A Rainy Day Dinner.

It’s been raining a lot lately here in Massachusetts, and I hate it.  You would think that instead of bemoaning the torrential and nonstop downpour, I’d at least be celebrating the fact that most of this winter’s precipitation has come in the form of rain rather than snow — sorry, DC — but we know the truth: I’d be grumpy with snow, too.

I am just not a cold weather person.  Then again, I’m not a warm weather person either.  I hate humidity and perspiring and feeling sticky with sweat.  Ugh, I’m getting irritable just thinking about it.  If it were possible, I’d live somewhere with only spring and fall so I could have both new leaves budding above my head in the trees and old leaves crumpling under my feet in the street.

Since that’s not possible anywhere but in my dreams, I’ll begrudgingly accept winter.  We’ll never be friends or anything; I’ll firmly shut the door in her face whenever she comes around, and if she somehow still manages to get into the apartment, I’ll chase her right back out again with a dinner such as this — and maybe a degree or two increase on the thermostat.

The key to this dish is the idea of the do-ahead.  If you’re one of those well-organized, put-together people who apparently really do exist in this world, then you’ll make the soup one day and the dumplings the next (or vice versa).  Don’t get me wrong — this is an easy meal to make.  It’s just a bit messy and uses a lot of pots and pans and skillets, and I personally try to avoid dealing with a whole boatload of things to clean after preparing a meal.  I like to clean as much as I can as I go; this recipe, unfortunately, won’t really let you do that, particularly if you do what I did and make the dumplings while the mushrooms browned and the leeks gave up their opacity.

No matter what route you take, the do-ahead or the do-while, the results will be the same: delicious.  And they might just make you forget about the weather.  Maybe.

Mushroom + Leek Soup with Parsley Dumplings, from Bon Appétit
Makes six to eight portions

for the soup
2 cups water
¾ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Fine sea salt
3 tablespoons dry Sherry
1 ½ cups chopped onion
3 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only, from about 2 large leeks
8 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken stock)
Pinch of cayenne pepper

for the dumplings
¾ scant cup low-fat cottage cheese
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

for the soup

  1. Bring 2 cups water and porcini mushrooms to boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat, cover, and soak 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to work surface; slice thinly. Reserve cooking liquid.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add crimini mushrooms and thyme; sprinkle with sea salt and sauté until mushrooms are browned, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add Sherry; stir until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Set mushroom mixture aside.
  3. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons oil in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until translucent and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Add leeks; reduce heat to medium, sprinkle with sea salt, and sauté until vegetables are soft and golden, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
  4. Bring broth to simmer in large pot over medium-high heat. Pour in reserved mushroom cooking liquid, leaving sediment behind. Add all mushrooms, onion mixture, and cayenne. Simmer 1 minute to heat through. Season to taste with salt. (Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.)

for the dumplings

  1. Purée cottage cheese in mini processor until smooth. Using electric mixer, beat 3 tablespoons butter and eggs in medium bowl. Add cottage cheese, ½ cup flour, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and nutmeg; beat on low speed just to blend. Stir in ½ cup flour, cheese, and parsley.
  2. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Using teaspoon, scoop piece of dough about size of cherry. Holding spoon just above boiling water, use second spoon to push dough into water. Working quickly, repeat about 10 more times. When dumplings rise to surface, simmer until cooked through, 2 ½ to 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to large plate. Repeat with remaining dough. (Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, add dumplings to skillet. Cook until brown in spots, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. Bring soup to simmer. Divide dumplings among wide shallow bowls. Divide soup among bowls and serve.