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Episode 3: Let’s Cook Italy series. Welcome to Trentino-Alto Adige: The warm and inviting Canederli.

Trentino-Alto Adige, located in the northern part of Italy, is a region known for its diverse cultural influences, shaped by its history of being part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of the Italian Alps, this region boasts not only stunning scenery but also a rich culinary tradition. One dish that encapsulates the essence of this region is the dish, Canederli. A hearty and comforting dumpling soup that has its roots deeply embedded in the local history and culture.

Canederli is one of Trentino's most famous regional dishes. These are a form of bread dumplings which has more of a northern European style and are often served in a rich beefy broth. Ingredients that are unique to this dish are speck and Asiago cheese which are quite popular in northern regional cooking.

This dish emerged as a clever way to utilise stale bread, which was a common ingredient in many households. The dish evolved as a thrifty way to repurpose leftover bread, transforming it into a hearty and flavourful meal.

Ingredients for Canederli

  1. Stale Bread: Traditionally, Canederli is made using leftover bread, giving it a rustic texture and depth of flavor.

  2. Milk: To soften the bread and create a tender dumpling.

  3. Eggs: Providing structure and richness to the dumplings.

  4. Speck (smoked ham): A staple in the region, adding a savory and smoky dimension to the dish.

  5. Asiago Cheese: Offering a sweet and sour flavor and buttery aroma.

  6. Fresh Parsley: Adding a burst of freshness and color.

  7. Nutmeg: Infusing a warm, earthy aroma that complements the other flavors.

  8. Salt and Pepper: Seasoning to taste.


Canederli (Bread Dumplings)

One dish that encapsulates the essence of this region is the dish, Canederli. A hearty and comforting dumpling soup that has its roots deeply embedded in the local history and culture.
Canederli (Bread Dumplings)

Ingredients For the Canederli (Bread Dumplings)


  • 200/250g stale bread, roughly diced

  • 200ml warm milk

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • ½ tsp nutmeg

  • 40g butter

  • 1 white onion, finely diced

  • 200g speck or pancetta, diced

  • 50g Asiago cheese, grated

  • 50g grana pandano or parmesan cheese, grated

  • 100g plain white flour

  • 1 tbsp olive oil for frying

  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients of the Broth for the Canederli (Bread Dumplings)

  • 500 grams of meaty beef stock bones (with lots of marrow), including some knuckle bones if possible, cut to expose the center marrow, and include at least a couple of veal bones if you can, for their gelatin

  • 500 grams of stew meat (chuck or flank steak) and/or beef scraps, cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 1 to 2 medium onions, quartered

  • 1 to 2 large carrots, cut into 1 to 2-inch segments

  • 1 large celery rib, cut into 1-inch segments or a handful celery tops

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled

  • Fresh parsley, including stems and leaves

  • 1 to 2 bay leaves

  • 10 peppercorns

  • 4 litres water


Preheat the oven to 180c/350f. Roast beef bones/beef chuck and garlic with olive oil and salt pepper. Roast for 40 minutes until golden brown.

To a large pot, add the roasted beef bones/beef chuck, and remove the garlic from the skins, onions, carrots, celery, and parsley. bay leaves, peppercorns, and water. Simmer on a low heat for 2 1/2- 3 hours. Once cooked remove the meat and vegetables and strain the broth with a muslin cloth to remove any impurities.

This is quite a lot of stock so I would freeze half of this mixture. The remaining broth will be used to cook the canederli.

Add the diced bread to a large bowl, along with the warmed milk, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine well and set aside to allow to soak for 15-20 minutes.

To a frypan over low heat, add butter, oil, onions, and speck, frying until the onions are soft and the speck begins to caramelise, roughly about 6-8 minutes. Turn off the heat.


Add the cooked onions and speck to the bread mixture, along with the remaining ingredients of beaten eggs, asiago, grana pandano, flour, and parsley. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients well as we want each canederli to have a little of everything. The speck and cheeses are already quite salty on their own, so season according to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the fridge to firm for 30 minutes to an hour.


With clean hands, divide the mixture into balls, about the size of a 2-3cm ball. Place on a lined tray and repeat until all the mixture has been used.

Heat your beef broth in a large pot and reduce to a simmer once brought to a boil. Cook the canederli in batches to prevent them from breaking. The canederli are ready when they are slightly yellow in colour and have risen to the surface, about 15 minutes.

Once all the canedarli have been cooked, serve them in bowls along with the beef broth. Add grated grana pandano/parmesan with a little more chopped parsley.

Buon Appetito!


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