It’s officially the autumn season, which means I officially have the cold or flu. Ironically, I got sick the day after my flu shot.
Being sick during autumn means at some point I get sick of the diet of DayQuil keeping me functional and I decide to make soup. I consider myself a bit of a soup fiend and I know how to make several different kinds of soup, but there is only one kind that will suffice for this situation: Chicken Dumpling soup.
It’s the kind of soup that will go “Fuck you, Chicken Noodle!” before going to punch a cold right in the dick. It’s so simple that you’d have to have the incompetent cooking abilities of Akane Tendo to fuck it up. Yet despite its simplicity that only requires a handful of ingredients, its super flavorful and delicious.
As much as I love this soup, I also dread making it—it’s my mother’s soup. Unlike some other things that remind me of her, it’s not as simple as being reminded of the mentally, emotionally abusive toxic parent that I haven’t had a relationship with since I went no contact nearly nine years ago. The soup was actually one of the better things about her. She’d make it when I was feeling sick like any normal, caring mother would…including the time I was sick about two months before I left home and went no contact. This is the sort of fond memory anyone who has parents that they have a good, loving relationship would have. Except I don’t have such a relationship with the parent associated with this memory. I can remember things like her screaming at me and pushing the right buttons until I was in tears and I can pass those moments off as her being the psycho is truly is, but I can’t do that in this case because she wasn’t acting like a horrible person. I have to question if she really did care in those moments or if she was manipulating me into thinking that she loved me. That makes it harder than most other memories of her.
I make the soup a little differently. She chops her vegetables into chunks; I dice mine. She uses Better than Bouillon for her broth; I use Swanson chicken broth from a box. She throws everything into the boiling pot of broth; I sauté the vegetables and chicken before pouring in the broth. She never goes beyond eight ingredients (carrot, onion, celery, chicken broth, chicken, flour, eggs, milk); my ninth ingredient is chopped garlic. Her dumplings are plain; I typically add herbs like parsley or dill to mine. Her chicken meat comes from the large bags of leg quarters she buys (if she added chicken as sometimes we were too poor to afford meat); I’ll be damned if I buy those red bulk bag of leg quarters again for as long as I live. Most of these minor changes weren’t done intentionally, but once I noticed that I was doing them I continued to use these minor changes to lessen the association between the soup and my mother. Out of all my coping mechanisms, this is probably the weirdest one.
No blog post about a particular food that includes a long-winded personal story would be complete without slapping a recipe of said food at the end. (For the record, I wasn’t going to include the recipe when I started writing this, but decided to include it when I couldn’t figure out a better way to end this post).
Chicken Dumpling Soup
1 Onion, diced
1 32 oz. box of Swanson chicken broth
1 spoonful chopped garlic (I use the kind from a jar, but feel free to chop or press your own if you like)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
*I don’t have a set amount for these ingredients. I typically just chop the carrots and celery until I feel there’s enough, but I think I use about 3-5 carrots/celery each.
**The chicken varies. Sometimes I buy a rotisserie chicken from deli chop that up. Sometimes I buy the smallest package of raw chicken I can find and sometimes the part of the chicken I buy (breasts, legs, etc) depend on my budget (though I’ll buy breasts if my budget allows). If using raw chicken, season with salt and pepper before sautéing.
***Herbs are for dumplings. I typically use dry parsley or dill, but you can try other herbs or use fresh herbs. I’ll have to try rosemary or thyme some time.
- Heat your pot over medium heat. Add a little butter or oil to the bottom and sauté the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and chicken with a liberal pinch of salt until the onions are translucent.
- Add chicken broth and garlic and bring to a gentle boil.
- While waiting for the broth to boil, make the dumpling mixture. I admittedly have no set measurements for this and learned to eyeball it. I start off with two eggs, add a little milk (roughly about a couple tablespoons), and keep mixing in flour by the spoonful until the dough is the right consistency. Your dough should be stiff and hold its shape yet be sticky and moist. If using herbs, sprinkle a little in at a time while mixing until you feel like there’s enough (I use about a tablespoon or so). I also find it easier to mix with a fork instead of a whisk.
- Drop spoonfuls of dumpling dough into the boiling broth. I like Godzilla-sized dumplings so I use a large spoon from my cutlery drawer and drop heaping spoonfuls of dough with it. You can use the little teaspoon instead for smaller dumplings.
- Cover your pot and boil until your dumplings are done—about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. They’ll turn white and float to the top once they’re done.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve in your favorite soup bowl or coffee mug (or in my case, the kitty cat soup bowl I stole when I left home for good as a sort of “fuck you” to my mother). I also like to top mine off with little pat of butter and either seasoning salt or lemon pepper (I know its odd, but that’s my particular taste).