I love homemade soups and stews, and I love Italian food. I've been to Italy several times, and my oldest (living) sister has a home there in Aviano--just a hop, skip, and a jump from Venice. Before visiting my sister, whenever I thought of Italy I thought of "pasta". But Italian food is so much more than that. In northern Italy there is less emphasis on pasta--risotto and polenta are the "carbs celeb".
There are two ways of serving polenta--it can be cooked, spread out on an oiled surface and allowed to solidify. Then slabs of the firm polenta are sauted. The other version (and my favorite) is to cook polenta and then, when all of the grains have become blissfully toothsome and creamy, stir in a bit of cream or marscapone cheese and serve the polenta as a creamy puddle of Heaven (....is my bias showing a bit here?).
But there is an in-between stage. No longer soft, but not firm. That's when I think we could make something wonderful, like "Polenta Dumplings".
3 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup half and half
Prepare a large cookie sheet by covering it with a sheet of parchment paper. Spray the parchment with non-stick cooking spray or grease lightly. Set aside.
Bring 2 cups of the broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir the remaining 1 cup of broth into the dry polenta in a small mixing bowl.
Gradually add the polenta mixture to the boiling broth, stirring constantly. When mixture returns to a boil, reduce heat to low. Cook and continue to stir until mixture is very thick (about 5 minutes). Be careful--it will sputter.
Remove from heat. Stir in the cheese and half and half. All to sit for about 15 minutes. Using a small cookie scoop, form about 25 to 30 dumplings, placing them on the prepared cookie sheet. Cover and chill about one hour.
To cook, carefully drop dumplings into simmering soup. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.