Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

A while back, before it got arctic out there, my son and I would go for a walk every morning before his nap. We would walk down to the pond to see what the resident muskrats were up to. Maybe we would be lucky and see the albino red tailed hawk sitting in the big oak, waiting for some unlucky rodent to be his breakfast. Or the great blue herons we see from time to time visiting from the marsh down the road who fly away with prehistoric flaps of their huge wings as soon as we get near. We would play by the barn a little, now empty of animals and a bit forlorn, hay still cemented to the stall doors and the faint smell of manure lingering in the cold air, not unpleasantly. But now it is truly winter, and the idea of bundling up before nine and traipsing around the icy grounds with a 23 pound toddler in tow is not a reality. The snow is too awkward for a new walker to navigate, and although it's good exercise, I'm just not up for the walk. We go outside in the afternoons now, and there's still a lot to see, but I miss my morning walks.

Usually I don't get wistful for nicer weather until February, but this year it's struck me sooner. We've really been cooped up quite a bit, and yesterday I had a strong pining for a cold beer on the porch while green fluttered all around the trees. We were reading a book in which a dragonfly zips across the water, and a luna moth sails through the night, and it squeezed me right in the heart, all that warm, simple green. It's at that moment I realize that I have to get real and focus on the very beautiful moments of winter: sitting in front of the fire, baking a tray of cookies, the sparkly glint of huge flakes of snow coming down in the sun, the patterns of ice on the pond, the waves of frost on the windows, and a big pot of stock cooking on the stove. Lucky for me, Steve decided to make his amazing stock yesterday. He's much better than me, impatient fool that I am. He takes his time and really cares for the stock. He does it right. And for that I'm thankful, because then I could make this chicken and dumpling soup which hit the spot yesterday for dinner and today for lunch. Thank you, winter!

2 cups of flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or you can use an egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
seasonings: I used dried thyme and celery seed

Add wet ingredients to dry. It will be a wet, sticky batter.

While you are doing this, bring two quarts of stock to a simmer. Add one cup of shredded chicken. Once at a simmer again, drop in spoonfuls of dumpling batter. They will puff and float like little clouds. Throw in a lot of spinach in to wilt. Add lots of fresh chopped parsley and dill. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently before doling out into bowls. The broth will thicken a little from the flour in the dumplings. Stare out the window at the strange blue winter sky and think about how nice it is to be right there, right then.


  1. I think deep down you must remember
    when I first discovered this recipe. I would chop up sage and other herbs and the dumplings would be redolent of their scent.
    It was an inexpensive meal for 5
    and everyone enjoyed it! It was
    an accomplishment to have the dumplings made just so! Firm, but
    tender and no lumps.
    Love, Mamou

  2. It's a one dish meal!!!
    Love, Mamou

  3. I've never made chicken and dumpling soup, it looks terrific!

    It does get cumbersome to dress up and walk outside. The biggest thing for me is convincing myself to go outside. Once there, I think to myself, it's not bad. :)

  4. I love the whole essay you wrote.
    It is so beautiful, you draw pictures with your words and I go
    with you all the way, happily.

    Love, Mamou

  5. Wow! That looks so hearty and warming! Is it really that cold out there? Oh dear. It's so hot over here :( Keep warm, Julia.

  6. Thanks, Mamou! I am sure I remember the dumplings you made. What's most clear are the plum dumplings you made for dessert one time. I think I tried to eat the whole plate!

    Christine- Yeah, once outside it's not so bad! You just have to convince yourself to do it!

    Thanks, Ju! It's probably as cold as it is hot there! Keep cool!

  7. mmm. sounds delicious.
    sounds like sth i would have in bed on a rainy day :)

  8. Felicia- It would be perfect for a rainy day!

  9. I hear you about feeling cooped up and dreaming of spring! I have to thank you for the idea to refocus on what makes winter special. I think I'll start that stock right now.mmmmmm.

  10. I made this today, I just couldn't resist. Lovely! Thank you :)

  11. Erin- So cool, thanks for letting me know! I love it when things work out.