The smell of onion browning right on top of the stove burner is one of my favorite aromas. If I could bottle it up and use it as perfume, I would. I swear. This method for browning onions is used in Bosnian cuisine for all clear soups. It definitely adds to the flavor and keeps the soup clear. Beef soup with semolina dumplings is my absolute preferable soup of all times. It’s simple and abundantly tasty. Sometimes I use homemade egg noodles instead of dumplings but I only opt for noodles on occasion, to keep my family from giving me that “dumplings again” look. What can I say, I’m obsessed. Traditionally, we serve cooked beef topped with horseradish but there’s nothing wrong with leaving it in the soup. The meat is tender and infused with vegetable flavors.
I know it might not be a soup season where you are but it is bitter winter here in Northern Indiana (*pouting and stomping feet) and some 50 days left till spring; the soup is much needed to fight the cold.
1-2 Beef Shanks, marrow beef bone or other beef cut for soup
1 cup Cauliflower florets
1 Celery stalk, piece of celery root or a bunch of celery leaves
2 Parsley roots or a bunch of parsley leaves
5-8 black Peppercorns
Salt, Vegeta or beef bouillon to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable Oil
3 quarts Water
2 tablespoons all-purpose Flour
¼ teaspoon Baking Powder
½ cup Cream of Wheat
1 tablespoon salted Butter, softened
Peel onion and cut in half. Place on a stove burner cut side down and brown on medium-high heat until almost charred. Turn over and at this point turn the burner off. Note: For gas stoves place the onion in an ungreased frying pan and increase the heat to high. You’ll need to clean the pan or the burner afterwards but you won’t need much elbow grease. The fragrance and the flavor alone are worth the effort.
Add onion and the rest of ingredients, except cauliflower and salt, to a large stock pot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for couple of hours or until meat is tender.
Liquid will be somewhat reduced – do not add more water. Strain the stock into a smaller pot, add cauliflower florets and salt. Keep the heat on low and simmer while making dumplings. Do not make them ahead of time or they will dry out.
In a small bowl, mix butter and egg with a fork. Combine flour and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture. The mixture will be soft. Add cream of wheat and mix until combined. This will only take seconds. The mixture will be dense but pliable. I form dumplings by scooping out the mixture with a melon baller tool which makes perfect round dumplings (it is not exclusive to scooping melons). If you prefer almond shape that restaurant chefs are so good at making, form them with two teaspoons. Do not compress the mixture or your dumplings will be too hard. Note: Dumplings will triple in size, so do not use large scoopers or spoons. Drop the dumplings into simmering soup. Return strained whole or chopped carrots and beef to the soup (or leave the meat out and eat it with prepared horseradish sauce, yum). Dumplings are cooked when they float back to the surface, probably after 5-7 minutes.
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