Crumb Soup is an austere little recipe tucked away in the Vegetables and Soups section of Our Favorite Recipes. In my comings and goings I’ve encountered several variants of a peasant soup using day-old bread as the base, and from the title this was what I expected. What I found instead was a very simple pasta soup, where the ‘crumbs’ are made fresh from eggs, flour, and salt. The pasta dough is very dry and dropped as ‘crumbs’ into boiling water instead of being formed into shapes. The end result is a thick, chewy ‘pasta’ soup that resembles a porridge or rice congee more than a traditional soup.
I don’t have a lot of context beyond the author’s name, Mrs. Schlesser, who provides the recipe without a specific serving suggestion. Her other submissions are either sides or sweets, so it’s hard to infer what a typical meal in her house would look like. My best guess is that this is a simple weeknight meal, warm and comforting for a cold Wisconsin winter. The porridge-like qualities also make it a plausible choice for breakfast.
I can only recommend this recipe as a novelty. The texture is unique as is the approach to “pasta” but this isn’t going to make it into my weeknight rotation anytime soon. As written it’s unbearably salty, and if you back off on the salt it’s impossibly bland. The version I’ve presented below has much less salt and a dash of black pepper and a pat of butter to liven things up, but temper your expectations.
For the broth:
For the pasta:
- Bring salted water to a rolling boil in a large pot. When you add the crumbs the soup will have a tendency to boil over, so ensure you have plenty of headroom.
- In a medium bowl beat the egg, then add the salt and flour and stir with a fork until you've incorporated as much flour as you can. Mix in the remaining flour with your hands. You'll be tempted to add more liquid but don't - your intended goal is a dry, hard, pasta dough.
- Add the dough gradually to the boiling water, sifting with your fingers to break up any unappetizingly large chunks. The soup will be unavoidably lumpy, but you want to avoid any crumbs larger than a pea. Stir constantly at a boil for about 5 minutes, removing from heat when necessary to prevent boiling over.
- Remove from heat and stir in the milk. Spoon into individual bowls and top with a small pat of butter and freshly ground black pepper.