There’s nothing like chicken noodle soup to make you feel warm and cosy, the perfect meal for sick days and cold nights. Start with fresh ingredients and select heritage and pasture-raised, or organic chicken to give the best flavour and healthiest soup. Many small growers raise the best chickens so look for these better birds in your area.
Ingredients for the Chicken Soup
1 whole free-run chicken, about 4 lbs
2 L chicken broth
3 bay leaves
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, cut into thick coins
Approximately 1 cup coarsely chopped pale, inner celery leaves
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 gloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp pepper
Several sprigs of fresh thyme; tied in a bundle with string or 1/2 tsp dry thyme
For the Dumplings
2 cups flour, plus more for rolling out
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp butter or lard1/2 cup broth from the pot
Directions for 6 Servings
To a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add chicken, broth, bay leaves; bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, simmer for about 40 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a wire cookie cooling rack over a roasting pan; set aside to cool.
To the pot, add the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, pepper and thyme; continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, then turn off heat.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull all the meat from the bones, setting the skin aside for a special garnish – more on that in a moment! – and set the chunks of chicken meat aside. You should end up with about 5 – 6 cups of meat.
To make the dumplings, add the flour and baking powder to a medium bowl and use your fingers to rub in the butter or lard to about a pea-sized crumb. Add the stock, mix in with your hands until it forms a ball; transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll with a floured rolling pin – about ¼-inch thick – then slice into ribbons about 1-inch wide and 2-inches long, or thereabouts.
Return pot to medium-high heat and bring stock to a gentle boil. Remove the fresh thyme bundle before adding the dumplings. A few at a time, add the dumpling ribbons; gently stir so they don’t stick together or to the bottom of the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken meat and any collected drippings back to the pot, stir, taste for salt, and cook – uncovered – until heated through and dumplings are cooked, about another 5 – 10 minutes or so. The dumplings will puff slightly and float to the top.
Turn off heat, add the celery leaves, replace cover and let sit for about 15 minutes before serving. The starch from the dumplings will thicken the broth. Taste for salt and add if needed.
Optional: while the chicken and dumplings are resting, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the chicken skin and fry until crispy. Salt and serve as a decadent snack or garnish each serving with a few bits of crispy skin.
Tip: These dumplings can be fried too, and they’re delicious that way. Reserve a few to fry in fat over medium heat until golden and puffed – about 5 minutes each side – serve on the side.
From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for LCBO’s Food & Drink, Manna Pro Hearty Homestead, The Harvest Commission, and Today’s Parent; she published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015.