This fall has been a little hectic. The weather has gone from freezing, to hot, to normal quicker than you can pick a pumpkin. Outside of the weather, I have started culinary school which has made my life a littler crazier—for the better—both personally and professionally. It is interesting to go from a school with such rigorous academic training as my alma mater, to one that could (in my case) care less about books and more about the discipline and building blocks of a craft. Of course we still have a lot of reading to do, as we are learning classic French techniques and the history of cuisine. But still, not the same.
For me, I just need time to adjust. Adjust to the plethora of people, to an actual kitchen that can hold 20 cooks compared to my measly three, but mostly for me it is about taking myself out of theory and into practice.
Each day I work on my knife skills. My knives have quickly gone from being scary, extremely dangerous weapons, to my friends I can’t leave at school for even one night. They are kept always sharp and always clean. As for my knife cuts themselves, well, they could use work. I tourne (a seven-sided football shape) the day away and maybe get a minuscule better. I julienne for an hour and it looks like I’ve done nothing. Alas. One of these days.
Anyways. The point of this digression is that I have had to figure out what to do with all of my extra produce scraps. At first, I made a lot of mashed potatoes. But dear lord, there are only so many I can eat. I hope, however, to make a mashed potato bread soon but that takes more time than an evening. I’ve moved on to carrots for as many cuts as I can do. They incorporate easier into dishes, and plus, if I get sick of them, Clarence will gladly help out. He strangely really enjoys carrots. But all of this is a warning. My next few recipes will be… creative, to say the least. In this soup alone, I have chiffonade collard greens, brunoised, julienne, and rondelle, and small dice of carrot, small dice of onion, and lozenged a pepper. It’s a little outrageous. In the recipe itself, I will call for a more uniform cut as it will make your soup look pretty and cook evenly, whereas mine, though tasted fantastic, looks a little half hazard.
Remember I like to use everything I have on hand. The cheese comes from Renards in Door County, a family tradition and favorite stop, and is a cheese curd (they are the solid parts of soured milk, i.e. baby cheddar). I may have over estimated my ability to eat an entire bag in one week, so why not put it in a dumpling. The herb for the dumpling is actually carrot top leaves. If you don’t have any on hand, feel free to use sage or tarragon—any light herb that will cook easily will do. The carrot top leaves have a slightly bitter taste to them, but are full of nutrients. Perfect for those trying to kick a cold.
Vegetable Soup with Cheddar Dumplings
Feeds 2-4 people
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 C. small dice of carrot
- 1 C. small dice of onion
- 1 C. small dice of pepper (green or red)
- 2 pints chicken stock *use can use vegetable stock here instead to make this a vegetarian meal
- 2 C. water
- 1 C. chiffonade of collard greens (kale or even spinach would work)
- S&P to taste
- 1 C. flour
- 1/2 C. cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 C. fine chop of herbs or greens such as carrot top, tarragon, or sage
- 1 egg
- 3/4 C. milk (may need more or less depending on desired thickness of dumpling)
- 1/2 tsp salt
1. In a medium-sized pot, heat oil to medium high heat and add in the onions, peppers, and carrots. Cook until onions are translucent but not colored.
2. Add chicken stock and water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
3. Add in collard greens. Allow soup to cook on low simmer for about 20–30 minutes or until carrots are cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine all of the dumpling ingredients. Mix well. The dough should be sticky, yet thin enough to form easily into a small ball or spoon shape.
5. Bring soup up to a boil, add in 4 or 5 dumplings at a time (depending on size of pot) cover, and allow to cook for 3–5 minutes. Remove dumplings and set aside. Complete until out of dough.
6. Serve the soup with three dumplings in the center.
Nothing like a warm soup on a cold night. Enjoy!