serves: 6 servings
I loved these golden dumplings as a child, and I enjoy them no less now. Try them not only in soup, but baked with cream and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or tossed with a light tomato sauce and fresh basil.
2 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup semolina flour
8 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, freshly chopped
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
With an electric mixer, beat the butter and egg yolks until smooth. Continue beating, adding the semolina slowly. If the mixture becomes too thick to beat with the mixer, fold in the remaining semolina with a rubber spatula. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk until they hold stiff peaks when you remove the whisk. Fold one third of the beaten whites into the semolina mixture to loosen the mixture slightly, and then fold in the remaining whites.
In a small saucepan bring 2 cups of broth to a boil over high heat. Adjust the level of heat to maintain the broth at a gentle boil. Dip 2 espresso spoons into cold water and use them to shape the semolina mixture into small oval dumplings (gnocchi). Scrape the gnocchi onto a small plate as you form them. Dip the spoons in water before making each dumpling. When you have made six gnocchi or so, slide them into the boiling broth. Cook until they rise to the surface, about 3 minutes. Continue boiling until they are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set on a plate. Continue forming gnocchi and poaching them until all are finished.
To serve, bring the remaining stock to a boil. (You may strain the gnocchi cooking broth into the remaining broth if you like.) Slip the cooked gnocchi into the broth and add the parsley. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle some of the broth and gnocchi into soup bowls or a tureen. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve.
NOTE: The gnocchi can be frozen before cooking: Shape them as described above, scraping them onto a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet as you form them. Place the baking sheet in the freezer. When the gnocchi are solid, transfer them to a sealable plastic bag. Cook them as needed, directly from the freezer. Frozen gnocchi will take a little longer to cook than freshly made ones; they will rise to the surface of the boiling broth in about 2 minutes and will be cooked through after about 8 minutes more.