Is it really November? Here in Florida, we had about a week of fall-feeling weather before it went back to feeling like we’re living inside of a cat’s mouth. Happily, my group of girlfriends and I are heading to the north Georgia mountains for a weekend of all the foods, booze, laughter, and cool weather. So I’m making a hearty, flavorful soup to keep us warm. It’s called chicken & dumplings, but really has more of a soup consistency throughout. I first learned the recipe from a coworker/friend and have tweaked it over the years to fit my own tastes.
Like other soups, this one starts with the holy trinity of carrots, celery, and onion. I add fresh chopped garlic, as well. I start with some olive oil in the pot and then drop in the rough-chopped carrots. After a couple minutes, I add the onions and celery and cook over medium-high heat until the onions become a bit translucent. Then it’s garlic time.
Once you smell the garlic, turn the heat down to medium and add in the spices, whole chicken, and stock. I prefer to use homemade veggie or chicken stock, but if you’re using store-bought, make sure it is low sodium and that it is stock, NOT broth. Low sodium allows you to add salt to your own taste.
Now set the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes to make sure the chicken cooks through. Once done, remove the chicken from the pot and cool it to the touch. I usually put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off on the soup during the chicken cooling period, but leave it on the burner, covered.
While the chicken is cooling, it’s dumpling prep time! I just use home-style canned biscuits for the dumplings. I’ve tried making my own and, frankly, they weren’t noticeably better, so I go with convenience. Cut the biscuits into sixths and toss in flour. I season the flour with some garlic powder.
The chicken should be cool enough to handle at this time. Turn the heat back on to medium and tear the meat off the chicken, adding it to the pot. I tend to keep a little bit of the skin, but not much. Just enough to add some extra flavor.
Once all the chicken has been added, bring the soup to a gentle simmer and then add the dumplings. I let them set for a couple of minutes before stirring. My stirring method is to put the spoon in the pot at the edge all the way to the bottom and then slowly pull it towards the center. I’ve found that the dumplings don’t break apart doing it this way.
At this time, you can add the frozen peas if you are going to eat the soup the same night. I generally make it the day before and let it sit overnight in the fridge, allowing all the flavors to meld. When I reheat it for dinner the next night, I add the frozen peas at that time.
Whether you enjoy it the same night or wait, you will not be disappointed. This is a simple and scrumptious soup for the cool weather months. Dumpling-mania!
3 quarts veggie or chicken stock
5 pound whole chicken
6 celery stalks
1 large yellow onion
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 can 8-count biscuits
flour to coat
1 small bag frozen peas