What the heck is knoephla soup and how do you say that “k” word?
Knoephla soup (pronounced neff-lah) is unique to North Dakota. Ask any North Dakotan about it and they’ll probably tell you their grandmother made the best knoephla soup in all of North Dakota. And no, you cannot have her recipe.
My first encounter with the soup was at the end of my first school year in Jamestown. About a week before finishing 8th grade, the teacher sent home a permission slip to take us on a field trip to the Depot Cafe to get soup for our last day.
An end of the year treats field trip wasn’t a new concept. When we lived in Michigan, every teacher took their class to the ice cream parlor downtown near the end of the year. So when this teacher said we were going to get soup I was 100% confused.
Who get’s soup to celebrate summer?
When we finally went, I was against the whole idea of soup on the last day and wasn’t even going to try it. The kids in class finally convinced me that I should try it and I ended up having two bowls it was so good!
Since the Depot only serves Knoephla soup on Thursdays I convinced Mom to take my sister and I the following week and we fell in love with a new dish.
Two years went by before I learned how to make my own version of knoephla.
It started off as a recipe I got in cooking class in high school. In time, I lost the recipe and went off what I remembered was in it. That’s usually how I cook, throw the ingredients in the pot and hope for the best while adding a dash of this and a splash of that.
It was never ever the same!
Sometimes it was amazing, other times it was barely edible.
I have been meaning to write down a recipe for years now so I can share it, but never had the motivation to figure it all out when I cooked.
This time around, Mom said it was one of the best variations of knoephla soup that I have ever made. She also always says a nice piece of chewy bread would be great (because all soup needs bread), but it is not necessary with this recipe.
Where Does Knoephla Soup Come From?
Over the years, we have always heard that it was a German soup. So when we finally went to Germany and met up with friends, we asked if they had heard of it. They didn’t have a clue what we were talking about.
We asked the Norwegian exchange student if he had heard of it before. He had not.
I think it might be a German from Russia recipe, but one thing I do know is that it is a dish unique to the Dakotas.
The Best Knoephla Soup Recipe
For the Soup
- 6 cups water
- 12 chicken bullion cubes (yes, 12 is correct!)
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup real bacon bits
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Accent
- 2 1/2 cups chopped celery (about 6 large stalks)
- 2 1/2 cups diced carrots
- 3 cups diced potatoes skin on or off (about 2 large)
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Knoephla Dough Recipe
- Add water and bouillon cubes to a large pot and let simmer for a couple minutes to allow the bullion cubes to dissolve.
- Chop parsley, add to post when the cubes have started to break apart.
- Add bacon bits, pink Himalayan salt, pepper, Accent to the mixture
- Dice potatoes, carrots, and cellary. Add to pot.
- Let it simmer on low for a 15 minutes before starting to mix the knoephlas.
- Put knoephla ingredients in a large bowl and knead until combined. Do not be afraid to add a bit more milk if the dough is too dry. Just a splash should do. Do not add extra flour if your dough is a bit wet after adding more milk.
- Once you are ready to add your knoephlas, bring the stove up to high so the soup has a rolling boil.
- Pinch off a half-dollar size of dough and plop it into the boiling soup. Stir when necessary. Continue doing this until the dough is used up.
- Let it simmer for five more minutes on medium heat while you clean the knoephla dough off your hands.
- Premix heavy cream and milk before adding to the pot. Stir one final time after adding cream and milk and your soup is ready to eat.
If you ever find yourself in Jamestown, North Dakota the best place in all of the state to get knoephla soup is the Depot Cafe.
Kroll’s Diner in Bismarck, Fargo, Mandan, and Minot also have a pretty good knoephla soup!
Many of the other locally owned restaurants have knoephla on their menu too. If you don’t see it, be sure to ask!
Have you heard of Knoephla Soup? Does your grandmother make the best? Would you try this recipe?
Tell me in the comments below or tweet me!