In rural Czech Texas, visiting with family and friends on Sunday after church used to be an important weekly activity (probably still is for some families) – a way to stay connected, share news and concerns, and further the cooperative spirit that’s helped Texas Czech culture last so long. I love this description of Sunday dinner by Robert Skrabanek in his book “We’re Czechs” (Texas A&M Press, 1988.)
“Sometimes we went to a friend’s house, along with three or four other families, to eat Sunday dinner and to spend most of the rest of the afternoon. If it was our turn to be hosts, we left [church] as soon as we could so Mama and the girls could get dinner ready as soon as possible. Once dinner was ready, the men always ate at the first table. After they were through, the women ate at the second table, and we kids ate at the third table. While our parents were eating, we passed the time playing games, and by the time it was our turn to eat, we were hungry enough to eat the table. One good thing about Czech families was that there was always plenty left so we had our fill of everything on the menu.”
My baby brother, Stephen came for lunch some Sundays ago, also to stay connected, share news and concerns. Though we both live in Austin, we don’t see each other that often, certainly not weekly. We ate at the same time! I modeled the food I served on lunch meals visiting with relatives in Frenstat pod Radhostem in Moravia, in the Czech Republic. Stephen brought the beer. We had soup, and plates of cold items that we could make open-face sandwiches with—boiled eggs, pickles, sliced meats and veggies, and cheeses with slices of crusty bread. Having soup is a traditional way to start a Sunday lunch for Czechs. In Texas, chicken noodle soup was an overwhelming favorite.
I had an abundance of small amounts of vegetables left in my fridge, so instead put together a soup based on the one my family has for Stedry Vecer (Christmas Eve.) But at the last minute remembered kapanky, which is sort of a noodle substitute, made by dribbling a runny egg and flour mixture into the hot soup, making ribbons. When I was a child, my cousins and I called my grandmother’s version of chicken broth with kapanky “cloud soup”. I also heard her call it “ruffling soup.” Whatever you call it, it’s easy and delicious and seems to delight children.
Vegetable Soup with Kapanky
¼ c. chopped onions
1 garlic glove, minced
2 carrots, sliced in rings
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 quarts vegetable or chicken broth
salt to taste
lots of black pepper
parsley to taste, finely minced
Sauté all the vegetable together in a couple of tablespoons of butter in a medium sized pot. When they just start to get tender, add half the broth and cook until you they’re done to your liking. In another smaller pot, use the second half of the broth to make the kapanky in (recipe below.) Combine the two pots and season with salt, pepper and fresh parsley. Serves two with leftovers.
Kapanky (Egg Drops for Soup)
from Otillie Naizer Maresh, Travis-Williamson Counties CHS Czech Heritage Cookbook
1 eggpinch of salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 to 3 tablespoons milk or water
Beat the egg well. Add salt and flour and beat well. Mix in the milk or water. This batter is then dropped by tablespoons slowly into any boiling chicken or meat soup. Cut down the heat and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. The drops will come to the top. We called these soup drops "kapanky."
Texas Czech accordionist France Barton offers this apt description of these faux noodles. “My mother made kapanky very often; she would drop the kapanky dough (flour, egg, and salt mixture of a runny consistency) into chicken broth that usually also had onion, tomatoes, celery, and lots of parsley. So delicious. A little like Chinese egg drop soup, except the Czechs always used flour in the mixture.”
Here’s a 10-second video to help you understand the process, if you’ve never made kapanky.
|My brother Stephen and me. Ten years apart in age, but simpatico in sprit.|