Category: soup (Page 1 of 3)

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.

Seattle & Spicy Chili

I spent the weekend before Christmas in Seattle.

This was my fourth visit to Seattle. I first traveled to Seattle my senior year of college when I co-led a college service trip. We spent the week volunteering for Multifaith Works, a nonprofit dedicated to serving those with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. The nonprofit has since become Rosehedge/Multifaith Works and expanded their mission to also supporting those who struggle with isolation and loneliness.

I think it’s safe to say our whole group of students fell in love with Seattle upon arrival. Such a stark contrast to Iowa. From the steep hills to smooth public transportation systems to the diversity of food.

We experienced many examples of hospitality during this week. One man gave up his weeknight to take us to the grocery store when we arrived, and a church allowed us to crash in their basement and use their kitchen. We painted a house one afternoon. Later that evening, the landlord treated our whole group to a seven course feast at a Chinese restaurant in the International District.

Each course was an adventure. Fish maw soup that we were instructed to spike with a red vinegar and white pepper. Peking duck. Knots of salt and pepper fried crab that I clumsily poked with my chopsticks. Sweet and sour pork chops, and shrimp with walnuts coated in that sweet, mayonnaise sauce. Afterwards, his daughter led us to her favorite bubble tea shop.

For the first time, I came away with the understanding of travel mercies. I was humbled.

The focus of this most recent visit was to celebrate celebrate my friend’s marriage. We celebrated over frantic wedding preparations. While in transit. Over spicy Thai food. And deep, dark coffee.
Dungeness Crab Egg Foo Young and four, housemade hot sauces for brunch at Revel. Espresso art and biscotti from Roy Street Coffee & Tea. Spicy Thai food and Thai tea from Thai Curry Simple
While some danced at the reception, we non-dancing folk enjoyed hot, buttered rum. It was truly a whirlwind weekend and a beautiful wedding. And it involved making lots of chili.
The family found out I was in culinary school and asked if I could make a mild version of chili for 50 people with whatever was in the groom’s kitchen within a matter of hours.
As I began the mild version, I was asked to make a spicy version for 50 more people. I exclaimed, “I’m gonna chop the hell out of all these vegetables!” or at least, that’s what I’ve been told. I just remember feeling like I was on Chopped. Then things got messy.

Before leaving for the rehearsal dinner, we accidentally spilled at least half on the floor. The next day, we learned we left a large bag of it on the counter overnight. We quickly scrambled and fortified what was left. Hours before the wedding, I noticed a placard stating the chili was free from a multitude of allergens including soy. My eyes widened in panic because I remembered seasoning it with soy sauce I had found in the fridge.

We simply crossed out the word soy and all was well. 
I did not think I would want to make chili for a long time. Which is why I was so surprised when I started craving chili when I got home. I think I wanted to share some of my experience with Jake who was unable to join me due to work.

Jeni’s Spicy Chili

Olive oil
1 pound of ground beef
1/2-1 can of beans
1 onion, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, roughly chopped
1-2 red or green jalapenos, roughly chopped (I use seeds and all but you can remove for less heat)
Tomato paste (I use at least a few tablespoons)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Chili powder
Cinnamon (a couple pinches)
1-2 cans crushed tomatoes (if you don’t have enough, add water)
Black pepper
Brown sugar, enough to balance the acidity
Soy sauce or tamari
Sriracha, to taste
Butter, a small knob


  1. In a large pot, cook ground beef in a little olive oil until slightly pink. If there’s too much fat, pour some off, but keep enough for flavor.
  2. Add onions and carrots and cook until carrots are more tender.
  3. Add as many beans as you’d like. 
  4. Add the sweet and hot peppers. Stir occasionally until slightly softened.
  5. Add the garlic and briefly cook until fragrant.
  6. Add the spices. I use a lot of chili powder, plenty of cumin, and a little bit of oregano and cinnamon. You can always add more later. 
  7. Add tomato paste. Stir and cook until the tomato paste loses its rawness. 
  8. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. 
  9. Season with salt, black pepper, and enough brown sugar to balance the acidity from the tomatoes. Add more spices as desired.
  10. Optional seasonings: I like to add a little soy sauce for umami, sriracha for additional heat, and I melt in a small knob of butter for richness. 
  11. Simmer until the peppers and carrots are tender and the flavors meld. Continue to taste for seasoning.
  12. I like to serve with a scoop of rice and garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, and a lot of chopped, raw onion.
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