Spaetzle Soup the Easy Way

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

To me, homemade pasta in broth is the ultimate comfort food. But say homemade and everyone seems to run for the hills, assuming that the challenge will be overwhelming. Spaetzl free-form mini-dumplings that cook like noodles require no rolling or cutting and so are easier to make than mashed potatoes.

2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, minced

2 quarts vegetable stock

2 cups all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper,

3 eggs

1 cup milk, plus more if needed

Chopped parsley or chives for garnish

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

01 Put the butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, a minute or two. Add the stock and bring it to a boil.

02 Meanwhile, combine the flour with a large pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper in a bowl. Lightly beat the eggs and milk together in another bowl and add to the flour, stirring. If necessary, add a little more milk until the mixture has the consistency of thick pancake batter.

03 Keep the stock at a steady but not violent boil. Scoop a tablespoon or so of batter and drop it into the stock; small pieces may break off, but the batter should remain largely intact and form a disk. Repeat, using about one-third to one-fourth of the batter to avoid crowding the spaetzle. When the spaetzle rise to the top a couple of minutes later (you may have to loosen them from the bottom, but they will pop right up), they will be done. As they finish, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to serving bowls.

04 Continue cooking the spaetzle until all the batter is used up. Then ladle the broth over them. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning, then sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately, passing Parmesan at the table.