Coming from a family of Europeans (and I mean the real deal, have Austrian passports, sound like they stepped off the boat just yesterday – yet they have lived in Chicago for 50+ years) and foodies, I learned at a young age that – apparently – food is the way you show someone how you feel. Loving, sadness, spunky, classic, nostalgic, or… you miss something.
For me, although I do quite often miss my hometown, a lot actually, what I REALLY miss is my Oma’s incredible cooking. For those who understand this feeling – and I bet most do – no one, and I mean no one, can cook as well or as perfect as their grandmother. Well – I am no exception to this – my grandmother cooks like tomorrow is the last day on earth and you need to eat all of your favorite foods, now, and stuff yourself silly.
What happens when you can’t get that delicious lip smacking goodness all the time, because you live 2,000+ miles away? You get the recipe. That’s right. For me that recipe is my Oma’s homemade chicken soup, and unlike an American version, hers deals with scrummy tender farina dumplings, those funny veg better known as parsnips, and a long slow cooking time. I will admit, it’s never going to be as good or as perfect as when she makes it, but let me tell you, it does the trick to make me remember my roots, and helps quell that “I miss you familia” feeling. What sort of dishes fill this problem for you lot? I am always up for trying new things!
Oma Quintus’s Chicken Soup (her family recipe, with a few additions from me)
- 4 chicken legs and thighs, skin removed
- 4 Parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 2 Turnips or Rutabaga (Swede), peeled and chopped
- 1 Celery Root, peeled and chopped
- 4 to 6 Carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks Celery, diced
- 2 small Onions, diced
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 5 to 6 cups Water or Chicken Broth
- 1 tbsp Butter or Olive Oil
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 handful Parsley, chopped
For Farina Dumplings
- 1/2 cup Cream of Wheat (dry cereal)
- 1 Egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp Butter, softened
Heat the oil or butter in a large soup pot on medium high. Season your chicken, and brown chicken on both sides within pot. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add celery, onions and garlic to the pot and cook until vegetables appear soft, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add the carrots, cook for another 5 minutes. Place half of the parsnips, turnips/rutabaga, and celery root to the pan lay your chicken on top, and cover with remaining root vegetables. Sprinkle with a handful of parsley and add water/stock until everything is covered (an inch above your veg). Bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Let stew for 45 minutes, while making dumplings.
In a small bowl mix together butter, a pinch of salt, and cream of wheat with your hands to resemble breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg, and mix together with a fork. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. When soup has stewed for 45 minutes, add your dumplings. Take a small teaspoon and add a scoop of dumpling dough- one by one and not touching each other – to your simmering broth. Each should be the size of a medium-sized marble(these things really plump up as they cook! So try to not make them too big). Let stew for another 20 to 30 minutes, until all dumplings have plumped, and chicken is fall off the bone tender. Serve with fresh parsley on top, and some hearty crusty bread.