Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Comforting Southern Style Chicken(less) Soup with Dumplings

 I don't know about you, but when I start feeling sad, anxious or overwhelmed the act of cooking always makes me feel better. Chopping a zucchini into perfect half moons, the sizzle of onions sauteing, the crush of a clove of garlic beneath my knife  - I find these actions very calming. They allow me to turn off the rest of the world for a bit. Even if I can't control the things that are going on around me, or the state of the world, in my kitchen I have control. Plus, the payoff is usually delicious :)

Late last night, I needed to escape. I've had several people ask me about a vegan chicken noodle soup recipe lately, and while I usually just answer with "try some miso soup!" I decided to give it a try. I don't really keep mock chicken or beef broths on hand, I usually opt for the no-salt added veggie broth cubes, but here a little something extra is necessary. I found this great recipe for vegan chicken-style broth powder from the Healing Heart Foundation ( Chick'n Style Seasoning Blend ). It comes together very quickly in a food processor or blender, and stores easily in an airtight container. Of course, I made a few modifications:

I added:
1 tsp of dried rubbed sage
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (or more if you like)
and only used 1 TBS of the dried parsley

While I heartily enjoy soups containing noodles or rice, when you start talking about comfort food, my mind goes to one thing: dumplings. When I was little, I remember sitting in my great grandmother's kitchen, eagerly helping measure flour and poke at things with my wooden spoon as she taught me how to make true southern dumplings. Plump, savory and delicious. The dumplings I use here are healthier, and of course veganized. Don't get me wrong- the soup would be delicious on it's own, or with some whole wheat elbow or ditalini pasta, but the dumplings add that extra bit of creamy carby goodness. It's not much to look at, but damn it tastes good! Next time, I'm going to try to make these dumplings gluten free using chickpea flour -I'll let you know how they turn out. This makes a great, healthy one pot meal (you've got your veggies, protein and starch all in one pot). Serve with some good crusty bread, bundle up and enjoy! And like most soups, it tastes even better the next day.

Comforting Southern Style Chicken(less) Soup With Dumpling

  • 1 tsp olive, grapeseed, or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 lbs extra firm tofu, cut into small 1/2" cubes  
  • 9 cups water
  • 1 no-salt added veggie broth cube
  • 3.5 TBS  chicken broth powder (recipe at link above)
  • 1 TBS nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper (or to taste)


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • pinch pepper
  • 1.5 TBS  nutritional yeast flakes
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp rubbed sage, parsley or thyme
  • 3/4 cups water
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Add water, and all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the carrots and celery are tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the dumpling batter: Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the water. Mix until you have a thick, sticky dough (add a little more water 1 TBS at a time if your dough is too dry) – careful not to over mix.

Once the carrots and celery are tender, bring the heat back up to a boil. Using two teaspoons, drop dumpling batter into the soup. Reduce the heat back down to a simmer, and cover leaving the lid cracked to let out steam.  Cook for another 15-20 minutes until the dumplings are cooked through. Ladle up and serve!