Traditional Liver Dumpling Soup

Leberknödelsuppe or liver dumpling soup is my favorite nourishing soup recipe and one we have almost every week. It’s prevalent in German, Austrian, Slovak, and Czech cuisine, and guess what? It’s kid-friendly! This delicious and budget-friendly soup can be considered a ‘hidden liver’ recipe as it tastes very mild.

A wooden bowl filled with 5 liver dumplings and beef bone broth. There is a loaf of sourdough bread next to the bowl.

Why You Should Make Liver Dumpling Soup

  • You’re looking for a liver recipe that doesn’t taste strongly like liver.
  • You’re looking for a hidden-liver or kid-friendly liver recipe.
  • You want to add more superfoods like liver into your diet and this is a very nutrient-dense soup. (See this article: why liver is a nutrient-dense superfood)
  • This recipe is cheap to make, so it’s very budget-friendly.
  • The ingredients can be found in most grocery stores.
  • This soup is very easy to make, and I provide you with step-by-step instructions and photos of the entire process.

My Slovak mother-in-law introduced me to this recipe for leberknödelsuppe or liver dumpling soup. It was taught to her by a German woman who is nearly 100-years old.

These women have raised and nourished children on soups like this for many decades. It is a liver recipe that children eat willingly. I’ve seen with my own eyes — kids LOVE this soup.

And yes, I know you’ve heard this before “this liver recipe doesn’t taste like liver at all!” Only to try the recipe and find that it does, in fact, taste strongly like the worst parts of liver.

Well, this one actually doesn’t. The flavor is mild, and the broth seeps into the dumplings, giving it an excellent taste for even picky eaters.

Start this soup the night before to give the dumpling mixture time to rest in the refrigerator.

Serve this soup as a starter or light lunch, or even dinner with crusty sourdough bread.

If you love this soup, you should check out my risotto recipe and my authentic coq au vin made with a rooster.

Ingredients

  • Liver | I use a mixture of chicken and beef liver, but you can use whatever you want. Chicken is the mildest. Chicken mixed with beef is a nice compromise. If you’re hesitant about any liver taste (or if using liver from an older animal) you should soak it in milk or buttermilk (even sour milk) for 2-6 hours to remove any unpleasant metallic taste.
  • Bread Or Bread Crumbs | A fantastic use for day-old or stale sourdough bread is to use it in this soup. I like to use the crust too and it gives a wonderful flavor. You can also use regular breadcrumbs and I provide instructions for both.
  • Egg | Used to bind the mixture.
  • Milk | Milk helps to soften the bread (if using) and it also aids in binding the ingredients. Milk alternatives should work too but I have never personally tried them.
  • Butter | Just a touch of butter is mixed into the dumplings, salted or unsalted.
  • Bone Broth | A high-quality flavorful homemade stock is needed here. I prefer beef, but you can use chicken stock too, or chicken feet bone broth.
  • Vegetables | Use what you have on hand that you enjoy in soups. I always add carrots and celery, and loveage when I have it.
  • Herbs | Parsley is my must-have addition, but other herbs like dill and sage are also lovely additions.
  • Seasoning | Simple seasonings like salt and pepper, obviously. But you can add things like red pepper flakes or some dried herbs too.

Equipment

A 1.5 inch cookie scoop helps to form the dumplings without getting your hands dirty, but I prefer o use two spoons (see the video below). Otherwise you need a food processor (preferred) or blender and a large stock/soup pot. If you do not have a food processor or blender you can use a sharp chef’s knife to mince everything finely but it will take longer.

Instructions (Step-By-Step)

 

1. The night before get the liver dumplings ready:

Chop your onions and parsley and cut your liver into small pieces. The liver should be free from any membranes or veins etc.

2. Then, get a large bowl and your bread and cut or tear it into small pieces. Moisten the bread with milk until it is damp but not soaking and leave it alone for 1-2 hours to fully absorb and soften, especially if using the crust. Be cautious, you can always add more if needed. The milk should be fully absorbed and not pooling.

3. Knead the bread until it is crumbly and falling apart, like a dry paste. Drain any excess milk.

If using bread crumbs instead of bread, instructions are the same, but the breadcrumbs will not need to sit.

 

 

4. In the food processor (or blender), pulse your onion and parsley until it is minced finely. 

 

 

5. Next you will add the whole egg, liver pieces, butter, a big pinch of salt and pepper, and the other seasonings. Pulse until smooth.

Finally, add the bread or breadcrumbs, all excess milk squeezed out.

6. The mixture should be loose but not runny (see video for visual representation of ideal texture). The liver to bread (or bread crumb) ratio is flexible and I find that I like both looser and firmer liver dumplings the same where the taste is concerned.

7. Put this mixture (covered) in the refrigerator overnight (8 hours and up to 24 hours).

8. The next day as you’re getting ready to make the soup, check the texture — is it firm? Or runny?

If firm with no liquid pooling? Like a homemade pate? You did it correctly. This step will come will practice and feel. And even if the mixture is too loose or too firm, the taste will be great.

If it is very runny — add more bread crumbs, about 1 tablespoon at a time until ideal texture is achieved.

 

 

9. When ready to prepare your dumplings, get your broth ready and simmering on the stove. Add any raw vegetables you may want at this time.

Keep in mind the dumplings will need 20 minutes to cook thoroughly, so add vegetables according to their cook time and in relation to timing the dumplings as well.

For example, I’ll add the carrots and celery 5 minutes before starting to add my liver dumplings. This way everything will cook at the same time.

 

 

10. Using a 1.5 inch cookie scoop, two spoons (see video), or your hands, quickly form your dumplings and drop them into the simmering broth, one by one.

11. Dumplings will be ready in about 20 minutes and they will float to the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Hint: Allowing the liver dumpling mixture to rest in the refrigerator overnight is best, but you can make this soup immediately too if you really want. Use a cookie scoop or two spoons to avoid getting your hands dirty.

Substitutions & Variations

Once you make this soup, I’m convinced it will become a favorite as it’s just such an easy and tasty recipe for liver. Here are some additional ways to change up the flavor profile of the broth or meat you may want to try out to keep it interesting.

  • Bone Broth | I prefer beef broth but chicken works too, as would a deeply savory and flavored mushroom and vegetable (especially onion) broth.
  • Spicy | add some red red pepper flakes into the liver mixture or broth.
  • Sauerkraut or cabbage | Add raw green or red cabbage into the broth at the same time as the other vegetables. Or add sauerkraut into bowls and pour soup over top.
  • Egg-free | you can omit the egg.
  • Gluten-free & grain-free | I have never personally tried this, but you can use gluten-free bread crumbs to make the liver dumplings. I do not know how to make it grain-free or if something like almond meal would work. If you try this please consider letting me now in the comments to help other people!
  • Vegetables | Add potatoes and/or whatever vegetables you enjoy in soup. The broth is versatile and you do not have to follow the traditional recipe each time. Use what you like and have on hand.
  • Barley | Pearl or hulled barley is an excellent addition. Just make sure to account for the extra cooking time of the barley accordingly.
  • Smoked meat | Smoked dried meat cooked to tenderness in the broth before the dumplings are dropped into the soup is a lovely addition. You can use dried smoked pork or turkey.

Storage & Freezing

  • Store the soup covered and refrigerated for as long as 5 days.
  • This soup does not freeze well, but the individual parts of it do.
  • Freeze raw liver dumplings (formed into balls) on a cookie sheet/baking tray lined with parchment paper in a single layer before transferring into a bag. They can remain frozen for 3 months and be cooked from frozen in hot simmering broth.

Video

Just a quick video to show you the proper texture and also how to form the dumplings.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Peasant’s Daughter | Homesteading | Keeping The Old Ways (@thepeasantsdaughter)

Top Tips

  • Some people will cook the dumplings separately in a small of amount of salted water to avoid turning the broth cloudy. I do not think this is necessary.
  • Bread or breadcrumb amounts are estimates, go with the look and feel of the mixture.
  • Do not fry the dumplings before adding them into the soup. This completely changes the flavor.
  • If you’re hesitant about the liver taste (or if using liver from an older animal) you should soak it in milk or buttermilk (even sour milk) for 2-6 hours in the refrigerator to remove any unpleasant metallic taste. Otherwise start with something mild like chicken liver, or a 50/50 mixture of chicken and beef liver.
  • Form raw liver dumplings and freeze them to always have a nutrient-dense superfood on hand for when you are busy.
  • This soup is fantastic for babies and toddlers transitioning onto solid foods.
  • This is a healing and strengthening soup for women after childbirth, I have dubbed it my “postpartum soup” as its the first thing I requested after both pregnancies.

Related Recipes

A wooden bowl filled with 5 liver dumplings and beef bone broth. There is a loaf of sourdough bread next to the bowl.

Traditional Liver Dumpling Soup

Traditional liver dumpling soup or Leberknödelsuppe is my favorite nourishing soup recipe — it's both budget-friendly and kid-friendly!
Prep Time: 1 day 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: European
Keyword: liver, offal, soups
Servings: 6
Calories: 256kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Equipment

  • Food Processor (or blender, and a sharp knife may also be used)
  • 1.5 inch cookie scoop (or you may use your hands or a spoons)
  • Large Pot

Ingredients

For The Liver Dumplings

  • 1 lbs liver (Cut into small pieces. Beef, chicken, or a mixture)
  • 3 cups stale day-old sourdough bread (Or 2 cups breadcrumbs — both of these are rough estimates and can be adjusted. Go with the look and feel of the mixture.)
  • 1 large onion (Yellow or white)
  • ¼ cup milk (With extra as needed)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon butter (Salted or unsalted)
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

For The Broth

  • 3 quarts beef stock (Chicken stock also works. Homemade flavorful stock is preferred)
  • 2 cups roughly chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • The night before:
    Chop your onions and parsley and cut your liver into small pieces. The liver should be free from any membranes or veins etc.
    Then, get a large bowl and your bread and cut or tear it into small pieces. Moisten the bread with milk until it is damp but not soaking and leave it alone for 1-2 hours to fully absorb and soften, especially if using the crust. Be cautious, you can always add more if needed. The milk should be fully absorbed and not pooling.
    Knead the bread until it is crumbly and falling apart, like a dry paste. Drain any excess milk.
    If using bread crumbs instead of bread, instructions are the same, but the breadcrumbs will not need to sit.
  • In the food processor, pulse your onion and parsley until it is minced finely. Then add the whole egg, liver pieces, butter, some salt and pepper, and the marjoram. Pulse until smooth.
  • Finally, add the bread or breadcrumbs, all excess milk squeezed out. Pulse until combined.
  • The mixture should be loose but not runny. Put this mixture (covered) in the refrigerator overnight (8 hours and up to 24 hours). 
  • The next day, check the texture — is it firm? Or runny?
  • If firm with no liquid pooling? Like a homemade pate? You did it correctly. This step will come will practice and feel. And even if the mixture is too loose or too firm, the taste will be great. See the video for reference to what the texture should be like.
    If it is very runny — add more bread crumbs, about 1 tablespoon at a time until ideal texture is achieved.
  • When ready to prepare your dumplings, get your broth ready and simmering on the stove. Add your raw carrots and celery, your bay leaf, simmer for 5 minutes before moving onto the next step.
  • Using a 1.5 inch cookie scoop, or two spoons (see video), or even your hands, quickly form your dumplings and drop them into the simmering broth, one by one.
  • Dumplings will be ready in about 20 minutes and they will float to the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
  • Depending on size of dumplings, 3-5 per bowl is a typical serving size.

Notes

Hint: Allowing the liver dumpling mixture to rest in the refrigerator overnight is best, but you can make this soup immediately too if you really want. Use a cookie scoop or two spoons to avoid getting your hands dirty.
Add whatever other vegetables you like to the broth, just take note of their cooking time in relation to the cooking time of the liver dumplings.
Substitutions & Variations
Once you make this soup, I’m convinced it will become a favorite as it’s just such an easy and tasty recipe for liver. Here are some additional ways to change the flavor profile of the broth or meat you may want to try out to keep it interesting.
  • Spicy | add some red red pepper flakes into the liver mixture.
  • Sauerkraut or cabbage | Add raw green or red cabbage into the broth at the same time as the other vegetables. Or add sauerkraut into bowls and pour soup over top.
  • Egg-free | you can omit the egg. The liver dumplings will be looser but it works.
  • Gluten-free & grain-free | I have never personally tried this, but you can use gluten-free bread crumbs to make the liver dumplings. I do not know how to make it grain-free or if something like almond meal would work. If you try this please consider letting me now in the comments to help other people!
  • Vegetables | Add potatoes and/or whatever vegetables you enjoy in soup. The broth is versatile and you do not have to follow the traditional recipe each time. Use what you like and have on hand.
  • Barley | Pearl or hulled barley is an excellent addition. Just make sure to account for the cooking time of the dumplings and time the barley accordingly.
Storage & Freezing
Store the soup covered and refrigerated for as long as 5 days.
This soup does not freeze well, but the individual parts of it do.
Freeze raw liver dumplings (formed into balls) on a cookie sheet/baking tray lined with parchment paper in a single layer before transferring into a bag. They can remain frozen for 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 6g | Calories: 256kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 214mg | Sodium: 1331mg | Potassium: 1375mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 20225IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 6mg
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Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I had never heard of this type of soup before I came across your recipe, but I’m so glad I did! You were right – the liver flavor was super mild and the soup overall tasted great!

  2. 5 stars
    Love it. When I was a kid my mom used to make chicken soup and add a bunch of chicken livers, me and my brothers will fight over those! This soup is so interesting to try for sure.

  3. 5 stars
    This is a delightful dish that warms both my heart and my stomach. The dumplings are tender and flavorful, while the broth is rich and comforting. It’s a wonderful meal that I now look forward to!

  4. 5 stars
    I am not a huge fan of liver, but your recipe has me intrigued! I always say how I like to try new things so I am going to put my money where my mouth is and give this recipe a try.

  5. 5 stars
    This soup was absolutely delicious! I went with a vegetable broth for now, think I’ll try a chicken broth next time. I’m currently due in December so I can’t wait to try this out postpartum! So thankful for such a nutritious recipe

    1. Thank you for your lovely feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed this soup, and you should definitely get some going postpartum — it was one of the first things I ate both times.