Welcome to week 39 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome North Dakota, who joined the union on November 2, 1889. The area of North Dakota was acquired (along with a lot of other states, if you read my blogs!) as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It was originally part of the Minnesota and Nebraska territories, but broke off into the Dakota Territory in 1861. Now you will see that next week, South Dakota has the exact same date for statehood. And although North Dakota is almost always listed first, no one knows for sure which state was actually admitted first. There was a fierce rivalry to see which state would be admitted first so on the day of the signing, President Benjamin Harris actually selected the bill order randomly and did not officially record which one was signed first. So no one (except a dead president) ever knew which one was admitted before the other.
Of the many states that I have (and have not) visited, North Dakota is actually one I have been to. You see, I used to work for a travel company whose owner developed a fondness for the area after reading about the many problems that farmers faced in the late 1980s. He decided to set up a data center in a small town called Linton and hire people from the local community. All positions started as part time, and only one person per family was hired to insure the jobs were shared equally. It was such a success that the center grew, many people were hired full time and the owner even expanded in the area to include a luxury team building and conference center called the Rivery. The state was so thrilled with how well Linton did that they offered great incentives to expand, and this is where I got to go to ND. We opened offices in Fargo and Dickinson, and I went there during the training and set up processes to help with their automation. I remember that the people were really nice, the land was pretty flat, and the best hotel in town was a Holiday Inn. Interestingly enough though, I didn’t have the dish that I made tonight. Or at least I don’t remember it if I did.
I think I would have remembered this one, especially because it has a very odd name. It is by far “THE” dish of North Dakota, and it is called Knoephla Soup. Pronounced Nip-Fla (I know you just tried it! Roll that P into the F), it is a sort of creamy chicken and dumpling soup brought over from German Russians who emigrated into the region around the same time as those who settled in Nebraska. The word knoephla comes from the German word Knöpfle, which means little knob or button. The dumplings, which are rolled and cut from dough look a little like a knob, so I guess that is why it is called that.
The soup is actually really good. It has a nice balance of richness to flavor and the large amount of vegetables keeps it from getting too thick on the mouth feel. It takes a bit of work to get the dough just right (it was really sticky, had to add much more flour) but once you got everything prepped, it only takes about 30 minutes to actually cook it. Everyone in the family really liked it. I have to say it is not a soup I would make in hot and humid weather again, but come the dead of winter, I think I will pull this one out again.
Overall, this gets a solid A. I hope if you have a little time and the weather is a little cooler, you will give it a try too.
See you all next time in South Dakota!
Recipe for Knoephla Soup:
For the Knoephla Dough –
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups (or more) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the dumplings
For the Soup –
1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter
3 medium carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups yellow potatoes, diced (about 5 medium)
4-5 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked chicken (I used rotisserie)
Salt and pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 can evaporated milk
- Make the knoephla dough: Whisk together the egg, baking powder, salt and water. Slowly stir in the flour with a fork until the dough forms a ball. Incorporate flour by hand until the dough resembles a dough that is softer than bread dough and slightly stickier. Cover and rest for about 15 minutes. Roll into ropes and cut into small dumplings (I used kitchen scissors). Spread the dumplings onto a sheet pan and dust well with flour so they don’t stick together.
- In a large pot, sauté the carrots, celery and onion in the olive oil and butter until softened. Season with salt, pepper and the garlic powder.
- Cover with stock and add potatoes.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
- When the potatoes are tender, add the cooked chicken.
- Add as much evaporated milk as you’d like to make it creamy. Recheck your seasonings and adjust. Bring the soup back up to a simmer.
- Drop in the dumplings. Cook them for about a minute or so. The soup will probably thicken slightly from the dumplings and their flour. If it becomes too gloopy, thin it with a little stock or water.