As regular readers know, I like to simplify recipes to their most basic elements. I’ve spent years experimenting with chicken soup and I thought I’d finally post my version online. I should mention that I prefer thick soups. So if you’re partial to thin, brothy, chicken soup, then this recipe probably isn’t for you. And if you like doughy, biscuit-like dumplings, then this really isn’t for you.
This is pretty close to my chicken pot pie recipe, and it benefits from the time-saving poaching/shredding method I rely on when I make chicken enchiladas, creamy chicken salad, and poppy seed chicken.
The Best Chicken Soup
- 3 chicken breasts
- 2 32 oz cartons low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 bunch celery, chopped
- 6-8 carrots (depending on the size), peeled and chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
- 2 ears of corn kernels
- 2 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- ½ pint heavy cream
German Dumplings (Griess Klösse)
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 cup Cream of Wheat (farina, not instant)
- 2 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the chicken breasts in a 9×9 baking dish and nearly submerge with chicken stock. Poach for 40 minutes until cooked through, flipping the breasts after 20 minutes. Place the still-steaming breasts in your stand mixer and break up slowly with the paddle attachment. Once it’s shredded, pour the poaching liquid into the stand mixer bowl and set aside. For a tutorial on this method, click here. If you don’t have a stand mixer, chop the chicken into small cubes or shred by hand with two forks.
Heat a 6-quart dutch oven over medium-high heat. Melt the stick of butter. Chop all of the vegetables (except the garlic and corn) to ¼-inch slices/cubes and drop them into the pot as you go. Add ¼ teaspoon of the salt and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes to allow the expunged water to cook off. Stir every few minutes to keep it from sticking to the bottom. The vegetable medley should reduce by about ⅓.
When the vegetables start to stick to the bottom, pour in the remaining chicken stock, reserving a couple of cups in a separate bowl. While the soup is coming to a boil, add the flour to the reserved stock and whisk until fully incorporated. When the soup is boiling, slowly add the stock/flour mixture while stirring. Add the remaining salt, pepper, sage, and shredded chicken to the pot and stir.
Reduce the heat to very low and cover with the lid. Simmer for 2-3 hours until the vegetables have softened and the soup has thickened.
The wife likes to make German dumplings with chicken soup. I was skeptical at first, but these are so much better than the soft, gooey dough that passes for dumplings here in the south. They’re basically the bread equivalent of meatballs.
To make these, you warm the milk, butter, salt, and nutmeg over medium heat until it begins to boil. Add the Cream of Wheat very slowly and stir until it thickens and pulls off the bottom.
Remove from the heat. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl or cup. When the mixture has cooled a little (so it won’t scramble the eggs), add the eggs while stirring until the mixture is evenly incorporated.
Using your hands, roll the dough into balls the diameter of a US quarter. Drop them into the simmering soup. You may have to turn the heat on the soup up to medium to counter the chilling effect the dumplings will have. This recipe will make around 40 dumplings. It helps to spray some oil on your hands so the dough doesn’t stick to your palms.
Let the dumplings simmer for about 10 minutes after you’ve dropped all of them into the pot. When you’re ready to eat, turn off the heat, add the cream, and stir until evenly incorporated. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
The soup will thicken as it cools. Ladle into bowls and enjoy.
Here, you can see how the dumplings turn out. I love the taste and texture of these things.