Pennsylvania Dutch Rivel Soup

What is Dutch Rivel Soup? This is a soup my mother in law and her family have been making for years. I am not sure where the recipe came from, but I am guessing that it originated in the NE area of the US, therefore the name Pennsylvania Dutch Rivel Soup.

This soup is about as simple and frugal of a soup as you can make. It is definitely an old fashioned recipe. This is from a time when meals were simple, but hearty. A time when the cook used everything and wasted nothing.

This soup in similar to a southern dumpling recipe. I know all you true southerners are probably yelling, it is not! It is nothing like a dumpling. But yes, it is the same idea.

In this recipe though you use eggs in the dough. I have never seen a southern dumpling with egg in it, maybe there is a recipe out there, but not that I have seen. This is also has a little smaller of a “noodle” in it than a dumpling. It reminds of dumplings because of how it thickens up. In my opinion this is better and easier then dumplings. But what do I know, I came from the OR, the land where dumpling and Rivels are not known.

The recipe calls for chicken broth, but I made it with my turkey broth. It is good both ways. If you use homemade broth I suggest adding some salt to it to give the final product a better flavor. I also like to put a little meat in this. Yesterday I used turkey but you can also use chicken. For the most frugal and easiest version leave out the meat. If you want a heartier soup add the meat.

This post link to Vintage Recipe Week.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Comments

  1. This sounds very interesting to me, and I know my dumpling-biscuit-cracker-bread loving husband would adore this soup. One question, do you ever add veggies to the broth? Seems like an easy addition, just sauteing some in butter and adding the broth. I just may try this!

    Oh, and have you tried whole wheat flour?

    • @Suzanne, I have never added any vegetables to it, but I think you easily could. But I would saute them first since this does not cook for very long. And no I have never tried whole wheat in this one. I think you could but I would start with 1/4 or 1/2 of the flour as whole wheat.

      • Jacque Brooks says:

        I learned to make rivels when I was 10 in my German Grandma’s kitchen ( I’m 64)! She usually made them with home canned beef. When they butchered she would cold packed the scraps and small pieces. She made her rivels strictly with beef, but I have used chicken, venison, and turkey. My family prefers the beef or chicken. We also eat ours over mashed potatoes hence the “Lazy Noodle” name. In fact I just make a huge pan and divided them up and took them to family last week. So far neither of my daughters or granddaughter knows how to make them, Mom’s (Grandma’s) are always better. I hope to teach at least one of them how to make them so this wonderful comfort food is not lost to future generation of my family.

        • I have never had a beef version, but I will have to try that. Thanks for sharing how you make it. And yes, you should teach at least one of them how to make them. Passing down recipes is so important and so fun. There are several recipes of my grandmothers that I wish I had, but never got. Hopefully, one of them will want you to show them how to make them.

          • Jacque Brooks says:

            I have my grandma’s hand written (she started it at 15) cookbook, if you think of a recipe I may have it. Feel free to ask, If I have something even close I will be glad to send it to you. I hope you enjoy the beef rivels!

          • What a treasure to have a cookbook like that!

  2. We grew up on this in Okla. It was my great-g-mothers, to g-mother, to mother’s recipe. We called it “doodles” (as they were dumpling/noodle soup). The main difference instead of little rice-sized nibblets (as if pushed through a strainer as I’ve heard some do) they use a table spoon and drop dollops of batter into the boiling broth. The end result is the same flavor but with someone a little more substantial to “gnaw on”.

    The surprise they got when they found that it was a Penn Dutch recipe was something to see. They had no idea. Later family tree work showed that link to their side of the family. The recipe was an oral tradition for which they had no clue about the origin.

  3. My mother used to make the plain version of this with milk for breakfast. We called it Farmer’s Rice. I’m curious, though, since my wife has celiac, whether the rivel part of this could be adapted somehow with gluten-free ingredients. Any ideas?

    • @Rafael, This is one of my husband’s favorite soups, so I am going to attempt a gf version, I just have not done it yet. If it works, I will definitely post it on my allergy gf site.

      • @Lynn,

        Oh I am just going GF and the only thing I am super sad about is missing rivel soup! If you do make your GF I would love to know the results. What is your GF site?

