy

    • Jeni

      I hope you like it-it’s fun to hear other people’s knoephla tips too. It’s about time to make another batch.

    • Miriam

      I also grew up in the Gackle-Streeter area, and both sides of my family are German’s from Russia. I also saw the mention of Fredonia, which prompted me to respond to your post. I currently live near NYC with my family and was looking solid dish for to contribute for my daughter’s school heritage festival, but first wanted to test it out. It is heavenly—true comfort food! I remembered my mom adding more eggs in her Knoephla dough than the recipe written in one of our family reunion cookbooks, which led me to Jeni’s blog. I also asked my mom, who still lives in Bismarck, and she suggested adding a bit of bacon or ham, if you like, but she confirmed the adding a couple eggs to the Knoephla dough is “the way she always made it”. Thanks to all who have been sharing their family stories & tips! Many thanks to Jeni for sharing your Knoephla recipe!

      • Jeni

        Thanks so much for sharing! I’m so glad you like it. Adding bacon or ham sounds delicious.

  11. Kristin

    Thank-you for sharing. I loved the Knoephla Soup at Kroll’s while stationed in Minot! Can’t wait to try this.

    • Jeni

      Thanks for visiting! Hope you enjoy.

      • Ms Moommist

        I only remember my Russian-German mother in North Dakota making Knoephla once as a child. I remember it was so tasty. She made plain potato soup and what we called Shurpa which is just bread dough made into long rolls and proofed then boiled in water with shortening, salt and pepper topped with ground beef and potatoes and cooked until the dumplings (shurpa) were cooked. We were never allowed to take the lid off until the pot was put on the table. Now, I’ve taught that to my two sons who share them often with their families. Living in Pennsylvania, although there is a large German population, the Plains States still had some of the best comfort food!

        • Jeni

          The dish you are describing sounds delicious.

  12. Shannon

    Jeni, if you’re ever back in Fargo, Wurst has a great cup of knoephla, too. As an native Iowan with German heritage, I’d never heard of knoephla until ND, either, but it is a great treat! I’m “pinning” your version. Thanks!

    • Jeni

      Thanks for the heads up! I’m hoping to get back this spring

    • Tiffany

      I too am from Iowa, I first ate knoephla with my mother in law’s mom while visiting the first time, and it was a staple every time we’d visit. She’s gone now, but knoephla and rueble soup (not sure if that’s even close to how it’s spelled) were her two staple soups. My brother in law makes a version with sausage (I think italian sausage) and it is great. I made some not too long ago and added Canadian bacon to it and it was delicious. Not sure that it rivals Grandma’s version, but close enough to give the warm feelings inside! I struggled with the noodles being too big, I will try your recipe and see if I can roll it out and cut them smaller… It is very similar to the one I had (minus the meat), I believe Grandma always used lard instead of oil or butter as well, so I will be trying that. Thanks!

  13. Josh

    Yum! I forget about Knoephla soup, I should make some. I enjoyed your narrative that you use feel, taste & texture to build soups. That’s how I roll too. Use up what’s in the fridge!

  14. Deborah

    My mother was from Minot, ND, and learned to make knoephla from her Hungarian mother-in-law. Hers was a different recipe though, not a soup. The noodles were made and while they boiled she sliced a German sausage lengthwise and then in 3-inch pieces that were fried. Homemade croutons made with everyday bread and fried in butter were added to the sausage. The knoephla was drained and then added to the sausage and croutons. I am so happy to see your article as I always wondered about the origin of knoephla.

    • Jeni

      Thank you so much for sharing. This sounds so delicious.

  15. Laura Weers

    Sounds amazingly good ! ! !

  16. Janet

    Hi Jeni,

    Thank you for your recipe! I am excited to try it. I live in Bismarck, ND and definitely LOVE German food. I wanted to mention this for the commenter who said he had a lot of dumplings. I had a friend’s mom who would make Kneophla soup and with the extra dumplings, she would make a sauerkraut dish. She would fry some potatoes in a large skillet, then add a pound of bacon, which she had cut into 3/4-1 inch pieces. She would then add the remaining dumplings (which were already cooked) and a can of sauerkraut. Hope this helps anyone who has extra dumplings and likes sauerkraut.

    • Jeni

      That sauerkraut dish sounds delicious. I am going to try this! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Dean

    I once house sat for an elderly couple while in college. We had knoephla soup in my last meal with them. I believe his name was “Stienstra”. New Testament (Common) Greek has a word for “cloud”, “nephela” ending with a long “a”. I don’t know if there is a connection or whether it is coincidental. Many Koine Greek words did influence the European languages, yet sometimes two words appear to have a connection but don’t. Cloud soup, is quite poetic.

    • Jeni

      That is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  18. TyAnna

    How long did this take you to make?

  19. Kathy S

    Finally, a recipe for a soup that delighted me at a truck stop in Bismarck on New Years’ Eve, 1979, as Hubby and I were passing through on our way from Seattle to Miami for his new job. I will treasure this and make it every time we have “soup weather” in Miami. Many thanks!!

    • Jeni

      Thanks so much for sharing, I never see it in Minnesota, one state over. Happy holidays to you!

  20. Don Hauff

    Thank you Jeni for the recipe. Will have to try it. Just so you know the Home Plate Cafe has recently closed and will truly be missed. I am from that area, knew the owners very well and enjoyed meals there when I went back to visit. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  21. Christine

    I’m from Bismarck ND and my grandparents are German from Linton. I grew up on German food. Kneophla soup has always been my favorite. I make dumplings and kraut all the time. I also love kraut buns.

    • Jeni

      Those sound delicious!

  22. Joni

    I use cut up sausage instead of chicken. I buy the sausage at Charlies Country Sausage on East Burdick past the fairgrounds in Minot. I buy the Spaetzles’s at Cash Wise because they are almost $4.00 cheaper then the same bag size at Market Place.

  23. Pam Bauer

    I live in Bismarck ND, my in laws live in Jefferson IA and I make it quite frequently but I use the Chicken base and instead of cream I use cream of chicken soup last thing I add

  24. Nancy Kaltenbach

    I grew up in NW Pennsylvania in a tiny town named after the German city from which it’s first residents immigrated in the 1800’s. I was so excited to find more people who make these dumplings. Our local cookbooks call them knefflies. We fry them in butter and cover them in breadcrumbs as a side dish with sauerkraut or snip them into soups. I have found so many recipes from the Dakotas! I’m happy to find this shared heritage with people who immigrated in different ways to different places.

  25. Lynne

    On our trips back to ND, we have to find a place that serves Knoephla before going home. With the pandemic and not being able to travel across the border, I decided to look for a recipe from ND that I could make. This recipe and instructions are easy to follow. Plus, it allows personal preference in how thick, ingredient amounts, seasoning etc. I have made this twice so far. The 1st time I made it, I used leftover Turkey and homemade broth from our Canadian Thanksgiving. This time I cooked 2 chicken breasts & used the broth from them. along with store-bought chicken broth + water. We love the broth flavour. It makes the soup so tasty! It’s even better the next day. Thank you for the recipe and sharing the story to go with.

  26. Jen

    I have been searching for this recipe for years. My father used to make it for us as kids and it was our favorite. The problem was we called it lump soup and just learned the real name!

  27. Marcy

    I grew up all over western North Dakota. All grandparents were German Russian and catholic. We had nip most Fridays. It was just the dough cut into little pillows. Then added to a frying pan of browned butter bread crumbs or cream poured over them or smothered in home made sauerkraut. LOL.. our recipe was flour salt and water. As adults and as we got “richer”, we added an egg, then changed the water to milk. Many many years later all 5 of us girls ended up in Kansas. We try to meet every couple of months for a huge Kneofla based German dinner.

  28. Carmen

    My great grandparents were German [/Russian descent settled in Minot and grandma made this soup often she would make a large batch of kneophla and after the dumplings were cooked she would hold some back and the next day she would fry bacon then add onions and thin sliced potatoes then when the taters were almost fried she would add the dumplings and we had fried taters and bottons one of my favorite memories. We used home made butter and fresh cream and and chicken broth made from chicken bones and vegetables or broth from a ham bone I live in South Dakota not far from the North Dakota bourder 🙂

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