Okay, this is the first and last post with a French title. I promise! (
maybe one can only hope wouldn’t rule it out?). Fall is in the air, folks. Don’t worry! I’m not going to go all sissy, sappy, American-Beauty-oh-the-electricity-in-the-air-can’t-you-see-it-in-the-plastic-bag on you. I do want to talk about autumn, though.
If you’re from Texas, “fall” doesn’t really mean anything to you. It means that less painful time between sweltering and sort of cold and leafless. I have to tell you, though, these New Englanders have got something on us when it comes to autumn. (If you’re scratching your heads, silly Texans, fall = autumn, that mythical season between summer and summer, where Hocus Pocus takes place.)
First of all, it is far more colorful than you can imagine. Literally, the trees are flames. People GO APPLE PICKING, and there are pumpkin patches where the pumpkins are still attached to the ground. By stems and roots and stuff. Let that wash over you. Now remember your sad Halloween costume from Target. Okay, sorry about that last part.
Secondly, fall is much shorter than you imagine–the leafy part anyway. As soon as the early leaves begin to go, you feel the bittersweet brevity of it. Already, leaves are swirling around your feet and the oaks haven’t even turned. It’s the season of nostalgia. I said I wasn’t going to get sappy (ha, sap, trees, get it?), so I’ll stop there.
Of course, I’ve only been here for one year, but when I asked a local about the general trajectory of the season, his response was, “I’m not really a big foliage guy.”
Most importantly, there’s Oktoberfest(s) in fall. I was at the Harpoon Oktoberfest this past weekend.
It was shiny inside, and I had never been surrounded by so much beer at once. Outside, it was a madhouse. There was a river of rain runoff mixed with beer. Literally, beer was pooling on the ground. I’ll spare you those photos. And they had this guy! He played till the cows came home–where did they find this band?
Veggie ‘n’ Parmesan Dumplin’ Soup
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf, dried
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1 cup fresh green beans, ends snapped off, sliced in 1-inch pieces
4 cups baby kale, no prep necessary (grown up kale works in a pinch, just cook it longer and make sure you remove the huge stalks, or sub spinach)
6 cups vegetable broth (I like I thought of broth in my soup–as little as 4 cups could work)
5 fresh basil leaves, julienned (that means sliced in skinny ribbons–do it your way, beauty is in the eye of the beholder?)Dumplings
2 cups self-rising flour (look, just do it and thank me later)
½ cup grated parmesan
½ teaspoon fresh-cracked pepper
¾ cups milkGarnish
Olive Oil1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy soup pot.
2. Sauté onion until translucent and sweaty (about 3 minutes). Add garlic, cook for one more minute. Add green beans. Cook for 3 more minutes until a lovely bright green.
3. Pour in broth. Add bay leaf. Bring to simmer. Let alone for a while.
4. Make dumpling batter. Mix cheese, flour, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl (give yourself room to stir). Pour in milk and whip as vigorously as possible with a large metal spoon. It should grow smooth eventually (smoother than the photo). If it is too dry, add more milk, but be careful. It should be extremely sticky — like, it shouldn’t come off the spoon without your finger, and it should not really come off your finger without soap and water. It’s really just trial and error with these. If the first one sucks, change up the batter.
5. Back to the soup. Add kale and tomato halves. Cook for another 3 minutes.
6. Dumpling time! With the soup at a high boil, drop little walnut-sized dumpling blobs into the soup. They should flower and swell up to almost double their size. If the whole top of the soup is covered with dumplings and you aren’t finished dropping them in, then save the rest of the batter for later. Let the dumplings cook for about 3 minutes at a high, rolling boil. If your water temperature goes down too much, you’ll need to cook longer.
Tips: Make one dumpling first, taste it, and then consider your batter. If you aren’t sure if the dumplings are done, break one in half. The inside should be fluffly like a cloud…well, like a biscuit.
To serve, put 3-4 dumplings in each bowl, depending on zeal for dumplings, and pour soup in. Squeeze with a lemon wedge and drizzle with olive oil (olive oil puddles! yum!).
They don’t recognize dumplins up here, kids, but don’t worry, I’m-a learn ‘em some knowledge. 🙂
And a song: