Italian dumplings in broth

How Italians Perfected The Dumpling

Learn how to do as the Romans do by making perfectly light gnochetti en brodo.

September 9, 2015

We owe a world of wonderful textures to how hot water acts on starches. Italians know how to highlight the effect, combining  chicken broth, or brodo, with a handful of gnochetti, semolina dumplings. When the gnocchetti are added to the broth, energy from hot water melts the starch molecules, allowing them to absorb water, swell up, and turn soft and tender—a process called gelatinization.

Italian Dumplings In Broth
(Gnochetti en Brodo)

Serves 4


2 carrots, cut into 2" pieces
One 3½-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 rib of celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, unpeeled, quartered
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1. Bring broth ingredients and 9 cups water to a boil in an 8 quart pot. Reduce heat to low; simmer, skimming occasionally, 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour. 

2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, reserving chicken meat for another use. Cool and skim fat from the broth. You should have 7–8 cups. Return to a clean pot over high heat and reduce by half. Season to taste with salt. Keep hot. 

½ cup semolina flour
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 large egg
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Large pinch of kosher salt
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Chopped parsley or chervil, for garnish

1. Combine flour, butter, and egg in a small bowl; mix thoroughly. Add 4 tablespoons parmesan, salt, and nutmeg. Mix well to form a soft dough. Let rest for 15 minutes. 

2. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Using damp hands, pinch off teaspoon-sized pieces of dough and drop into the water. Keeping water at a strong simmer, cook dumplings until nearly white in the center and cooked through, 15–20 minutes. 

3. Using a slotted spoon, remove dumplings from water. Place 4 or 5 in each of 4 heated bowls. Ladle broth over top, top with herbs, and serve with parmesan on the side.