Friday, January 21, 2011


Dumplings are a joy to eat for most people. They are simplicity itself to make, economical, filling and nutritious. By adding them to a soup (or stew) you will enhance it and turn a modest dish into a meal. They are especially good in winter when soups and stews seem to be at their most welcome. Come in from cold blasts over land, river or sea to a dish with dumplings and you will soon be warmed right through. Children love them.


You will need:

Flour (plain or self-raising)

Suet (that is, finely chopped or minced beef fat. Atora is a brand of it)

Salt and pepper

Herbal flavourings

Make your dumplings in the same way as suet crust pastry by combining twice the amount of flour, by weight or volume, to suet. Add some salt and pepper, stir together and then add cold water to form a stiff dough. Form this into balls, roughly the size of walnuts to golf balls, and drop them into the boiling soup or stew for 20 minutes to half an hour. They will then be ready to serve with the soup or stew. If you use self-raising flour the dumplings will be fluffier. With plain, they will take up less space and be chewier.

Consider putting lots of very small dumplings into soup. Two dessertspoons of flour to one of fat, with salt, when turned into dumpling mix with water will make 12 little dumplings. Two dessert spoons of flour to one of fat will make enough for two.

So good are dumplings that there will almost certainly be calls for more from a hungry family. So it is a good idea to add some more to the soup (or stew) as soon as you have served the first helping. Then, in 20 minutes or so, there will be more of them ready.

Plain dumplings may be best, but I favour them mixed with flavourings, like fresh or dried herbs, curry powder, chilli-con-carne powder, chopped onion, pressed garlic, English mustard, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, paprika, turmeric, chopped parsley, lemon or orange zest, and almost any dried herb or spice on your kitchen shelves. So here is an area in which to experiment. But start with plain ones.

Should you make too many for a meal, dumplings will heat up and be just as delicious when you want to eat the soup again.

Remember to boil up the soup every day – especially in warm weather. And keep adding to it any leftovers chopped-up, or the remains of stews or curries cut up with kitchen scissors. For extra liquid, add tea from the pot (not milked or sugared). And the addition of a stock cube may be necessary every so often.