I've finally settled on my favorite soup as a child - and one which I still love today (though I seldom make it): Mother's Tomato Soup and Dumplings. (The more DUMPLINGS in my bowl, the happier I was)! I have tried repeatedly to come up with a vegan equivalent of the dumplings which contain butter and eggs, but never been completely successful in producing a soup as wonderful as mother's. Simple, yet extraordinary. Usual ingredients, unusually prepared.
Those acquainted with "pate a choux" will note that the dumpling mixture very closely resembles the pastry dough used to make eclairs and cream puffs. In this unique recipe, the dough is dropped into a kettle of simmering soup, which is then quickly covered and left UNDISTURBED for 20 minutes (VERY IMPORTANT)! Refraining from lifting the lid was always the hardest part for me as a child; but mother always warned me I MUST NOT PEEK, or the dumplings - which magically grew from small spoonfuls of dough to great puffs that all but lifted the lid - would fall! And so I would impatiently wait...they were a L-O-N-G 20 minutes...well-rewarded!
32 ounces tomato juice (4 cups)
2 (10 1/2-ounce) cans condensed tomato soup
1 bay leaf
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup oil
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
5 large eggs
To make the soup:
In a Dutch oven, combine all of the soup ingredients; over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Meanwhile, prepare the dumpling batter.
To make the dumplings:
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, oil, water and salt; over high heat, bring to a boil.
Stir in the flour to make a thick, smooth paste; remove from the stove.
Working quickly, so that too much heat is not lost, add the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously with a fork after each one, until the mixture is smooth. (See Parting Shots).
Immediately, using another teaspoon or finger, push the dough off the tip of a wet teaspoon into the boiling soup.
Cover and simmer, over medium heat, for 20 minutes. (Do not lift the lid - even for a tiny peek - during this time, or the dumplings will fall).
Before serving, remove and discard the bay leaf.
Variation: My Aunt Betty, mother's sister, alters the recipe slightly by stirring in a can or two of drained chickpeas into the tomato mixture, and bringing it to a boil, of course, before adding the dumpling dough. (I like the soup both with and without the chickpeas -- they do add some fiber and additional protein. But Mother's soup was always just tomato, subtly seasoned with the single bay leaf).
Source: LuAnn's mother, Effie Marie; Recipe written and posted by LuAnn Bermeo, author of Amazing Meals I and II for KRT.
My mother obtained this recipe in the 1930's from the cafeteria cook in the Midwestern college cafeteria where my mother and father met as young college students. In all these years, I have only seen a similar recipe in print one time - in a magazine article authored by a university nutrition instructor (and shirttail relative), who identified it as an heirloom recipe from Seton, Illinois. Interestingly, Seton plays a role in my mother's genealogy. Whatever its origins, I fondly remember Tomato Soup with Dumplings as a quintessential example of comfort food from my mother's kitchen. (I miss you, my dear Mother).