As you may know, Mike the Viking doesn’t eat soup. Soup is for invalids and babies — creatures that have no place in the Viking hierarchy. Which is why when I traditionally flee his hut over the winter solstice (when he is busy communing with Ullr) I head to my mother’s and start making soup.
Chief amongst soups the Viking finds abominable is chicken and dumplings, so naturally I made it immediately.
Chicken thighs. An ode:
o my chicken thighs
how very precious you are
gonna eat that bitch
The thing about chicken and dumplings is that for years now – YEARS – I have been trying to make “the perfect” dumpling, and I simply cannot. I spoke of Niffles, and I assure you, Niffles are leaden balls of lead. I mean dough.
I’ve tried rendering down my own chicken fat to make the dumplings from. Nope.
I can tell you that leeks are also magical, particularly in soups. All the magic of onions but without scaring off people that pretend to not like onions.
Oh! I almost forgot: so, at one point while my mom and I were cooking this pot of chicken and dumplings, I said to her “Why don’t you get the herbs.” After a few minutes I turned around and saw this, just as you see it:
My mother, for no reason at all and certainly without intentionally trying to be strange, formed some kind of herb-henge on the counter. I don’t know what else to call it. Perfect little piles of fresh herbs, laid out about 12 inches apart. When I asked her what she was hoping to achieve she told me to mind my own damn business. Now you know as much as I do.
Back to the dumplings. The solution to my years of effort? Bisquick.
Yep, Bisquick, that quick mix of biscuits we all know. Made according to the instructions on the side of the box, with an addition of fresh herbs. Of all the stupid damn things. The outsides were creamy and soft and the insides were fluffy and cooked through, just like a baked biscuit. As a wise man once said, you gotta know when to fold ’em.
makes about 4 servings – the dumplings don’t keep terribly well, so halve the the dumpling portion of the recipe if you’re planning on serving just to two people and keeping the leftovers. the next time you eat the soup, either make another batch of dumplings or do what my mom likes to do and boil down some fresh egg noodles in the soup and turn it into chicken noodle.
2 – 3 pounds of chicken thighs, bone-in and with skin still on
1 box of chicken broth (about 4 or 5 cups) plus 1 cup of water
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced small
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup frozen peas or freshly chopped carrots (optional)
salt and pepper to taste (lots of both!)
fresh rosemary, sage and parsley to taste – about 3 Tbsp. of total chopped volume
Bisquick dumplings, made according to directions on box, with 1 Tbsp of the fresh herbs added
- First, pull the skin off the chicken thighs and throw it away. I know: why buy it with the skin on and then remove it? Because we want some chicken fat still on the thighs, but not all of it. The pre-skinned thighs are always much too clean. Place the chicken thighs in a large soup pot with the box of chicken broth and additional cup of water and the two bay leaves. Turn heat to medium, bring to a low simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until chicken is done, about 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of the thighs. Don’t worry about it too much, the meat will be cooked one more time.
- Remove the thighs from the broth, set aside to cool at room temperature, and reserve the entire pot with the broth, fat and all to a rear burner over low-low heat. Fish the bay leaves out and throw them away.
- While the thighs are cooling, clean (CLEAN!) the leeks and then chop them along with the onions and carrots, if using. In a saute pan, cook the veggies over medium-high heat in the butter and olive oil until just beginning to color, about 7 – 10 minutes. To this, add the flour and stir to evenly coat and wet through the veggies and fat. Allow to cook another 3 minutes.
- Doing one ladle at a time, add three ladles of warm chicken broth to the saute pan of veggies and flour, and stir quickly – you’ve made a roux, or thickener, and if you don’t stir it will turn to glue. When you’ve got a nice thick but runny slurry, dump the slurry back into the pot of chicken broth on the back burner. Put the saute pan in the sink, move the pot of broth and veggies to the front burner, and bring up to a low simmer over medium-low heat.
- While it’s coming up to heat, tear the now-cool chicken thigh meat off the bones. Toss it into the soup.
- Simmer the soup for about 10 – 15 minutes to thicken and marry the flavors. If using, add the frozen peas at some point during this process, along 2 tablespoons of the fresh herbs.
- While the soup is simmering, prepare the dumplings according to the package’s instructions and add 1 tablespoon of the chopped fresh herbs. Making sure the soup is at a good solid simmer — almost a boil — drop the dumplings in and cook according to the box, which is basically to cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then covered for an additional 10.
- Eat and rejoice.