It’s time to stock my freezer with some portions of homemade chicken soup for the cold winter ahead. I’ve made a classic chicken noodle soup in the past, but I wanted to try a little something different this time.
The word “dumpling” has a million different culinary definitions. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but just about every culture has its own version of dumplings and they’re all different. The dumplings that I grew up with were fluffy biscuit-like lumps that floated on top of soup like little delicious clouds. I wanted some of those dumplings. This is not a recipe for the thick, noodle-like dumpling similar to what you’d get at Cracker Barrel.
I started with a basic chicken noodle soup recipe, but made it in the slow cooker instead of on the stove top and with less broth so that it would have more of a stew-like consistency. Instead of adding noodles at the end, I simply mixed up a batch of drop biscuits and dropped them by the spoonful on top of the “soup.” The heat from the soup steams the biscuits, turning them into fluffy, broth soaked dumplings. The part of the dumpling touching the soup does get soggy, but IMHO that’s half of the beauty. If you’re not into that sort of texture, you can simply substitute your favorite noodle and turn it into a slow cooker chicken noodle soup!
I got about six servings out of this – approx. 1 cup of the soup part and 1-2 massive dumplings. It was very filling!
Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings
- 2 cloves garlic $0.16
- 1 medium yellow onion $0.57
- 3 ribs celery $0.80
- ½ lb (3-4) carrots $0.55
- 1 large (3/4 lb.) chicken breast $1.49*
- 1 whole bay leaf $0.15
- 1 tsp dried basil $0.10
- 1 tsp dried thyme $0.10
- freshly cracked pepper $0.05
- 4 cups water $0.00
- 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste) $0.05
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour $0.21
- 1½ tsp baking powder $0.15
- ½ tsp salt $0.02
- ½ Tbsp dried parsley $0.15
- 6 Tbsp cold butter $0.90
- ¾ tsp sugar $0.01
- ⅔ cup milk $0.41
- Mince the garlic, dice the onion, and slice the carrots and celery into small pieces. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, basil, thyme, chicken breast, water, and some freshly cracked pepper to a slow cooker. Stir to combine and then cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.
- After cooking for four hours on high or eight hours on low, remove the chicken from the broth and place it on a cutting board (if you cooked on low heat, turn it to high now). Use two forks to shred the chicken. Return the chicken to the pot and stir in 1 tsp of salt to the soup. Keep the slow cooker covered as much as possible during this process to retain heat and maintain the temperature.
- Allow the soup to continue to cook on high while you mix the dumpling batter. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, parsley, and sugar. Mix well. Add butter in small chunks and cut it in or work it in with your hands until the mixture resembles damp sand. Add the milk and stir until a very soft paste-like mixture forms.
- Remove the lid from the slow cooker and drop the dumpling batter into the soup by the heaping spoonful. Return the lid to the slow cooker and allow the dumplings to steam for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes they should have fluffed and expanded from the heat. Although they may look moist on the outside, they will be light and fluffy on the inside. Serve hot.
Step by Step Photos
I like to add a lot of vegetables to my chicken & dumplings to round out the meal. I used half of a sleeve of celery, half of a one pound bag of carrots, a medium onion, and a couple cloves of garlic. Mince the garlic, dice the onion, and cut the celery and carrots into slices.
Most of the soups that I make start with this same mix of carrots, celery, and onion. So, instead of letting the second half of the celery and carrots go to waste, I just chop them up, put them in a freezer bag, and then save them for my next batch of soup. Next time I’ll only have to do a fraction of the chopping!
Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, chicken breast (it’s hiding under there), bay leaf, basil, thyme, and some freshly cracked pepper to the slow cooker.
Add four cups of water and give it a good stir. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.
After which, it will look like this. From this point forward, you want to keep the lid on the slow cooker as much as possible to hold the heat in. The hotter the liquid, the lighter and fluffier the dumplings will be. If you cooked yours on low, turn the heat to high at this point.
Quickly remove the chicken breast and replace the lid on the slow cooker. Using two forks, shred the chicken breast. It will be extremely tender, so this should only take second.
Return the chicken breast to the slow cooker and add a teaspoon of salt. Again, try to keep the lid on as much as possible, so work quickly. Allow it to continue to cook on high (with the lid on) while you mix up the batter for the dumplings… (or you can add some noodles at the point and just let them cook until tender).
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl: flour baking powder, salt, sugar, and dried parsley. Stir until they are well combined.
Add small pieces of the cold butter to the dry ingredients. Work the butter in using a pastry cutter or your hands until it resembles damp sand.
See how it kind of looks like clumpy, damp sand? Add the milk and then stir just until it forms a wet paste-like mixture.
It should be very soft and easy to scoop with a spoon. If your dough is too stiff (not enough milk) the dumplings will be dense and not light and fluffy.
Drop the batter onto the soup by the heaping spoonful. Hopefully the soup will be very close to, if not simmering at this point. The hotter the soup, the better the dumplings. Unfortunately I had kept the lid off a lot to take photos, so mine had cooled off significantly.
Keeping the lid on and the heat turned on to high, let the dumplings cook for 20 minutes. They’ll puff up like this as they cook.
I like to break the dumplings apart a bit because it also allows the bits of soaked dumpling to mix into the broth and make it a little creamy. Now it’s ready to serve!
Hearty, delicious, and 100% homemade!