Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cozy Chicken-dumpling Soup

The fact that Christmas is technically over is enough to make me weep. Actually, I did weep yesterday after  listening to the song Empty four times in a row off of the Ray LaMontagne vinyl I got Nick for Christmas...I am always sad after the hustle and bustle and excitement and planning and joy of Christmas come to an end. Thankfully Nick and I have two christmas' still to come-- one with his parents, and one with my dads side of the family-- so for that I am grateful. I can wean myself off my favorite time of year.

We had a white Christmas with a lovely dusting of snow on the 25th, but today New England is giving us a heavy dosage. Outside its coming down hard and fast and there is already at least seven inches.

 Today is another day off in my luxurious four day vacation, and I am pretty much stranded at home. I am terrified of driving in ANY snow, much less this much, and I left my snow boots in Salem which I am regretting since I could have snow shoed at the farm today...if I could have driven myself there...which I couldn' I guess it's fine. Its a do-indoor-cardio and drink-hot-tea and watch-twenty-episodes-of-Downton-Abbey sort of day anyway.

Our Christmas was a lovely one. It was wonderful to be able to spend so much time with my brother and his family, and with Nick as well. I do not know how I got so lucky as to have him, but I certainly am happy it came about that way. He spoiled me to no end on Christmas with so many beautiful gifts, and my brother and his wife made and stuffed two beautiful stockings for us-- it was overall a perfect day. And maybe I'll cry one more time, because Empty started playing again, and it is maybe the most beautiful song. The most beautiful.

Yesterday, after a seven mile run, an intense deep clean of the house, and a cry fest, I made a light and cozy dinner for Nick and I. After the constant eating of the holidays, I was happy to get us back to our normal dining habit. As a kid, Chicken soup with dumplings was one of my absolute favorite things, and I lightened up ours by cutting the recipe in half and shrinking the size of the dumplings. Because really, you can only eat one, and it doesn't need to be the size of your head.
This recipe makes a minimum of four servings--closer to five, and with just two tablespoons of butter (as opposed to half a stick) it's hardly a splurge. The soup is light and savory, and the dumpling were incredibly light and fluffy-- they practically melted in the mouth. The perfect Post-Christmas-Blues dinner.

2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
1/2 white onion, diced
4 carrots, two diced, two sliced
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped small
5-6 cups chicken  broth
about 1 cup shredded chicken
salt, pepper, thyme, sage, and parsley

Dumplings: (I used a buttermilk pancake mix that was leftover from Christmas breakfast-- but it would be just as easy to do without it)
1 1/4 cup biscuit/pancake mix
2 tbs melted butter
dash of salt
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 smashed garlic clove
dash of pepper
1 slice of provolone cheese, cut up 

To start, put a little olive oil into your dutch oven (Hurrah! A non crockpot meal!) and smash up four cloves of garlic. Toss it into the heated oil, and add in half an onion and two of the diced up carrots. 
  Add in a little salt and pepper and cook until the veggies are getting soft. Add in the chicken broth, cauliflower, chicken, and spices. I roasted two large legs of chicken and shredded it, because that's what I had, but you could use left over rotisserie chicken, or turkey, or a cooked breast. Whatever you have on hand.

Let all of this simmer for a half hour or so. This is when I listened to Empty four times and wept. After you've dried your eyes, put the dumplings together. I added in the 1/4 cup milk slowly until it reached the consistency I liked, so it may take slightly less. Drop the batter into the pot by rounded spoonfuls-- it should make at least six dumplings. Cover it up, and let them steam in there for fifteen minutes, or until they've swelled up and taken over the pot.

And then it's ready for the eating!
 Easy, warm, comforting, and filled with the coziness of Christmas. I hope that everyone stays safe on this blizzard-y day, and Merry Just-After-Christmas to you! As you can see, we're still using our Holiday bowls.

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