Romanian dumpling chicken soup


With the weather is chilling and turning colder each day, I feel I’m regaining my energy and my joie de vivre. I love cold weather food much more that any fancy summer salad, so I just can’t wait to get home from work and start cooking. Cold weather is a time for soups, slow-cooked stews, root veggies, preserves & pickles, pies and crumbles. Researching new recipes is sometimes the most fun a girl can have (or is it only this girl?), but I confess, I usually fall back on my faithful classics. It was not my idea to share this recipe today, but my man’s. Even though I argued anyone knows how to make chicken soup, he scolded me and said this is something for people to see and try. My dumpling chicken soup is apparently too good not to give it a shot. So please do 🙂

What you need

One whole chicken, taken apart (use the carcass, thighs & wings)
4 young carrots
2 large onions
1 piece or parsnip
2 large potatoes
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper
Fresh parsley to top

For the dumplings
4 spoons semolina flour
1 egg
1 spoon vegetable oil
Lots of skill & good gut feeling 🙂

How to make dumpling chicken soup

The broth

Don’t be afraid to take the chicken apart, it’s actually very easy. Cut the breast out first and save it for later- don’t put it in the soup, that’s really a waste. Then remove the thighs and the wings, by simply cutting around and breaking the bone. Wash well all the pieces and put them in a big pot, covered with water. Leave the skin on, you’ll remove it later on. Add the bay leaves and the crushed garlic cloves, cover and forget it on the stove on low heat. Check once in a while, though, and remove the foam. It’s not a science, but I usually leave them simmering for about 30 minutes. When the time is up, peal the carrots, the onion, the potatoes and the parsnip. I don’t chop any of veggies, just dump them in the pot as they are. Or maybe just cut the potatoes in half if too big. This will save you a lot of time and effort later on. Leave the soup boiling for another 20-30 minutes, until the veggies are cooked and soft. Now leave the soup chill for a bit and then strain it into a different pot. I usually slice one carrot and some parsnip and add them back to the pot, because I like some color in the soup and I love root veggies. However, this should be a clear soup with dumplings, so don’t overload it with chopped veggies.

The dumplings

There are two type of women in this world: the ones who can make Romanian semolina dumplings and the ones who can’t. Trust me, you’ll know soon enough to which camp you belong to. To give you an example, both me and my mum are dumpling-experts, but my grandma is not: she always asks my mum to make them for her. However, you can try to learn this elusive skill and you might even improve with time, don’t worry. Two things can go wrong here (and you should strive to avoid both of them): either the dumplings come apart (disgusting stuff floating in the soup) or they are rock-hard and impossible to eat. They need to be firm and hold together, but still be fluffy and soft.
I’ll try to give you a honest account of how I do it, but you’re pretty much on your own here. Wisk the egg together with the salt and a spoon of sunflower oil. Then start adding the semolina flour. Pay attention, because this is where things get tricky. My favorite food writer, Sanda Marin, says the composition needs to resemble thick, fat sour cream. A description which is as infuriating, as it is poetic. Yes, the composition needs to be thick, but still runny. For one small egg and one spoon of oil, I added four full spoons of semolina flour. You need to scoop it with a spoon and submerge it in the soup, very slowly (at first, till you get the hang of it). Wait a bit and see what happens to the dumpling: if it comes apart, you’ll need to add more semolina flour to the composition (and take out the floaty pieces from the soup). Once you’ve dumped all the dumplings (!) in the soup add a cup of cold water and let the whole thing come to a boil. Taste and season for salt & pepper. That’s it, turn off the stove and say an ode to the Dumpling-God who saw you through this.
The soup & dumplings hold well in the fridge for about five days. Five blissful days, when you’ll have hot chicken soup every evening!

The leftovers

You’ll have plenty of leftovers after this delicious soup: chicken meat & veggies. Take the meat off the bones and transform it into a different dish. A creamy, mushroom chicken stew, a poulet basquaise, a chicken taco…there are endless possibilities. My favorite way to make use of it? Season well with salt and pepper and just fry it in a pan until it becomes deliciously crispy. I like to eat it with a garlic salsa & salad. As for the boiled veggies? The onion is destined to go in the trash, same as the chicken skin and the garlic cloves. What can you do with the rest of the carrots, potato & parsnip? Either a stoemp (mash them together with butter, just as you’d make mashed potatoes). Or sprinkle with olive oil, salt & pepper and put them under the broil in the oven. Add few drops of good quality balsamic vinegar and chopped chives on top and you’ll have an amazing side dish.

3 thoughts on “Romanian dumpling chicken soup

  1. Pingback: Traditional Romanian chicken dumpling soup! Because the cold weather is coming. ... - Recipes

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