We The Italians | Italian cuisine: Succulent Italian Soup for the Soul

Italian cuisine: Succulent Italian Soup for the Soul

Italian cuisine: Succulent Italian Soup for the Soul

  • WTI Magazine #159 Jan 21, 2023
  • 904

In Italy, soups can be a light, elegant way to open an evening meal or large banquet. January is National Soup Month, and the perfect time to curl up with a cozy bowl of warming Italian broth. This month I’m sharing a recipe that’s lesser known outside of Italy, but perfect to enjoy while dreaming of a weekend in an elegant Italian ski chalet! 

Many regions of Northern Italy have strong Austrian roots. In the province of Trentino Alto Adige, for example, 40 % of the residents still speak German as a first language. Similar to Matzo Balls but made with bread, canederli are bread dumplings only found in the north-east of Italy (Trentino Alto Adige, Friuli, and part of Veneto), where they are served as a first course or as a main entree.

They are usually served in homemade broth, or pan fried and dressed in melted butter and chives. Try this recipe from Italian Recipes for Dummies the next time you’d like to transport your taste buds to the Dolomites!

Canederli/Bread Gnocchi in Broth from Alto Adige





          *        1 tablespoon unsalted butter

          *        1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

          *        2 cups cubed stale bread

          *        1/2 cup milk

          *        2 eggs, lightly beaten

          *        1/2 teaspoon salt

          *        1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

          *        1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

          *        1  f3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

          *        1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped, divided

          *        1/2 cup Fontina cheese, finely diced

          *        12 cups Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock, divided

          *        1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated, to serve


  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onion until lightly golden. Let the onion cool to room temperature.
  2. Place the bread cubes, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, and press down mixture with the back of a fork to incorporate milk with bread well.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour, half the parsley, and Fontina cheese, and mix well to combine. Add cooled sautéed onion, and mix well.
  4. Let the mixture rest for another half an hour covered with a tea towel. It should look uniformly moist and slightly sticky.
  5. Using your hands, form the canederli by pressing together enough of the mix to make balls the size of a small tangerine (about 2 inches in diameter). You should be able to produce 10 or 11 balls out of the entire mix.
  6. Place remaining 3/4 cup flour on a platter. After making each ball, roll it in flour to seal the outside and prevent the canederli from sticking to each other. Place on a large sheet of aluminum foil, wax paper, or cutting board. When all the canederli are ready, re-roll them into flour and reform them a second time.
  7. Bring 6 cups of the stock to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Taste it and adjust salt, if necessary. Place the canederli gently into the pot, reduce heat to medium-high. Boil the canederli for 12-15 minutes or until firm and floating. Discard stock.
  8. Bring remaining 6 cups stock to a boil. Place the cooked canederli in stock.

Serve in bowls -1 or 2 per person. Finish with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and remaining parsley.


Variations of this dish are common in all south-eastern Europe, where they are also served as an accompaniment to meat stews and roasts. The word canederli, in fact, derives from the German and Austrian knödel (dumplings).There are also sweet versions of the dumplings served for dessert.