Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicken Dumpling Soup

What is the perfect food to eat when you're not feeling well?  Chicken soup, of course!  This magic elixir has been prepared by mothers and grandmothers for generations with hopes of curing everything that ails us.

Well, this week, I was suffering from an awful middle ear infection.  Somehow, I managed to go my entire childhood without the horror of ear infections, but as soon as I hit middle age, my body decided that ear infections are fun!  Let me tell you..... if you've never experienced one, consider yourself lucky!  I had balance problems, was constantly sick to my stomach, and I heard a persistent hum in my ears for three days! Torture! 

My family suggested that we have this chicken dumpling soup.  It's easy to make because it's prepared with a store bought bouillon paste.  Also, the dumplings are "out of this world!"  Seriously-- they're the most fluffy, wonderful things that you've ever tasted.  We have strict orders from the kids that whenever we make it, we let them know that dumplings are ready to eat. 

Could this magical chicken dumpling soup help me get better?  Probably not... but at least it took my mind off of the ear ringing and dizziness for a few minutes.  ---and for what it's worth, I'm feeling much better now!  Maybe this chicken dumpling soup can cure all?

As a special treat, you'll notice the pink reflection on the bottom of the bowl.  Yeah...... isn't that special?  I'm not winning any awards for this photo. That lovely pink you're seeing is the reflection of my obnoxious nightgown.  I'm not proud of the photo, but this is the most cozy nightgown that I own.   I wear it when I really want to feel comfortable.  Do I wish it was another color besides ridiculous pink? Yep- but when you're sick you can't be picky. 


For the Soup
  • 3 raw chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium white onions, diced
  • 3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 10 to 12 cups chicken *broth (see note below)
  • 2 Tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • black pepper to taste
For the Dumplings
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs


In a stock pot, heat the oil on medium heat.  Add the chicken breast pieces and heat until fully cooked, stirring frequently.  Be careful that the chicken doesn't overcook and become brown/crispy.  Remove the chicken and place in a small bowl, making sure to leave any juices in the stock pot. Set the chicken aside.

In the same stock pot, add the garlic and heat for 1 minute.  Then, add the onion, carrots, and celery to the pot.  Stirring frequently, sweat the vegetables.  Then, return the chicken to the pot, and add the broth, parsley, celery salt and pepper.  Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat to medium low.  Cover and simmer for an additional 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

When the vegetables are tender, prepare the dumplings.  On low heat, bring the butter and milk to a boil in a medium sauce pan, being careful not to scald or boil over the milk. Once the mixture comes to a boil, immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the salt.  Slowly add the flour and stir it into the liquid until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Then, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each egg into the flour mixture until it's fully incorporated.  The dumpling mixture will be extremely sticky!  Then, using a spoon, carefully drop spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture into the simmering soup.  The dumplings will be fully cooked in a few minutes, and you'll know they're done because they will float to the top of the soup.  Serve.

*Note on the Broth
Feel free to use whatever type of chicken broth that you'd like.  If you'd like to use a homemade one, that's even better!  When you're sick, this typically isn't practical.  For years now, I refuse to use a normal broth or bullion because of the lack of actual food taste.  Most bouillons are just salt.  It's important that you check the ingredients.  The first ingredient must be whatever "base" it is that you're trying to make.  For instance, with a chicken base, "chicken" should be the first ingredient, right?  You'd be surprised how many granules or cubes have salt as the first one.  My favorite base is a food paste called "Better than Bouillon", and you can locate it at most grocery stores.