Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chicken & Dumplings

The weather has finally cooled off enough here in Virginia for me to start making soup. I love soup. I could almost eat soup every night and not get tired of it--there are just so many wonderful options!

I have this Paul Prudhomme cookbook (If you don't know Paul Prudhomme, you should check him out; he's one of the quintessential Cajun cooking authorities.) that has a recipe for Creole chicken and dumplings. Justin and I like the idea of it, so we thought we'd make our own version. I started with Prudhomme's recipe which has you begin by frying the chicken, which gives it great flavor and texture. I've never had fried chicken in a soup before, but I really enjoyed it. From there, I adapted my usual chicken and dumpling recipe, and altogether it morphed into what you see here. It was really delicious, and Justin and I are both looking forward to making this again soon.

I just want to mention a couple more things before I get to the recipe. I know some people don't really consider chicken and dumplings to be a soup. It's more of a thick-sauced entree, almost like a weird version of biscuits and gravy. I personally prefer it as a soup, but if you don't, that's okay. Just leave out some of the liquid here to make it into a thicker sauce, and maybe go with a different type of dumpling.

That leads me to the dumplings. I'm all for taking the easy way out, at least when the easy way still tastes good. You can make homemade dumplings if you want. The ones called for in the original recipe require you to steam them before adding them to the soup, and that seemed like a lot of hassle to me. You can buy frozen dumplings if you prefer that method. Some people use cut up, refrigerated biscuits as dumplings, and that probably tastes great, too. My favorite dumplings come from an ingenious idea that my mom heard from a co-worker years ago. Cut up flour tortillas into squares and use them as dumplings. You add the tortilla pieces to the broth and let them soak for a few minutes, and they will be soft, puffy, and fantastic. It sounds crazy, but you get all that doughy flavor in the cheapest, easiest way possible. Give it a try. It's not as weird as it might sound, I promise.


3/4 c flour, divided
2 tsp Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere's suggested)
1 1/2 tsp pepper, divided
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 - 1 1/2 lb chicken breasts, cubed
1 c sliced baby carrots
1/2 c diced onion
1/3 c diced bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
8 c chicken broth
2 c water
1 c half-and-half
8 medium-sized flour tortillas
Vegetable oil


Mix 1/2 c flour, Cajun seasoning, 1 tsp pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a bowl with a lid or a large ziploc bag. Add chicken breast cubes, and shake to coat pieces evenly. Heat 1/2" oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken and fry until cooked through, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from pan, and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add carrots to the remaining oil in the pan and cook 5 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Whisk in remaining 1/4 c flour, adding a little more oil if the mixture is too dry. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in a bit of the chicken broth, adding more broth slowly. When the flour mixture has dissolved completely into the liquid, add the remaining chicken broth and the water. Allow to come to a boil.

Add chicken to broth. Pour in half-and-half, and heat through. Meanwhile, cut tortillas into 2" square pieces. Add tortilla pieces to soup and stir well. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir well before serving.

Servings: 6

Recipe adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.

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