Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Tale of Two Soups

In the past few months I've been introduced to a few Pennsylvania Dutch recipes that have an unfamiliar component called a Rivvel. I haven't quite decided if I like them or not, but I am intrigued enough to want to play with the recipe. A few days ago, Jason's Mom made a big pot of Potato Soup. Potato Soup... with Rivvels.

First appearances were very much like the potato soup I am familiar with and love. But the taste was a bit different. And the texture didn't feel like the thick and silky yumminess I crave on a cold wintery day. I'm not saying it was bad, just different.

I guess this is a good time to stop and explain what a Rivvel is.

It's a kind of free form noodle, or dumpling, depending on who you ask. On their own, they make me think very much of the Spaetzle I always got with my Vienerschnitzel at Seigfried's when I lived in Salt Lake City. But in soup, I'm struggling to love them.  I found this recipe for soup online at that explains how to make them.

2 c. unsifted flour
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
4 qt. chicken broth
2 c. corn
Combine flour, salt and egg together and mix with fingers until crumbly. Drop rivvels (little noodles) into broth. Add corn and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. A rivvel is a "little lump" or noodle.

Photo from
Switch the broth for milk and corn for potatoes and it's pretty much the soup she made. She's also made a version with navy beans and a bit of shaved ham. Searching, I found another site that called the recipe Amish and said it was a Depression-era way to stretch common (read "inexpensive") pantry items into a meal that would satisfy lots of hungry tummies. Add a few crackers and you have starch on starch on starch, so fill tummies it would!

The soup I had in mind when she said Potato Soup takes a bit more prep work to bring it all together...

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, bring 2 +/- pounds of cubed potatoes to a boil in just enough salted water to barely cover. Cook until fork tender.
Meanwhile, in a saute pan, melt 5 Tbl butter and add a chopped onion and an equal amount of thinly sliced celery and cook until translucent.  Add 3 Tbl of white all-purpose flour and stir until well combined. Cook for 2 minutes longer so you don't have a raw flour taste in your finished soup. Scrape into boiling potatoes and stir to combine and work out any lumps from the rue.  Reduce heat and add milk and/or heavy cream. Simmer, stirring often, until thick and creamy - don't let it boil after adding the milk because milk scorches easily. You may need more as it thickens to get the right consistency. When vegetables are tender, add black pepper to taste. Adjust for salt.
To serve, ladle into bowls. Top with a dollop of sour cream, some crispy crumbled bacon, chopped chives and grated cheddar cheese.

Oh yum!  I'm hungry now...

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