It’s somewhere just after the first brisk night and before we pull out the heating blanket that we start craving some of our favorite comfort-foods. Soups, breads, roasts, they’re all in the rotation but this one – THIS ONE – tops the list.
I learned this one from one of the first and most beautiful food blogs I poured over during grad school, bread & honey. She hasn’t updated in a long time, but it is well worth taking a look back through her posts, they’re lovely.
I’ve made a few updates to her recipe, but it’s still a fairly simple one to execute and most of the ingredients are things you’ll have normally in your home. Some of the chopping can even be done ahead of time to throw it together for a quick after-work comfort meal with friends and family. Speaking of, this recipe would feed 6-8 people, and it makes great leftovers, so I don’t mind the big amount if I’m going to get the kitchen messy.
Start by dicing the “holy trinity” mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions. You’ll also want to finely chop some garlic – I use about 5-6 cloves, but I like garlic.
We generally pull a rotisserie chicken for this, but if we’re getting really fancy, we’ll roast a chicken and use part of that for this recipe, depending on the size of the chicken.
Toss the garlic and onions into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and start to soften with a hunk of butter and some olive oil. I’m using an wide oval dutch oven. I love how a cast iron enameled pot retains the heat throughout the recipe and handles the various processes of cooking (and it’s so easy to clean up!).
After a few moments, throw the carrots and celery in and stir to combine. We’re looking to get everything soft but not mushy.
This would be a good time to enlist the help of a little assistant. Please notice the “hand-behind-his-back” stance to keep safe at the stove. He’s very proud of that.
After they’re soft, grab the flour. Baby, we’re gonna make a roux. Make a little space in the center of the veggies and throw the flour in the hole.
Using a flat spatula (my FAVORITE kitchen utensil) start stirring out towards the veggies, slowly incorporating them while toasting the flour.
After a minute, begin pouring the broth in 1/2 cup at a time, while stirring, to make a thick sauce.
Keep going until all the broth is combined and the flour is dissolved.
It will be thick and creamy to coat all the veggies.
Dump the chicken into the pot and bring it to a boil.
While that is cooking, prepare the dumpling dough. This is a mix of flour, salt, baking powder, heavy cream, fresh thyme, and lemon zest. All of these things are important to make sure the dumplings are light and fluffy with tons of flavor. And, if there were any “secret” ingredients in this recipe, it would be the thyme and zest. They make the whole dish.
After combining the dry ingredients, pour in most of the heavy cream.
With a fork, stir the ingredients to combine.
Add a bit more cream and get your hands dirty. You’re wanting to get the dough to a point right before it gets too sticky to work with, and right after it feels crumbly dry. I remember bread & honey describes it as “shaggy,” which is very accurate.
After that, separate out the dough into imperfect lumps roughly 1.5-2″ round, but don’t compress them too much. They don’t have to be perfect – that’s what make this so good…
Start laying the dumplings into the pot. You’ll want to cover the top layer of soup without piling them up.
You’ll end up with a layer of dumplings just below the surface. Then, cover with a lid for 20 minutes!
This is what they should look like half way through cooking – puffy, creamy, and almost dry to the touch on top. (And try not to peek like I’m doing here!)
Once the 20 minutes is up, bask in the glory of the dumpling!
Spoon out heaping portions for you and your guests and dig in! I promise you’ll want to make it every week.
Quick meal tips:
- Most of the items are standard kitchen fare, but you may need to pick up heavy cream, lemon, and a roto chicken on your way to/from work to throw it together in a snap.
- You can chop the veggies the night before and keep in the fridge for quick sautéing the next day.
- Lime zest works just as well, and I also love fresh rosemary in the dumplings!
- In the winter, at least in Ohio, some thyme stays green under the snow, so brush it off and grab a bunch!
Chicken and Dumplings
- 6 TBS butter
- Olive oil
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 med-large yellow onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 rotisserie chicken, pulled (or half a large roasted chicken)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 8 or so cups of broth
- 3 cups of flour
- 1.5 TBS baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 TBS fresh thyme leaves
- 1 TBS lemon zest
Sauté vegetables in the melted butter and a bit of olive oil, starting with onions & garlic, until they begin to soften. Make a “hole” in the center of the veggies and toss in flour, stirring with a flat spatula to toast and coat the veggies. Add stock slowly while stirring. Bring it to a boil while stirring, then drop to a simmer. Add the chicken breast (and a bit of milk or heavy cream, if you’d like) and the bay leaf and let simmer.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, thyme, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add about 3/4 of the cream and mix until it is generally combined. Add the rest and mix with your hands until it is combined but not sticky, and looks “shaggy.” Shape lumps 1.5-2″ around and lay them into the pot, covering the surface of the soup. Put a lid on the pot and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until dumplings puff up.
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