Chicken & Dumpling Soup

So, I’m from the south. And if there’s anything I love more than anything, it’s a solid bowl of chicken & dumplings. I mean, it’s a staple. And as such, I should have a recipe for making it, right? I’m sure there are many ways to make chicken and dumping and mine might not be the most “authentic,” but it’s definitely better than just eating soup out of a can. In my opinion.

Since my gluten-allergic roommate was gone for the week, I could made this using the dreaded glutinous flour. But gluten-free flour is a simple substitute and requires no extra handling. It works exactly the same. As for any desire to make it dairy-free… well, that one’s a little trickier.

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So as always, I like to start with the prep. As with any good soup or stew, I like to start with carrots, onions, and celery. Then a little bit of garlic because I can’t think of a time when I regret adding garlic to anything and then a couple parsnips to add another healthy component to the dish. Did I also mention I’m absolutely obsessed with putting parsnips in everything?

But we don’t start this soup base with the vegetables. We have to start with the meat. So I use a package of leg and thighs, bone-in and skin-on. I really like chicken skin so I use it in the stew. But if you don’t particularly care for chicken skin, just take it off.

I start by dredging the chicken pieces in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. This will give the chicken and the pot a nice flavor. I melt a nice helping of butter and olive oil in a large stock pot and once it’s nice and hot, I place the chicken in there and let it crisp up.

This typically takes about 3-5 minutes per side. But once it’s done, I take the chicken out of the pot and set it on a plate. We won’t need it again for a little bit. But remember, the chicken is nowhere near cooked so don’t eat it.

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After this I throw in all of the prepped vegetables save the garlic. I let this cook down a little bit until the parsnips start to soften up a bit and then I add in the garlic and some turmeric.

Lesson time: Turmeric comes from a plant native to India that is from the ginger family. Not surprisingly enough, it is a common spice in curries, Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine. It particularly known for the yellow-orange color it gives to dishes it’s used in.

Turmeric has a nice subtle flavor and using too much of it can really muddle any dish. Here I don’t use a lot of it because I don’t want it to be a significant flavor. After all, this is a southern dish not an Indian dish. But I particularly like it because it gives a nice color to the soup once it’s done.

Once the garlic becomes aromatic, it’s time to add in the liquid ingredients. For this I add in a nice helping of unsalted chicken stock and apple cider vinegar. I would prefer apple cider vinegar over anything else because I want the apple cider flavor more than I want the vinegar flavor. The vinegar is nice because it cuts any acidity in the dish, but there’s not enough where it’s a significantly helpful addition. What I’m trying to say is that if you carry around regular apple cider, you can use that instead. I don’t ever have it on hand because no one drinks it, so I use a substitute.

I also add in some fresh thyme, basil, and a couple of whole bay leaves to round out the flavors that I want to cook down. Then I bring the liquids to the point of boiling and add the chicken back into the pot. I was making a particularly large helping of this so we had a lot of leftovers for the week, so it was a trying time for my pot. I wouldn’t recommend filling your pot to the brim like this, but I didn’t want to wash two pots.

Then you bring this to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let this simmer for a good 30-40 minutes. You’ll have to stir this every once in a while to make sure stuff doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot, but other than that you can pretty much forget about this until it’s finished.

While that’s cooking we can prepare the dumpling dough. Now I’m sure traditionally the dumplings are essentially tiny biscuits, but I like to go with tiny cornbreads.

So I use a mixture of flour, cornmeal, baking soda, paprika and salt for my dry ingredients and mix these all together. For the wet ingredients there’s just one: half and half. Not the healthiest wet ingredient, but man is it tasty. So you can mix this up ahead of time and let it just sit until you need it, nothing bad will happen.

Once the soup has boiled for the allotted time (I suddenly feel like I’m writing a lab report), I took the chicken out and threw it into a bowl. Then I got to work shredding the chicken from the bone. A relatively easy task if you just use two forks. Then the chicken goes right back into the pot and we can add in the dumplings.

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I use a relatively simple and rather unartistic method of making dumplings. They are, will be, and always have been not uniform in size of shape. All I really do is grab a spoon full of the dough from the bowl and bang it against the side of the pot until the dough falls into the boiling liquid. Then I rinse and repeat. after the top of the pot is covered in dumplings with no foreseeable way of adding any more, I stir it up and keep on going until I have no more dough left. Dumplings. But if I’m going to save face in terms of credibility, I shall call them rustic dumplings.

Now then, it’s time to finish this off and then let the dumplings cook. To finish it off, all I do is add in a little heavy cream (I know, more healthy choices) and then cover it again. Let this cook for another 15 minutes or so, that way the dumplings are cooked through. The most disappointing this would be to cut into one of these dumplings only to meet a mushy pile of uncooked dough. Gross.

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But despite it’s obvious lack of nutrition, or at least I assume, it is good. I mean with the amount of dairy and fats I beat into this soup it has to be good. But I like to make a lot of it so I can have it for lunch throughout the week and then I don’t have to cook between classes.

If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can finish off your bowl by topping it with a little bit of chopped, fresh parsley. Otherwise, it’s perfect as is.


Chicken & Dumpling Soup

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 1.5 hours

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 3 parsnips
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 2 tbs turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 5 lbs chicken skin on
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup thyme
  • ½ basil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Parsley for garnish

 

Dumplings

  • 1 ½ cups flour*
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1 ½ cup half and half

Preparation

  1. Mix together flour, salt, pepper, and paprika
  2. Dredge chicken in flour
  3. Melt butter and olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat
  4. Add chicken to the pot and brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes a side
  5. Remove chicken from pot; add carrots, onions, celery, and parsnips and cook for 8-10 minutes or until carrots and parsnips begin to soften
  6. Add garlic and turmeric and cook for another minute
  7. Add in chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, thyme, and basil
  8. Bring to a boil and add chicken back into pot
  9. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes
  10. Pull chicken out and pull off the bone
  11. Add chicken back into the pot
  12. In a small bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, paprika, and half and half
  13. Using a spoon, drop chunks of dough into the pot to form dumplings
  14. Add in heavy cream and stir to combine
  15. Cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked through
  16. Serve and top with fresh parsley

*If you can’t eat gluten, substitute this with your favorite gluten-free flour

Gluten-free option


 

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