Thursday, March 10, 2011

Knoephla Soup

Last night, I was watching a documentary on PBS about the Germans from Russia that are so common in North Dakota.  It was a very interesting program, especially so for me because my grandparents on my dad's side are part of that culture.  Recently, I have heard my grandpa talk more and more about what it was like to be a youngster in a very large, poor farming family in Western ND.  My grandpa could have been one of those interviewed, his story was so like others that went through the same hard times.  I think he would really enjoy the program, I believe it was called Of Earth and Sky.  One interesting tidbit that my grandpa recently told me, was that he never actually had a birth certificate.  He was born at harvesting time and his family did not have the time to take care of it during that busy season.  It was apparently, forgotten and never did happen.  In the grand scheme of things, those times are not long behind us, but things have certainly changed dramatically.

One piece of my Germans from Russia heritage is Knoephla soup.  I grew up eating this, often with premade "knoephla dumplings" that a local company called Baker Boy makes.  We always made the recipe on the back of that package.  Recently, I started wondering how hard it would really be to do it entirely from scratch.  I came up with this recipe and I am really happy with it.  I also like the fact that it contains much less than the entire stick of butter the Baker Boy recipe calls for.

Knoephla Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
2-3 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbsp. chicken base
2 Qts. water
3-4 potatoes, peeled & diced
3-4 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dill weed, optional
1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste), optional
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. cream

2 c. flour
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large stockpot.  Add carrots, celery, and onion.  Saute until the vegetables are crisp tender and onion is beginning to turn translucent.  

Add 2 Qts. water, chicken base, potatoes, bay leaves, dill weed, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  

Meanwhile, combine dough ingredients and knead until smooth and elastic.  I like to throw mine in my kitchen aide mixer and let the bread hook attachment do the work for me:)  Lightly flour your counter and gently roll out dough into a "rope" (approximately 1" in diameter).  Use a pizza cutter or knife to slice the dough in 1" increments.  As you slice, add the cut dumplings to the soup.  Let simmer for 5 more minutes.  

Combine cream of chicken soup and cream with a whisk.  Add to soup.  Let simmer for 2 more minutes.  



  1. Your soup looks and sounds really good, I love those dumplings!! Isn't food with a history great? I loved reading about your Grandpa! :o)

  2. I had the pleasure of living in Dickinson, ND for a short period of time where I first tasted this amazing soup. I've made it for friends all over the country and everyone loves it!!!

  3. My mom was from ontario canada...german area and she used to make knephlas in browned butter and sometimes with stewed tomatoes...always on we didnt eat meat on fridays back in the day...going to try to make these guys..and see if they are like hers...i remember she used to just whip these up with flour etc and put in bowling water...then either add the tomatoes or fry in browned good.

  4. I'm so glad I found your site. I lived for a brief time in Bismarck ND and discovered this wonderful soup. I received my original recipe from a friend who grew up in that area (which the recipe is almost identical to yours) but over the years I've tweeked my recipe just a hair by adding boiled chicken chunks to it also. This is one of my families favorites and I'm actually planning on making it tonight :)

  5. My mom's side of the family is German. She made these all the time and fried them in butter. I never knew the real name! We called them buttons for some reason.

  6. I'm pretty sure Knoephla the word translates to button. I'm German Russian Heritage and we ate this all the time. Either in soup, or fried in butter and bread crumbs. Or with sauerkraut over pork ribs..

  7. Being from Bismarck ND and my mother working at Knolls Kitchen, now Krolls Diner, we had Knoephla soup all the time. Every time I go back home I always stop in at Krolls and get a bowl of Knoephla soup.

  8. I was born and raised in Jamestown ND, if you ever find yourself driving through I94 on a thursday stop by and grab a bowl of theee best kneophla soup at the Depot Cafe. It will change your life, it is made everyday from what I can only guess is an old german wizard.

    1. My son (14 years old), significant other and I were talking about making soup this Sunday when my son suggested we make knoephla, my significant other, not being from ND, had never heard of it. I have never made it but for the sake of a knoephla virgin, I would definitely make it for them (thus bringing me to this site for a good recipe) My son's response was, "If you're going to have knoephla for the first time you have to have the good stuff- we have to take him to The Depot." I'm not sure if I should be offended by that comment or not... lol- BTW was your dad my art teacher? If so- he was the BEST!!

  9. I'm vegetarian. Do you think this would work with vegetable stock and maybe cream of mushroom soup? If not, any other suggestions?

  10. Oh my god, this is AWESOME! As a NoDak transplant currently in Montana I forgot how amazing knoephla soup is. This recipe is spot on!

    To the vegetarian poster, I've made it with veggie boullion and it is still delicious. I do not, however, add the cream-of soup based on personal preference.

  11. How do I make the soup thicker