THE WASHINGTON POST – What’s more comforting than Grandma’s chicken soup? That’s easy – her chicken soup with dumplings on top.
This recipe brings those cozy vibes to the table in the form of a chicken stew, made extra-healthful with a generous helping of vegetables and tender dumplings with whole grain flour and olive oil.
It has the same clear-cut flavours as my grandmother’s chicken soup, with bone-in chicken breast first simmered in broth with onion, celery, carrot and herbs, then torn into bite-size pieces.
My grandmother typically used dill, but I went with thyme here because I had a bunch on hand, and I added a heap of green beans as well.
There is a lot of flexibility with this kind of dish – I see it as an opportunity to make use of whatever is in your refrigerator.
You could certainly sub in parsley, rosemary, sage or dill, of course, for the thyme, or use a different vegetable such as broccoli and/or a leafy green such as kale or spinach instead of the green beans.
Once the stew is ready and bubbling hot, the dumpling batter – a simple mix of whole-wheat flour, baking powder, buttermilk and olive oil – is dolloped on top, then the pot is covered so the batter can cook in the accumulated steam.
A few minutes later, the dumplings become fluffy, moist and tender, adding a homey heartiness to what is already a pot of feel-good food. As far as I am concerned, doubling up on that kind of goodness is never a bad idea.
CHICKEN, VEGETABLES AND DUMPLINGS
Refrigerate leftovers for up to three days.
Three bone-in chicken breast halves, skin removed
One medium yellow onion, diced
Three stalks celery, diced
Two medium carrots, diced
Two large sprigs fresh thyme
Two bay leaves
Half teaspoon fine salt, divided, plus more to taste
Quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Three cups low-sodium chicken broth
Four ounces thin green beans, trimmed and cut on the bias into two-inch pieces
One cup whole-wheat pastry flour, white whole-wheat flour or half cup each regular whole-wheat flour and all-purpose flour
One teaspoon baking powder
Half cup low-fat well-shaken buttermilk
Three tablespoons olive oil
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)
In a heavy, wide pot or Dutch oven, combine the chicken, flesh side down, onion, celery, carrots, thyme, bay leaf, quarter teaspoon of the salt and the pepper.
Add the broth, set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and gently simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a plate, let cool slightly, then separate the meat from the bones (discard the bones). Using two forks, tear the chicken into bite-size pieces.
Turn the heat back to medium-low and bring the liquid to a simmer. Add the green beans to the pot and cook, covered, until the green beans are firm-tender, about six minutes.
Discard the thyme stems and bay leaves, taste, and season the vegetable mixture with salt, if desired. Return the shredded chicken to the pot and bring the broth back to a boil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour(s), baking powder and the remaining quarter teaspoon of salt. In a small measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the buttermilk and the oil, then add it to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened; do not overmix.
Spoon the dumpling batter in eight mounds (about three tablespoons each) on top of the broth, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, without lifting the lid eight to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into each dumpling comes out clean.
Remove from the heat.
Divide the chicken and dumplings across shallow bowls, garnished with fresh parsley, if desired, and serve.