The weather in Nor Cal has turned chilly and I have been nursing a cold for the past few days, which has been making me crave soup. My mother used to make giant vats of vegetable soup on Sundays and then expect me to eat it for the rest of the week, which I found to be somewhat tedious. Due to this trauma (I’m totally joking, mom), I like a little something of substance in my soups, like meat or seafood, and will rarely eat the same kind two days in a row. I started the week with creamy tomato with grilled cheese, then Thai Tom Kha Gai, followed by clam chowder, and today I am making kreplach in chicken soup. Kreplach are basically Jewish wontons or ravioli. They are a simple egg pasta dough filled with meat, cheese or potatoes. They can either be boiled in broth and then served as a soup or boiled in salted water and then sauteed and browned in schmaltz to serve as a side dish. (According to my dad, this was my Bubbie’s preferred method) Kreplach are popular as a pre-fast dish on Yom Kippur and the cheese versions are traditional at Purim. I made beef stuffed kreplach in chicken soup (aka Jewish Penicillin). Kreplach originated in Eastern Europe as a way to use up leftover meat and sure enough I had all the makings in my kitchen already. I had about 1/2 pound of ground short ribs in the freezer left over from burger making and a gallon bag of frozen chicken stock cubes from my last batch of stock. (Gordon has a good recipe for chicken stock under his schmaltz post) Every Jewish cookbook I consulted had a kreplach recipe and there was little variation in the dough recipes with the exception of quantity. Some were enough to feed an army but given how finicky I am about soup I went for a smaller portion. The filling variations were endless, including chicken liver, and mushrooms, but I went for the basic ground beef.
recipe after the break
A number of recipes call for using pre-made wonton wrappers, but I learned from my Ashuk experiment that they end up with not quite the right consistency and pasta dough just isn’t that hard to make. If you really don’t want to make dough, Hillary over at the Foodie and the Health Nut has pointed out that Berkeley Bowl and other gourmet grocery stores often carry sheets of fresh pasta dough. Most traditional recipes call for square pieces of dough folded into triangles but I have round dough cutters so I did mine in circles folded into half-moons.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 egg
- dash of salt
- 1/2 lb. ground meat
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 clove garlic crushed or diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl combine the flour, salt and egg to make a soft dough. When combined turn dough out onto a work surface and knead until it it soft and elastic. You can add more flour or a bit of water to get the right consistency. For into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- While your dough is refrigerating make the filling. Saute the onions in a small amount of oil until soft. Add the ground meat and garlic and cook until the meat is at least half done. (you can also used fully cooked meat if you have leftovers). Let cool to room temperature and combine with egg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out as thin as you can get it. This will take some time and turning of the dough. If you have a pasta roller break it out. Depending on the shape kreplach you want (circles for 1/2 moons or squares for triangles) cut the dough into 2-3 inch pieces. You can re-roll and cut the scraps from the first cutting.
- Fill each piece of dough with a teaspoon of filling and fold the dough over and pinch it closed to seal. Let the kreplach rest for about 15 minutes before cooking so they don’t burst.
- Boil the kreplach in your favorite stock or broth for about 20 minutes. Lightly stir them at the beginning so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. The kreplach will float when they are cooked.
- Serve as a soup or drain the kreplach and brown them in a pan with oil or schmaltz and serve as a side dish.