Taste: The Dakotas' best-kept food secret? It's knoephla soup

·4 min read
Knoephla soup is a great option during the winter months.
Knoephla soup is a great option during the winter months.

We’re right in the thick of soup season, and I love it.

Soup is just the best. It has range — soup can be a snack or a meal or a great addition to a meal.

It’s a course all on its own, and it’s a hug in a bowl. It pairs well with both salads and sandwiches.

I love to make ridiculously large amounts of soup and eat leftovers for days.

Knoephla soup is both warm and filling, making it one of the best to keep reheating.

I didn’t grow up eating knoephla. While there is some Germans from Russia influence in the Red River Valley, the only time I ever really heard about knoephla was on the Kroll’s Diner commercials.

At the end of those commercials, a white-haired woman would command watchers “sit down und eat” at the Fargo-based eatery.

When I moved to Dickinson, N.D., knoephla was easy to find. Not unlike Aberdeen, there is a pretty big Germans from Russia population, and knoephla was a common item on the menu at local restaurants.

Knoephla is personal. This is a basic recipe, but I feel like every family has put their own spin on it. Maybe the broth, dumplings or both have added herbs and spices. Maybe bacon, chicken or even smoked pheasant is added to the dish.

But there are some things that are constant in the soup. Creamy broth, flavorful vegetables and dense dumplings mean this dish is not messing around.

It can be as simple or as complicated as the cook would like to make it. Use stock from a carton or homemade, buy pre-chopped mirepoix or raw vegetables that need a knife.

Either way, the finished product will keep anyone warm when the snow is coming down and the wind is blowing.

One thing I really like about knoephla soup is that the basic version doesn’t have chunks of meat in it. I don’t know why, but when I have dumpling soup, I don’t want meat competing with the dumplings.

Because chunks of meat aren’t a key component, it’s very easy to make a vegetarian version of this soup — just swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock. This makes it a great Lenten meal or something to try for meatless Monday.

Knoephla is one of those dishes that defines the Dakotas. Those who never make their way here and dismiss us as “flyover states” are missing out on many things, and knoephla is one of them.

Knoephla soup



  • 5 tablespoons butter.

  • 1 cup chopped onions.

  • 1 cup chopped carrots.

  • ½ cup chopped celery.

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour.

  • 2 bay leaves.

  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth.

  • 2 pounds potatoes, cubed.

  • 1 cup heavy cream.

  • Salt and pepper.

Knoephla dumplings

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour.

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder.

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt.

  • 1 cup milk.

  • 1 egg.


Melt butter in a large soup pot on medium heat.

Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery. Cook until the onions are soft, three to four minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds

Stir in the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring continuously., then add the chicken broth, bay leaves and potatoes. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

While the soup simmers, prepare the knoelpha. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk the egg and milk in a small bowl or measuring cup, then fold into the flour using a rubber spatula. The dough will be shaggy.

Once combined, knead for five minutes by hand on a floured surface or knead using the dough hook of your electric mixer on low speed.

Roll dough about a half-inch thick, then slice into roughly half-inch squares. Perfection is not needed here. Drop the dough dumplings one at a time into the soup, then cook for about five minutes until the dumplings rise to the surface of the soup.

Stir in heavy cream and cook until heated through. Remove the bay leaves then taste the soup and add additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Recipe adapted from State of Dinner at https://stateofdinner.com/knoephla-soup/.

This article originally appeared on Aberdeen News: For winter months, knoephla soup is a great meal option