One of my favorite recipes and one of the best soups ever, is manti. I recently tackled manti because a) I really wanted to eat it and b) my mom and nana always talked about what a process it is, and how much money it sells for at the church bazaar. I wanted to prove them wrong and learn that it is a simple thing to make. Well, I was wrong.
This shouldn’t discourage you from making manti, which is actually the name of the little dumplings (but I also call the finished soup manti). Once you’ve got the bowl in front of you, you’ll soon realize all the work was worth it. And maybe that makes the soup even more satisfying. You can also freeze the manti and have them ready for plumping in the tomato-y broth base on any day you need a comfort serving.
A little background: manti is traditionally made with lamb and beef tiny meatballs, wrapped in a little dough, baked, then plumped up in a tomato chicken broth mixture and served with a tangy yogurt. I used ground chicken, and it turned out great. You can use plain greek yogurt or if you are Armenian, you might be familiar with mazoon (Armenian yogurt).
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 pound flour
for the meat mixture:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (or sirloin or lamb)
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped flat parsley
- 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
for preparation of the dumplings:
Mix the water and egg together and add melted butter, olive oil and salt, thoroughly incorporating. Add the flour all at once. Spread flour on a work surface (i.e. granite counter or waxclothed table) and knead the dough until all of the flour has been mixed in. Knead dough to become smooth.
Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and form into balls. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
For the meat mixture, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Don’t over mix. Separate the mixture into 3 equal parts and cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the manti, flour your work surface. Roll out one dough ball to 1/8″ thickness, measuring approximately 20″ in diameter. If you think you’ve rolled thin enough, keep rolling until you feel like it just won’t get any thinner. It needs to be really thin. With a pizza cutter or ravioli cutter, cut the dough into 1″ squares. I eyeballed this at first and realize that wasn’t the best method, but it does work.
Melt the butter and liberally brush it on a baking sheet. Take a portion of the meat, such as a small dab, and place onto each square. This will be a very small amount. squeeze the ends of the dough together, hiding the meat inside the dumpling and preventing the meat from falling out. Your manti will resemble a canoe. Place manti on the buttered baking sheet, and make sure they do not touch each other. Once you’ve filled the tray, lightly butter the tops of each manti. Continue with the remainder of meat and dough.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). Cool on a plate or wire rack. You can freeze manti after baking, and you will want to freeze some because this recipe makes a lot of little mantis. To serve, heat 4 to 6 cups chicken broth with 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Add 2 cups manti and allow to plump up. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt.