If you’re Canadian, it’s nearly Thanksgiving – it’s less than a month away! And I’ve been quite enjoying the soothing fall flavours that have started to take over the kitchen. Roasted tomatoes, fresh-from-the-ground carrots, and big fat pink, purple, and golden beets – all good things, and are you also getting so impatient for pumpkins?
Nick’s been on the cusp of a cold, and I’ve been avoiding it as best I can, and while eating soup can soothe those icky, snotty early cold feelings, the cooking of soup creates an ambiance of comfort, and I don’t know about you but just the smell of chicken stock and veggies burbling away makes me feel so much better, almost right away. Homemade chicken stock is even better – I don’t know what it is, but the rasp in my voice disappears as rich, meaty steam fills the air.
Add dumplings? You’ve got the perfect autumn lunch or dinner, with all the tastes of Thanksgiving in a bowl. Stuffing balls, which are not unlike matzoh balls (though if you are a matzoh ball purist, then they are so unlike matzoh balls), are light and fluffy, and taste of sage, savoury, garlic, and thyme. Too much butter is involved, which is always good. You can’t have too much butter, I don’t care what Jenny Craig says about it.
Stuffing ball soup
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 8 oz. of day-old bread, blended or food-processed until only crumbs remain)
- 1/4 cup finely minced celery
- 2 tbsp. finely minced onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley plus 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 1 tsp. dried savoury
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup melted butter (muah ha ha!)
- 8 to 10 cups chicken stock (good quality is important – best results obtained if you make your own)
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 cups diced root vegetables
In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, celery, onion, garlic, one tablespoon of parsley, savoury, sage, thyme, pepper, and salt. Do not use dry bread crumbs; they are a different animal. Use fresh, if you have to leave a few thick slices of bread out overnight to get stale.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs extremely thoroughly. Whisk in melted butter, then pour over crumb mixture. Mix thoroughly, then cover with plastic and place in the fridge for about 45 minutes.
Roll mixture into balls about an inch in diameter. Keep in mind that the bigger you roll them, the more enormous they will get once cooked – they triple in size as they cook. The recipe makes about 20 balls. At this point, if you are going to use less stock and make less soup, you can freeze rolled stuffing balls. If you’re going to do that, stick them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze until solid, then drop into a plastic bag for later use.
If you’re making the full batch, use lots of stock, to which you will add the lemon juice. Bring it to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat, then drop in veggies, if using. Turn heat to medium, then drop stuffing balls into the pot. Cover with a lid, and let cook for 15 minutes.
Serve hot, garnished with remaining parsley. And if you’re sort of sickish, eat two or three big bowls of the stuff, curled up on the couch, perhaps with your version of Nick, who has perhaps been secretly excited about the finale of America’s Got Talent, even though he won’t say it out loud.