  4. I was happy to find this recipe. My mother made this soup- we called it chicken rivelli (with a “y” sound ending) soup. She also added chicken hearts but no other chicken meat. We would fight over the hearts. Today, chicken hearts sound very unappealing to me but back then we loved them.
    I’ve played with trying to replicate her recipe and came close. Your photo looks exactly how I remember it.
    Can’t wait to try your recipe and share it with my sisters. Thanks!

  5. I’m from central PA, and we put rivels in our chicken corn soup. Something like this we call pot pie, and we make it with different ingredients – ham broth and diced ham, or beans, or both. To use rivels, we cook chicken, shred it, add it back to the broth, and add corn (usually that we blanched and froze during the summer). Then we let it simmer for just a bit and add a small amount of rivels right near the end. It’s FABULOUS! Simple and yummy!

  6. I just had to stick my two sense worth in. I’m Southern, my grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch and we grew up on dumplings and rivels. Yes they taste similar. I love both. My mom and grandmother made chicken soup, but mom never learned to make dumplings because rivels were easier. They also put it in potato soup which is yummy.

  7. I make a potato soup that my grandmother taught me to make, and it has rivels. You dice however many potatoes you need, cover them with water, and simmer until soft. Use a hand held potato masher to somewhat mash the potatoes. You don’t want mush though, and you don’t drain the water. Add 2 – 3 T of butter, and pour in some milk (about 2 – 3 cups). Make your rivels. I always eyeball about 1 1/2 cups of flour, and use 1 egg. I also add some salt and pepper to the flour. Cut the egg into the flour with a fork to make the rivels. Bring the soup to a simmer and slowly add the rivels. Stir well, and slowly simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes. At the end, I salt and pepper to taste. With no other seasonings, it requires quite a bit of salt.

    So simple, and so yummy! I totally plan to teach my boys how to make it so it can continue to be passed down. They’re 5 and 2 right now, and they both love it. My grandmother passed away 4 1/2 years ago, and I’m SO thankful she taught me how to make this comfort food from my childhood.

    • Jen, your recipe with potatoes and rivels is the closest I have come on the Internet to my grandmother’s recipe. The only difference is that we added the milk to our bowls at the table. I learned to make it when I was about 9 from my grandmother who is of Pennsylvania-Dutch descent, she is 97 years old and thrilled to know I still make it. We have found that the men in our family are not as fond of it as the women are, a man who likes rivel potato soup is a keeper.

  8. My Grandmother on my Mom’s side was pure Austrian and her parents came from a village about 3 miles from where Arnold Schwarzenegger was born. I grew up eating this soup on visits and my Mom always talks about it but can’t remember how to make it! A few years ago I asked her how to make ” Piggy Soup” as my grandmother always referred to the chewy dumplings as “piggies”. However, Mom didn’t realize that I meant rivels and unfortunately my grandmother died in 1964 from a long illness. I only found this out because I was looking for rivel soup recipes to make some for her as she’ll be 80 soon. Rivel soup was something they ate on certain days (with homemade bread) and it was one of the ways they stretched their rations; they put no actual chicken in their version, just broth and I think some carrots. Can’t wait to make some “piggy soup” this weekend!

  9. The Pennsylvania Dutch people were of German or Dutch descent. All of these recipes are variations of the German recipe for spatzle. They either run the thin spatzle dough through what looks like a potato ricer which makes the thin style noodle or though a spatzle maker which chops the dough off in little chunks into boiling broth or water. Then they do various things with it. If in broth it goes into soup much like we do noodle soup or they fry it and serve it with brown gravy or serve it fried with a side of apple sauce or put it in a cheese sauce much like we do macaroni and cheese. I grew up with rivels in potato soup made the way Ann’s grandmother made hers. I knew my ancestors were Pennsylvania Dutch but didn’t realize how many of the recipes my mother used were Pennsylvania Dutch recipes until I started reading stories about the Amish. Then I married a German man and found many of the recipes his mother made were the same as the Pennsylvania Dutch recipes my mother made.

  10. Becca Brehm says:

    My mom (and her mother) made this often especially during the winter. She always used beef stock and beef and added some celery/.celery leaves. I like to sprinkle Lawry’s Season salt on my bowl of soup..

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