At the heart of every good soup is a delicious broth. Gravy, risotto and many of our favorite holiday dishes depend on it. You can buy a decent carton package of broth off the shelf, and believe me, I’ve bought plenty. You can also make your own and use bones, roots and other vegetables that might otherwise end up in your yard waste container or compost bin. There are a few ingredients that show up in practically every broth or stock recipe — vegetable or meat. Carrots, celery, garlic, onions, bay leaves, peppercorns and parsley are the most common — and then there are prunes.
Yes, you heard me right. I found a recipe for vegetable broth with parsnip dumplings in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Plenty, that calls for all the usual suspects plus 8 prunes. It’s actually a great idea for making a rich full-bodied broth using only vegetables (and a fruit!). If you’re looking for a more delicate vegetable broth, you can omit the prunes or follow the recipe for Jerry’s Golden Stock.
Vegetable Broth with Parsnip/Potato Dumplings
Ingredients for the broth: 3T olive oil/ 3 carrots peeled and cut in chunks/ 4 celery stalks, cut in chunks/ 1 large onion, quartered/ 1/2 celeriac, peeled & chopped (optional)/ 7 garlic cloves, peeled/ 5 sprigs fresh thyme/ large handful of parsley/ 10 black peppercorns/ 3 bay leaves/ salt & pepper to taste/ 8 prunes.
Directions for the broth: Heat olive oil in large soup pot/ Add all vegetables and saute lightly/ Add herbs, spices and prunes and cover with cold water/ Simmer for an hour or longer, adding more water if needed/ Strain through a sieve, adjust seasonings and cool before putting in the fridge. It can be re-heated to serve with the dumplings or frozen for later use.
Ingredients for dumplings: 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced/ 1 parsnip, peeled and diced/ 1 clove garlic, peeled/ 2T butter/ 1/2 cup self-rising flour (or 1/2 cup all purpose flour plus 5/8t baking powder and a pinch of salt)/ 1/3 cup semolina/ 1 egg/ salt & pepper to taste.
Directions for the dumplings: Cook the potato, parsnip and garlic in boiling salted water until soft — about 15 minutes/ Drain well/ Wipe pan dry and return mixture to pan/ Add butter and saute on medium heat for a few minutes to release excess moisture/ Remove from heat/ While still hot, mash with potato masher/ Add flour, semolina, egg, salt & pepper and mix just until incorporated/ Chill for 30 – 60 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
To make the soup: Reheat the broth/ In another pan, bring some salted water to a light simmer/ Dip a teaspoon into the water and use it to spoon out the dumpling mix, carefully dropping into the simmering water/ Once the dumplings come to the surface, leave to simmer for about 30-60 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon/ Ladle hot broth into bowls/ Place dumplings into broth and garnish with chopped parsley.
If you’re a vegetarian or have one on your guest list for Thanksgiving, this broth is for you. It can be adapted as a wonderful basis for a Roasted Garlic Gravy.