Fluffy Semolina Dumpling Soup from Domenica Marchetti's The Glorious Pasta of Italy

Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books
I received the preview copy of Domenica's new cookbook The Glorious Pasta of Italy couple of weeks ago, but since we were in and out of town it was only today, Friday, with my tea this evening, I had a chance to leisurely open and explore it.

Soon after I opened the book jacket, I came across the recipe I wished to highlight. The Glorious Pasta of Italy (Chronicle Books) rustic feel just proved my mantra of old world sophistication. This Fluffy Semolina Dumpling Soup recipe encompasses the essence of artisanship, like many recipes I encountered, and yet to share of my mom's Indian kitchen, only in this case it's from Domenica's Italian heritage. I can see why Domenica categorized it in the Pasta in Soup section as a wintry comforting dish, but I can see myself making it year round, besides, I am a rebel that way. Not only did it remind me of my mom's unique dishes but also a spectacular twist to the Jewish Matzo Ball Soup, again, only Italian. Even Jonathan was taken with the photograph as I showed it to him while leafing through the pages. Only thing there was a tad of a glitch!

Photo courtesy of Olga Berman
 I cannot mix milk and meat (chicken soup base) according to Jewish dietary Kosher laws. I had two options, first to use water and omit the Parmesan from the semolina dumplings, but since I was enamored with the idea of these dumplings I chose the next option, made it with vegetable broth tucked in the freezer. So this twist is perfect for the kosher crowd as well as the vegetarians among us. The rest of my readers now have another twist to the original. While unlike matzo meal, semolina isn't kosher for Passover, I can see serving it any day of the week and for a festive first course for Parve Friday night meal with Fish as a main course. While I don't claim myself to be glatt (super kosher) there are certain rules I follow and this is just a prime example of how I adjust recipes to our lifestyle. Speaking of a lifestyle, this blog is tree nut free therefore I didn't use the nutmeg called for in this recipe. The dumplings were airy and delicious and will become a staple for years to come at our table. I mentioned in other posts that once in awhile comes a cookbook that will introduce me to something new and Pasta by Domenica did just that.

Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books
My next goal is to make pasta from scratch. I set my eyes in particular on the spinach pasta from the Paglia E Fieno (Hay and Straw) multi color pasta recipe from Domenica's book. I think it's a great excuse for a purchase of Kitchen Aid pasta attachment. Come to think of it my birthday is this summer, soon! :) Roasted Carrots and Ricotta Gnocchi with Herbed Butter would be a nice vibrant change from the potato gnocchi with sage butter I make and to top the meal off Sweet Pasta puffs.

I sang Domenica's praises in a giveaway post of one her books, Big Night In, to celebrate my one year blogiversary end of 2010. Check it out Lemon Crostata and Holiday Sugar Cookies!

Fluffy Semolina Dumpling Soup
Makes 4 servings

Some old-fashioned recipes deserve to be revived and appreciated anew. This is one of them. Made from a batter of semolina, milk, eggs, and cheese and poached in chicken broth, these dumplings are light and delicate and yet rich with comforting flavor. This is a soul-warming soup, just the thing to chase away the chill on a frigid winter night.

2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (didn't use it due to allergies)
2/3 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 cups homemade chicken broth (I used homemade vegetable broth)

Combine the milk, butter, salt, and nutmeg in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then very slowly add the semolina in a constant stream, whisking all the while as you pour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the semolina is thickened and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. This should take about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl, using a spatula to scrape the sides of the pan. Stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmigiano and parsley. Working slowly and stirring as you go, carefully pour in the eggs, taking care to incorporate them immediately so they don’t begin to “cook” and curdle. Set aside while you prepare the broth.

Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Using two standard-size coffee spoons or dessert spoons, scoop up about 1 tablespoon of the semolina mixture and form it into an oval. This is easier than it sounds: you will see the oval naturally take shape as you transfer the mixture from one spoon to the other a few times. As you shape each dumpling, gently drop it into the boiling broth. You should have 20 to 24 dumplings in all. Reduce the heat to medium to allow the dumplings to simmer without the broth boiling over. Simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the dumplings have floated to the surface and puffed up considerably.

Spoon the dumplings into warmed shallow, rimmed bowls, dividing them evenly, and ladle some broth over them. Sprinkle with additional Parmigiano and serve immediately.