Liver Dumpling Soup
Liver Dumpling Soup
People hear the word liver and they are often like “immediately NO”. While I can understand the aversion to it, I feel the need to point out that beef liver is one of the world’s superfoods. Beef liver is nutrient dense and has numerous health benefits. In addition to liver’s good vitamin profile, animal livers such as beef liver are also rich in minerals, including zinc, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and copper. These minerals are good for the body in so many ways. I grew up eating liver with all the fixings like fried onions, mashed potatoes, gravy and bacon. I was rarely, if ever sick as a child and hardly ever sick now as an adult. This liver dumpling soup, is a soup anyone from the southwest side of Chicago grew up eating. Liver dumpling soup is a perfect soup for those who want to eat liver, but do not prefer the texture of traditional fried liver.
Growing Up On The Southwest Side Of Chicago
I grew up in an all Polish community on the Southwest side of Chicago known as Archer Heights/Garfield Ridge. For reference, they are the neighborhoods that surround Chicago’s Midway Airport. The community was rich in Polish and European culture. Polish restaurants, Polish grocery stores, Polish Catholic churches and more. Hardly anyone that was part of the older generation spoke English. You would be in your yard in the warm Summer months and you could look left and right and see all the Busia’s in their yard, in their oldest bras (because it was laundry day) hanging their clothes out to dry on the clothesline. So many great memories growing up in this community.
Our neighboring communities were also predominantly Czech or Bohemian. Therefore a lot of culinary influence came from these similar, yet different cultures. The suburbs just next door to Archer Heights and Garfield Ridge were Berwyn and Cicero, which consisted of Czech, Bohemian and German families. Back then there were so many Bohemian restaurants that my family enjoyed. Riverside Restaurant which is no longer there, Moldau Restaurant in Brookfield, Il, and Klas Restaurant in Cicero, IL. were all restaurants that we loved. Liver Dumpling Soup was a staple at all of these.
All of these restaurants are sadly long gone. Therefore, I have bene making my own liver dumpling soup for a couple of years now. The beauty of this recipe is that it is easy, affordable, delicious and healthy. What we call “dumplings” will actually be more recognizable to you as meatballs. They are called dumplings because they are dropped into a pot of boiling broth to cook them and they float to the top when they are done. I make my own bone broth for this recipe, which is included in the full and printable recipe linked below. But you are welcome to make this recipe with cartons of broth to make it easier on yourself. I prefer the homemade bone broth, because it adds a layer of gut healthy bone broth.
Where To Get The Liver
I buy my liver at a little local market in Chicago in the Rogers Park community. Beef Liver is available everywhere in Chicago. If you live elsewhere, you can ask your local meat counter and/or any ethic grocery stores will have it as many cultures eat liver as a staple. If the idea of blending up the liver at home as my recipe calls for, is hard for you to do, you can ask your local meat counter to grind it up for you. The butcher will prefer to do this at the end of the day so that they don’t have to clean the grinder in the middle of the day so you may have to order ahead of time. Let the butcher know you don’t mind if they grind it up on a machine that’s ground other meat. You mix the beef liver with ground pork so it is ok for it to be ground on a machine with other meat like pork or beef.
Grinding The Liver At Home
I buy my beef liver in slices, I slightly freeze it and put it through my food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender. Freezing it creates some texture that makes it easier to chop in a blender to processor. Then you add this liver to the ground pork (you can sub ground beef if you don’t eat pork).
Liver Dumpling Soup
- For The Liver Dumplings
- 1 lb of beef liver
- 1.5 lbs of ground pork
- 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup of fresh parsley, minced
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 2 teaspoons of white pepper (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon of onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon of paprika
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- For the Broth
- 3 cups of chopped carrots
- 3 cups of chopped celery
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 3 Bone In beef Shanks, or Beef Soup Bones
- 20 Cups of water
- 2 Tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon, beef or veggie flavor
- Salt, Pepper, Garlic and Onion Powder
- *Optional, 3 to 4 cups of cooked noodles, I use Polish Egg Noodles
- For the liver, you can ask the butcher to grind it for you at the store. They sometimes like to do this at night, right before they close and clean the machine. So you may have to order it ahead of time. You can also tell them you don't mind of it's ground on the machine where other meats have been ground. If you don't feel comfortable asking, bring the liver home, place in freezer for a couple hours so it is slightly frozen, but not frozen solid. You can use a food processor or blender, pulse until it is chopped up finely. Bring slightly frozen helps. There will be red liquid. This is NOT blood. It is the healthy part of the liver. Don't freak out.
- Add the ground liver to the ground pork and all of the other ingredients listed for the liver dumplings. Combine well, don't over mix.
- I make my broth ahead of time and bring to a low boil on the stove. If you do not want to follow the steps below to make the broth, you can buy store bought broth. My recipe is more nutrient dense.
- When your broth is boiling on low, drop the liver dumplings by the spoonful into the boiling liquid. You can also use a cookie scoop to do this. the liver dumpling balls should be about 2 inches big.
- Stir carefully while they boil, they are done when they float to the top.
- Cook your noodles and keep them separate. Add them to soup when serving. Top with fresh parsley.
To Make Your Own Broth
- Season the beef shanks on all sides with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.
- Add to a skillet with butter or oil and sear on all sides for a few minutes.
- Add the beef shanks or bones to a large stock pot with the water, veggies, and bouillion, cook on low, 4 to 6 hours. Strain the beef and veggies out and use the stock for the liver dumplings.
- I follow the same process above, but cook in my instant pot for 240 minutes on high, let it naturally release for 10 minutes. Then strain. You can also cook on low in a crock for 24 hours.
* You can chill and strain the fat off if you prefer as well.