This requires just a few fresh ingredients and pantry staples that are amazingly cheap
If you follow my suggestion in another hub, you will have stocked up your freezer with chicken you previously purchased on sale. I'm using three pounds of split chicken breasts today. You can make this with any cut up chicken pieces, or start with a whole fryer and cut it up yourself. It doesn't matter what kind of chicken you use as long as you have about 3-4 pounds. I don't reccommend boneless/skinless chicken as the skin and bones are necessary to add flavor and richness to your broth as it simmers.
Now that your chicken lesson is out of the way, Let's get cooking!
Place your chicken pieces in your large stockpot.
Next, large dice two stalks of celery and put it in the pot with your chicken.
Peel 5-6 carrots, slice them and, yup - put them in your pot
Peel and large dice one medium onion - you guessed it! Put them in your pot!
Time to add the liquid
You can use canned chicken broth if you like, but that can get expensive. I'll use home made if I have any, but if I don't - like I didn't have today, I use chicken bullion powder. For this batch I used 4 teaspoons of bullion powder and about 5-6 cups of water, just enough to cover my chicken.
You might use more of less water, depending on the size and shape of the pot you are using.
Add just enough liquid to cover your chicken
Spice it up!
I didn't add any additional salt as there's enough in the bullion powder I use, but if you are using a low salt canned broth you can add a teaspoon of salt at this point.
Add 1.5 teaspoons of pepper.
You can add 3/4 teaspoon of crushed dried thyme if you have it on hand, too.
Once your spices are all in there, give it all a stir, put your lid on and turn on the burner.
Bring the pot to a boil, but then TURN IT DOWN. If you let it continue to boil, your chicken will be tough, and who wants tough chicken? Turn the heat down so that the liquid is just simmering. Simmering results in bubbles breaking just below the surface. If you see a lot of steam escaping your lid, you probably have the heat too high.
Simmer for 1.5-2 hours. Go play with the kids, cruise the net or do whatever you want now. Just give it a stir every now and then to be sure you got the simmer down right and don't boil off all your liquid - that would be bad!
Time to shred your chicken!
Take out your chicken and allow it to cool down enough to handle. I sometimes speed up this step by putting it in a bowl of cool water - hey, it's going back in the broth, so a little water won't hurt it.
Remove the skin, and take the meat off the bones. Discard the skin and bones and shred your chicken into bite sized chunks.
Chicken goes back in, now check your seasoning!
Slip your shredded chicken back into the pot and taste your broth. Add a bit more salt and pepper to taste. Add a bit more liquid if necessary at this point, you want your dumplings to have room to float in the broth and not be touching the bottom as they simmer and cook.
Time to make the Dumplings!
Dumplings are just a basic baking powder biscuit type dough that is simmered instead of baked in a dry oven. The outside will be moist and tasting of the broth, while the inside is a soft fluffy biscuit. Yum, I can hardly wait!
Yes you can just open a can of the supermarket ones and plop in blobs of that dough, but why spend the extra money when these are so easy?
The dough is simple: Combine 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 4 Tablespoons of oil and 3/4 cup of milk in a bowl. Stir. The dough will be stiff and thick, but just stir enough to evenly combine. Over working the dough can lead to "tough" dumplings, and who wants that?
Your chicken, veggies and broth should be back to a simmer by now. Drop the dough by the Tablespoon into your simmering pot full of goodness. Try to keep their size even by using an actual measuring spoon as shown in the picture above.
They'll start to expand and puff up like little clouds shortly after hitting the pot. Try not to overcrowd them, but they should all fit if you are using a large stock pot.
Now put the cover back on your pot and simmer for about 20 minutes. Time to set the table, call the family and then dish up!