Monday, December 17, 2007

Soup Day, Part II

Okay, we'll start with the kreplach soup.

Yozah! Good stuff.

First, what it is not.

Second, what it is: Kreplach are small stuffed dumplings, historically made by Ashkenazic Jews. They were originally made from leftover meat but can be equally good made from freshly prepared ground beef, chicken, mashed potatoes, or other fillings. Fillings tend to be family recipes and many people have their own traditional favorite and consider that to be the only right filling. Kreplach are similar to Italian ravioli in concept, and because the dumplings are often served in a simple chicken broth, they are commonly referred to in New York as Jewish Wonton - for their resemblance to the Chineese dumpling soup. Kreplach is a traditional dish served on the day before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) or on Hashanah Rabba (the 7th day of the Festival of Booths) or on Purim (the Feast of Lots).

Third, the recipe. This recipe is pretty simple and easy to make. This particular method is the one I used, it's based on several recipes and advice and guidance from Nathan Gendzier of the Brooklyn Gendziers (I believe that Gendzier is Yiddish for 'most excellent cool dude and soup guru').

2 cups flour (I prefer King Arthur unbleached white)
1/2 tsp salt (Kosher, of course)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 egg yolks (keep the whites, see below)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsps baking powder

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add the wet ingredients.
I did this in my Kitchen-Aid mixer using the mixing paddle on low speed.
I see no reason why you couldn't do it by hand, with a pastry folder
(cutting whisk), I just like my Kitchen-Aid. Mix until you have a good
crumb, similar to making pie crust. Then carefully add a couple of
tablespoons of water until a dough forms, again similar to pie crust
dough or more correctly egg noodle dough if you're used to that.
Divide the dough into three equal sized balls and pack to get the air
bubbles out. Roll out on a floured surface using a rolling pin, I like
a French pin, but the standard American rolling pin will work just fine.
Roll the dough thin, it's elastic and you may need to let it rest for
a couple of minutes between rollings. Alternately you could run it
through a pasta maker set for lasagna noodles, set the rollers as thin
as you can and make the dough balls whatever size appropriate to your
machine. Cut into 3" squares. I used a large 'rocker' style pizza
cutter, but a pastry dough cutter, standard pizza circular cutter, or
sharp knife will work just fine. Set the squares aside, if it's hot in
your kitchen - put them in the refrigerator.

The Filling:
1 small onion or half a large onion, cut into pieces.
(diced fine, if you don't have a meat grinder)
1 good sized rib of celery, cut into crescents
(diced fine, if you don't have a meat grinder)
2 tbsp butter or oil (I like butter)
1 lb lean beef (approximately 1 lb, little more, little less is OK)
(I like flank steak, it's lean, cheap, and flavorful)
(unless you don't have a meat grinder, then use lean ground beef)
1 Chicken liver. (seriously, it won't taste right without it, really
ask Nathan.)
1 tsp salt (Kosher, pay attention)
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 egg (I just used the two egg whites left over from the dough)

Cut the meat into chunks. Melt the butter (you're using butter,
right? Not the oil) in a heavy pan. I use a cast-iron, stove-
top deep dutch oven. Brown the meat, add the onions and celery,
add the liver. Cook until the vegetables are soft, and the meat and
liver are cooked through. Run the mix through a food grinder set to
fine. You could do this in a food processor, using the pulse
setting or you could chop the vegetables fine and use ground beef and
avoid this step all together. Cool (no not duuude, cool. Cool as put
it in the fridge for a while). Add the rest of the ingredients
and mix thoroughly (use your hand), don't pack the mix together.

Assemble the dumplings:
Put a dab of filling in the middle of a square of dough. Dampen the
edges with a finger tip dipped in water. Fold into a triangle, then
fold each corner towards the middle bottom point. You should end up
with about about 20 Kreplach (this will be enough for the cook who
will eat them over the stove as they come out of the broth, cursing,
and burning their mouth. Adjust accordingly, just saying).

