Growing up, soups and stews were staples during the fall and winter. And one of my favourite meals was chicken soup with dumplings. It takes a couple of hours to cook, but really the active cooking time is under 45 minutes in total.
Dumplings are made with the same principles that you use to make biscuits: cold butter and minimal contact. Working dough produces gluten and makes your dumplings dense and rubbery — so don’t too handsy.
Once your stock is made you can load it with your favourite vegetables. They will only cook for 20 minutes so they won’t get soggy or limp. Want to skip the meat? Make a big pot of vegetarian stock and add your dumplings to that.
It’s even better as a leftover and perfect for school and work lunches.
Chicken and Dumplings
1 (3 -4 lb) whole chicken
1 gallon water (3 3/4 litres)
4-8 garlic cloves
1-2 teaspoons of black pepper corns
red pepper corns (optional) — just toss them in
3-4 inner celery stocks with leaves (better flavour)
2 carrots — if they still have the tops, throw them in too
1 whole onion or a few shallots (just toss them in with the skin on)
Pick your favourites: fresh sage, thyme, parsley, or ginger and a bay leaf
For the Soup:
Add any vegetables you like for the soup. Cut them into bite-sized pieces. Here are just some of your options:
Green onions or thinly sliced onions, carrots, celery, spinach, broccoli, green beans, peas, cauliflower and black kale.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 large egg, beaten
6 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
Total cooking time: 2 1/2 hours
Place whole chicken and water into large pot or dutch oven. Add herbs, pepper, onions and garlic. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook chicken for about 1 hour or until tender. If the chicken isn’t totally submerged, flip it halfway through to make sure its fully cooked.
When done, carefully remove chicken from pot; set aside to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat and skin from the bones and return the bones to the pot and continue to simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
While the stock is cooking you can skim the top (if it gets foamy). If it seems too oily, put a cup of ice in it and the fat will rise to the surface.
Prepare dumplings: In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Get another medium sized mixing bowl. Grab a handful of the flour mixture and toss into bowl. Grate some butter on top. Cover with more flour mixture and continue alternating until all the butter is grated.
Toss the flour and butter lightly with your hands. JToss in your finely chopped parsley. Pour the beaten and and milk in and quickly toss with hands or spatula so the milk and egg are just combined. Do not over mix!
Prepare your soup: Strain your broth. Remove all the bones and herbs and compost them. Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces. Add your vegetables. Add as much stock as you want. I used the entire amount and made enough soup for 8-10 servings. If you don’t use all the stock, freeze it for another soup.
Bring to a simmer. Drop tablespoon fulls of dumpling onto the top of your simmer soup. Cover tightly and allow to simmer for 20 minutes (BUT DON’T PEAK OR LIFT THE LID UNTIL THE 20 MINUTES IS UP!)