This is the wrong time of year for this recipe, but here it is nearly summer and we’re still getting lots of cold, damp days.
So it wasn’t entirely out of place to make this old-fashioned soup, one designed to feel warming and nourishing in the way that a bone broth is.
The inspiration for this has absolutely nothing to do with anything Paleo.
It’s an old German farmhouse recipe. It’s from a time when every part of a farm animal was used as a matter of course, both because people didn’t waste anything, but also because it’s healthy and delicious.
It was the perfect thing when you had a wood stove, because something like this would simply sit on it all day, quietly cooking away.
The dumplings are often served with a chicken broth, but for me the beef bone broth is perfect.
It’s surprisingly delicate for something that is very simple, and uses such basic ingredients.
Markkloßchen (bone marrow dumplings, in bone broth)
First get some beef marrow bones from your butcher. You want all of it including the ends (I had a couple of large bones cut into pieces), but the main bits full of marrow should be cut into short lengths.
Get some pieces of gravy beef or similar.
Scrape out the marrow into a small saucepan and set aside.
The bone broth
In a big stock pot put:
all the bones, including the scraped out sections
standard broth veg: celery end and leaves, leek, carrots, all chopped
enough water to comfortably cover everything
Let that cook gently for many hours. Start it early and let it cook all day, up to 24 hours if you can.
About 2½ hours before you want the broth, put in the gravy beef, and let that continue to cook gently.
Heat the marrow and let it melt (from that amount of bones, I had about 150g of raw marrow). It will look quite gungy as it melts, and there will be bits that don’t dissolve, and that’s fine. Strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl and let it cool.
Once it is properly cool and quite thick, beat it for several minutes (I used a
handheld electric mixer). The original instructions I have says “until frothy” but I suspect that’s a bad translation from German, since froth wouldn’t even vaguely describe what I got. I beat mine until it became pale and creamy, and you could see it had some air in it.
Add the following to the marrow, and then let the mixture stand for 30 minutes:
a little salt and pepper
½ tsp ground nutmeg
chopped parsley leaves and chives
enough fresh breadcrumbs (ground fairly fine) to make a mouldable mixture, but don’t shape the dumplings yet
½ tsp baking powder
Strain your broth. It will have a heavy layer of fat on the surface that you should ladle off.
Put the broth in a saucepan (you might not need to use it all. Set aside any extra and freeze, or keep for another day).
Bring it to the boil and adjust your seasonings, then reduce heat.
Shape the dumplings and put them gently into the just-simmering broth (It should not boil at this stage, the dumplings can break apart quite easily).
Cook for a few minutes. The broth at this stage should still just be simmering very gently – some movement in the liquid, but not rapid.
Verdict: The flavour is much more delicate and delicious than you might expect.