Cook the dumplings:
Make a chicken broth. If you're not big on making broth from scratch,
use Campbell's canned or better yet a couple of big spoonfuls of Tone's
Chicken Base dissolved in a quart of water. Bring to a low boil drop
each dumpling in the broth, cook 3-4 minutes, until they float. Spoon
out and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a paper towel dampened
with a bit of the broth. Refrigerate the dumplings until needed.

Make soup.
Turn the broth into soup, add chunks of chicken, carrot, celery, onion,
chopped parsley, a of dash white pepper, pinch of salt (Kosher). Make
it chunky. Right before serving, toss in a couple of dumplings per
serving. I served mine with sourdough garlic toast.

All three of us here at Stonekettle Station give this soup two thumbs up with a snap and a tail wag. Good stuff, you really gotta get you some of this.

Next post - Clam Chooowdah.


Update - A point of procedure: What the hell is the plural of Kreplach? Is it kreplaches? Kreplachi? Kreptephemeri? What?


  1. 1. I can't tell you how tickled I am that I've introduced kreplach soup into the repertoire of an Alaskan Goyisha (gentile) Family. You will all be healed of your cold symptoms by morning. or tomorrow evening. or the next day. guaranteed. OK, not more than two days, MAX.

    2. The plural of kreplach is...kreplach. Sort of like oil.

    3. I find it mildly amusing that if I was ever to actually follow a recipe, I'd be printing yours and adding it to the cheese bin (don't ask) where I keep my recipes. Beats the shit out of the one when I asked my sister for Grandma's recipe years ago, and she responded, "There's meat. and salt. and you have to make dough."

    4. The Brooklyn Gendziers consist of ... me. Actually if you ever cross paths with a Gendzier, any Gendzier, it will be a very close relative of mine. We're not sure what our name was when we got here from Lithuania (or Romania) in the 1890's, but whatever it was, the guy at Ellis Island wrote down "Gendzier" and 4 generations later, all of us Gendziers are closely related. (Most are in North Florida and Boston suburbs)

    5. Blogger's spellcheck keeps telling me I've misspelled Gendzier. In fact, it just told me I misspelled spellcheck.

    6. someone should make this recipe, freeze it, pack it with dry ice and send it to Sergeant E. It would have a calming effect. (Taustin could have a couple of gallons of the stuff and still be clueless and agitated.)

    And lastly, just to confuse Janiece:

    UGLY CHICK AT THE HELM: "We are holding at warp eight point four, sir. If we can maintain it, our estimated time of arrival is eleven and one half solar hours."

    SPOCK: "Eleven point three, three seven hours, lieutenant. I wish you would be more precise."

    And lastly after lastly, I admit that I've pathetically and repeatedly checked in on this thread because I just love, love, love, the whole concept of introducing someone to a food they've never had and hearing that they liked it. I can't wait to hear the story, years from now, when your son introduces his fiance's family to his family's traditional cold remedy.

  2. Hah, your story about your name is almost the same as my mom's family. They were dutch - Gritzjie Stareken became Gretel Sterken. On my dad's side the Irish was so unpronounceable (and the Irish so despised) that we became English - Wright.

  3. What was the original Irish name?

    (Incidentally I blame Nathan for the chili recipe post that it just occurred to me I could be doing next. One of my non-Whatever readers mocks me for the number of food-related posts on my blog, and now with two soup recipes so close together I'll never hear the end of it.)

  4. Well, that's a damned good question. My paternal grandmother was a Laughtlin - which was probably shortened from McLaughtlin. She apparently knew the original Irish/Gaelic of my grandfather's family, but wouldn't talk about it. Her response to any inquiry was "That's old business, decent people don't ask those kind of questions." Period, end of conversation. She was also a mean old women who probably didn't really know, she was also an obnoxious alcoholic.

    My mom's family we've traced as far back as 1687 in Friesland, Netherlands. My Dad's family ends with his father. Period.

  5. MWT,

    Tough shit. and I mean that in the nice way.


    talking about your son introducing someone to kreplach soup, made me remember something I haven't thought about in years. My grandfather on my mother's side moved to Florida from DA BRONX in 1946. I've never been totally clear on the story, but aparrently there was a "moth-ball fleet" in Green Cove Springs, Fl (nowhere near any water that I'm aware of), so Grandpa and his partner opened an Army/Navy store there which eventually moved to Jacksonville. What is not in dispute is that they brought a lot of merchandise that no-one in their right mind had any interest in.

    Cut to Passover Seder, 1965. I'm 5 years old. there's a thing called the Afikomen (a piece of matzo necessary to complete the ceremonies, but set out for small children to steal and ransom so you can complete the feast). (Look it up, I can't explain it.)

    Anyway, I get the Afikomen that year ('cause Mom tells my brothers its my turn.) Grandpa tells me about how I've got an Uncle Gudolf in Alaska. He's a ragpicker but I can get a yakamahoose from him if I'm willing to wait a month for the mail.

    Well, Yakamahoose sounded great to me. I was picturing a pirate's treasure chest.

    A couple of weeks later I got this:


    Grandpa had thousands of them.

    When I complained, I was informed that I chose to get my gift from Uncle Gudolf and I should live with it.

    In short. I have the most stupid Alaska connection of anyone who's never been anywhere near the place.

  6. Good God, Nathan you make me laugh.

    The drinking bird, I loved those things. I still do - but I see your point.

  7. I know it maks me a clod, but I just can't make myself buy a chicken liver. Something about eating the animal's oil filter just givs me heebie jeebies.

    I sure want some darn soup now though. My palette begs for some broth I tell you.

    On another note, why on Earth am I posting a comment about friggen soup at 3AM? I bet some kreplach would help me sleep...

  8. I'm not a big soup fan, but that looks pretty good. Except for the chicken liver. That's just nasty. I'm with Shawn on that one.

    "Ston, she is yours. You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. This is not logical, but it is often true." - Spock

  9. You don't taste the liver, it flavors the filling just slightly. It would be a lesser recipe without it, but you could leave it out I suppose. Philistines.

  10. There once was a guy named Shawn Powers
    He talked about soup at all hours
    He doesn't like liver
    The thought makes him shiver
    He's under the bed, watch him cower.

    Janiece votes with Shawn about liver
    She thinks if she ate some it'd kill her
    She quotes Mr. Spock
    Completely ad hoc
    But she's hot so we'll try to forgive her.

    MWT's making chili
    and posting food posts willy nilly
    the readers complain
    but that's clearly in vain
    check the new recipe; its a dilly.

    And Jim claims his dancing's atrocious.
    So bad he refuses to show us.
    his singing is worse.
    If you hear it you'll curse
    But we want him to post the fucking video anyway right now dammit.

  11. Ohhh! You Bastard!

    I spit coffee, literally spit coffee, all over my shirt.

  12. ::bows deeply acknowledging tossed roses::

  13. Nathan, you are one sick, twisted bastard. And we like that in an on-line friend.

  14. Ahh, Nathan. You can keep your blog-free status. With comments like yours, we all like our blogs better. :)

    And regarding not tasting the liver -- I think of it as a little dog turd. Sure, you'd probably never taste it, but do you really want it in there? Really?

  15. Shawn,

    The 2nd Avenue Deli reopened yesterday at a new location in midtown NYC. I'm sorely tempted to go pick up a pint of their chopped liver and send it to you. It is a life-affirming substance. Truly Ambrosia, nectar of the Gods good. If one taste didn't change your mind...well, I don't know what I'd do, but it wouldn't be pretty. I feel a Sergeant E moment coming on. Must. Stop. Typing.
    Dunk. Head.
    Breathe. Deep. Relax.


    Sorry. It had to be said.

  16. Nathan, for a true Sarge E moment you have to make the leap that Shawn somehow sullied your honor, bad-mouthed the Corps, and/or admires RAH.

    Just Saying - there are rules

  17. Nathan, if you like, I could call you a chicken livered, blogless, Gendzier that can't fold a dumpling like a triangle to save his soul. Or his country.

    Will that do?

  18. Jim, get with the program. For a true Sarge moment you have to make the leap that Shawn somehow sullied your honor, bad-mouthed the Corps, and/or believes RAH's later work was self-indulgent and not edited as well as his earlier books.

  19. Jim -- the chowder, Manhattan or New England? I've never had the former, it just seems... wrong.


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