Rush Hour

Continuing our focus on make-ahead meals, this month's recipe is for a delightful soup that, like many other soups, actually improves with a day's rest. Given that the mixed weather that resides in the month of March, it's hard to beat a pot of homemade chicken and dumpling soup.

While you can omit the dumplings and use noodles or rice instead, I highly recommend taking the time to make the dumplings for this hearty soup. Leave them large if serving to adults -- they can take little nibbles with their spoons -- or cut them into bite-sized pieces if little ones will be enjoying it. The dumplings give the soup an extra texture and flavor that just can't be matched by noodles.

I like to make a full batch of this soup and split the leftovers into two portions: one for the refrigerator to be used during the week and another for the freezer to be thawed and enjoyed when a cold strikes. You can enjoy the soup as a nice lunch or add some crusty bread or a simple sandwich and call it dinner. It's truly a perfect way to ward off that last cold to be suffered under winter's hand.

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments on the message board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

  • 4 chicken thighs -- about 1.5 lbs.
  • 1 c. diced celery
  • 1 c. diced carrot
  • 1/2 c. diced onion
  • 1/2 c. diced red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic -- minced
  • 8 c. water
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
For the dumplings:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 c. flour

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. Turn the chicken and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and remove and discard the skin.

Add the celery, carrots, onion, red pepper and garlic to the stockpot and sauté them over medium heat until softened, but not browned. Return the chicken to the pot and mix to combine. Add the water to the pot, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken and de-bone it. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and return it to the pot. Season to taste and continue heating over low heat.

Meanwhile, combine the eggs, seasoning and water in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and gradually add the flour until a batter forms. Drop the batter by rounded tablespoonfuls into salted boiling water. Allow the dumplings to boil for about 5 minutes before removing from the water. You can either add the dumplings directly to the soup or cut them into smaller pieces according to your tastes. Serve the soup piping hot.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour