Friday, November 28, 2008

Chicken & Dumplings For The Soul

This is one of my mother-in-laws famous recipes. It is famous for a reason. It is SO good. She never actually gave me the recipe, so this is my interpretation. In fact she hasn't made it in a while. The last time I remember her making this is when were on vacation in Santa Fe last Easter. This is also when I observed and took mental notes in order to replicate it.

I got the gist of it, but the measurements were all wrong. The first time, I used chicken breast which was good, but I knew the whole chicken would provide more flavor. The second time I used the whole chicken and it was better, but I added too much water and it was a little too soupy for me. During all this trial and error, the dumplings were being tested as well. I've asked my mother-in-law for the recipe a couple of times, and either she couldn't find it or just forgot about it. The first time I made the dumplings, they were okay I think, but they weren't anything memorable. The second time, I didn't add enough dried basil (according to my husband) and the third time, I added too much shortening as they were almost greasy- way too rich and not fluffy.

This time, I think I've done it. These proportions have proved to be the best combination thus far. In fact, I think I'm done tweaking it, there isn't anything I would change. And the two bowl fulls and a happy tummies are indications of it's goodness. My dog even licked the bowl, but when does she not. You can thank Jenn for this recipe, she asked for it a few weeks ago and it made me get in the kitchen and write the recipe down. Before it was all in my head and pieced together on post-its. Now it's all here-for you. This recipe truly comes from my heart, so I hope you enjoy it!

Nonie's Chicken and Dumplings
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped
  • 1 whole chicken fryer (about 4 lbs.)
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 6 cups chicken broth or water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. dried basil (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. Crisco shortening
  • 3/4 -1 cup buttermilk

In a large pot over high heat, saute onions, celery and bouillon cubes in butter til tender. Add whole chicken fryer to pot and cover with 6 cups water or chicken stock. Cook over medium heat til chicken is cooked through.

Once chicken is cooked through, pull out and place on a cutting board. Once cool enough to handle, take off all the meat and shred into bite sided pieces. Add chicken back to pot and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Bring to boil.

While the chicken stew is coming to a boil, make the dumplings: In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and dried basil. Mix dry ingredients and cut in shortening with a fork or a pastry cutter. Stir dough while adding buttermilk. Start with 3/4 cup and add more til completely moistened and biscuit like but not wet.

Drop by the spoon full onto the boiling stew. Do not stir dumplings. Reduce heat to low and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Allow dumplings to steam for 15 minutes. Once dumplings are cooked through, stir dumplings into the stew and serve. The flour from the dumplings will thicken the stew.

NOTE: You can substitute chicken pieces with the bone in or 4 large chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken. Or you can use leftover turkey (about 4 cups) from Thanksgiving. You can also sub milk for the buttermilk.

My happy little hand model :-)


Anonymous said...

I'm definitely going to try the dumpling part since my dumplings were so terrible last time I made it.

And what is the picture in your header?? I want to lick the screen.

Monica H said...

The header background are Blueberry Cheesecake Bars.

I thought they were so pretty :-)

vanillasugarblog said...

soooooo comforting!

Hennifer said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I did end up making some from a recipe I found online a few weeks ago and I was not thrilled.

I think I used too much water as well and it was too soupy and my dumplings just fell apart.

I will definitely give this recipe a try in a few weeks when I go grocery shopping again.

Anonymous said...


I made this soup yesterday and it was SO good. My husband savored each bite and then said, "it tastes like home".

Thank you for sharing this recipe...I can't wait to have the leftovers tonight.


Memória said...

I just ate this for a late lunch! Thanks so much; it was so good!

Odette {OdettesVintage} said...

I could not wait to make this when I saw the recipe, well I finally made it tonight and I just have to say Thank YOU! This was so good & fairly effortless. My kids loved it, this will defntly be a keeper for my recipe file. The only thing I did was add a little heavy cream at the end because mine didn't come out as creamy as I expected it too. But it was divine!!!!!

Tracey said...

This soup/stew is amazing. My husband and picky children loved it. The best part, is it is amazingly easy, but you would never guess it, by the way it tastes.

Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!

LadyJayPee said...

I made this for tonight's dinner, and it was delish! Thank you for sharing, Monica!

Anonymous said...

So the broth of the soup was AWESOME. I wondered why the dumplings were so dense and disgusting..Then after trying to figure out what went wrong...I realize I used 4 tsp of CORN STARCH instead of baking powder!!! lmao...The cans look the same...If I hadn't of messed this up, it def. would of been the best chicken and dumplings recipe I've ever made!

Adele said...

I cannot wait to try this. It is on my weekly menu for this week! Going grocery shopping tonight!

Foodiewife said...

Well, here I am. Two years later and I'm making Chicken and Dumplings (from Cook's Illustrated). Ours our very similar My dumplings are steaming as I type this. Mind you, I've never had chicken and dumplings. My husband is already drooling. I'll let you know how it turns out, and then I can try your version. Love Mr. H's smile, especially now that I've met him

Chef Basket said...

Thanks for Nonie's Chicken and Dumplings recipe. It looks wonderful!

Anonymous said...

How many servings does this make? Im cooking for a group of 12-15 and wondering if i should double this recipe? thanks! looks delicious!

Monica H said...

Anonymous- I just made this again this week and we got about 7 servings out if it. I would definitely double the recipe. But be sure to make it in two separate pits because if you double the dumplings recipe they will not fit in one pan. You don't want to crowd them. Hope you like it!


Unknown said...

Ok, so this is one of my favorite recipes to make whenever anyone in the family is sick. It's a standing joke that it has magical healing powers and will make you feel better right away. I am just recovering from pneumonia and am making it today. I thought it was funny that I'm the only who'll make it, so I had to get better to make it for myself. It's just THAT good Monica. Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

i made this for dinner tonight and it is SO good. at first i was concerned it would be bland due to lack of additional spices (thyme, sage, garlic, etc.) and considered throwing some in but i'm so glad i didn't! it was perfect as is.

i did make a few minor changes including cutting the recipe in half since there are only two of us but next time i'll make the whole thing. i used less chicken and replaced it with carrots and potatoes. i used half the baking powder for high altitude and whole wheat flour for my dumplings.

my husband ate two huge helpings which means i know he loved it too. such a fabulous recipe! thank you so much for sharing.

Jennifer said...

I'm not from the south, in all my years up in Canada, I don't know if I'd even heard of chicken and dumplings. Having moved to KY about 8 months ago, I've never heard so many people so shocked that I'd never had it. So I set out and this is the recipe that I found the most appealing.

In the past month I have made it twice and love it even more, the more I make it.

My husband loved it and it even passed the In-Law test...

Thank you so much for sharing. I'm sure to be making this for many many many more years.

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