Rustic. Homestyle. Comfort food. These are the words I would use to describe my new broccoli soup recipe, which took a distinct left turn from the dish I envisioned when I was first jotting down notes. I think many people think of cheese in tandem with broccoli in soup, but how many folks think chevre? While cheddar is usually the star of that show, goat cheese, especially fresh chevre, is well-suited to a pairing with broccoli and even better suited to be featured in dumplings. I pictured a delicate, brothy soup, flavored by the roasting process and a little squeeze of lemon juice at the end, with tender dumplings floating lazily about. Instead, I got a rich soup, flavored by roasted broccoli and shallots, brightened by lemon and dill, surrounding tender, creamy dumplings. This is how it should have been all along.
I chose to cook the dumplings in broth and use that same broth, clouded as it was by pieces of dumpling and strands of dill, to finish my broccoli soup. Why did I do this? Two birds with one stone: extra flavor in the dumplings from the broth and thickener for my soup from the bits of dumpling! Always thinking, I am. If you’d like to try a thinner, brothier soup like I first imagined, cook the dumplings in lightly salted water and use the broth for soup purposes only. Without the floury bits of dumpling dough, the soup won’t thicken in the same way. You could also make the soup without dumplings, if you’re concerned about dairy or gluten or just craving a lighter broccoli soup. Lastly, if you want to play up the heartiness of the dumplings, add additional vegetables like peas or cooked carrots (after you puree the broccoli), or cubes of pre-cooked chicken.
What you have in this recipe is a meal reminiscent of old favorites, particularly broccoli cheddar soup and traditional chicken and dumplings, but new and bright and interesting. The depth of flavor from roasting the vegetables, the creaminess of chevre, the classic duo of dill and lemon to keep your palate awake– no strange combination or juxtaposition of flavors here, just familiar ingredients put together in a new way. I think these goat cheese dumplings might show up in other soups I make, because they are great, but I will always think of this broccoli soup as their proper home.
Roasted Broccoli Soup with Goat Cheese Dumplings
(dumplings inspired by The Kitchn)
- 1 lb. fresh broccoli
- 1 large or 2 small shallots
- 1 T. olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 1/4 c. flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 T. fresh dill, chopped fine
- 3 oz. goat cheese (chevre), at room temperature
- 5 c. vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 T. fresh lemon juice
Start by roasting the vegetables. Cut the broccoli crowns into florets; keep them similar in size but don’t fret too much about them being exact. Shave the tough outer layer of the stems off with a vegetable peeler and cut into cubes similar in size to your florets. Cut small shallots in half and large ones in quarters; toss broccoli pieces and shallots with olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and a few good cracks of black pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet or similar roasting pan in one even layer and roast at 375 for 35 mins. The vegetables are done when the shallots have softened and the broccoli florets have some color and crispy edges. Set aside.
Next make the dumplings. (This can be done while the vegetables roast or up to a day ahead.) Combine flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the milk, egg and fresh dill and stir until you have a uniform ball of dough. The dough will seem floury at first– keep at it with a wooden spoon until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Crumble the softened goat cheese over the dough and stir to incorporate. It’s okay if some streaks of chevre are still visible in the dough. At this point, you can wrap the dough and refrigerate for a day or proceed with forming and cooking the dumplings.
Pour the broth into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Using a 2 T. cookie scoop, soup spoon or your hands, make golf ball sized dumplings. Drop the dumplings into hot, simmering (not at a vigorous boil) stock in a single layer; depending on the size of your pot, you may need to work in batches. The dumplings will sink and then float; cook them for 3 mins. after they float and remove promptly to a plate. Repeat this process until all dumplings are done; you should end up with 10-12. Set them aside and reserve the broth! Don’t strain it or anything.
Add the roasted broccoli and shallots to the reserved broth. Don’t be bothered by the remnants of dumpling– they are your secret thickening agent. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 5 mins., until you see the broth beginning to thicken. Remove the pot from the heat and cool slightly before pureeing the soup with an immersion blender, or use your Blendtec. Be careful! Hot soup is hot. Return the pureed soup to the pot and stove; add the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. I like a lot of pepper in this one and recommend at least a little more of that. Add the cooked dumplings to the pot and heat gently, just until warm. Serve immediately– a few dumplings into each bowl, topped with a generous ladle of soup– and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill if you like.
This soup is wonderful left over and will thicken significantly if the dumplings are stored with the broccoli soup. I like that a lot; it becomes almost like a good casserole. If you’d rather keep the soup soupier, consider separating the broccoli soup and dumplings into different containers before refrigerating.