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We’ve been enjoying an usually cold winter in Florida. Unusually cold = several days in the 60’s. I know, Northern Folks (my family is from Michigan), please don’t throw any snowballs at me. The chill in the air has called for making lots of soup. Today’s recipe, Einkorn Chicken and Dumpling Soup, has become our favorite soup. It’s the BEST homemade chicken soup that I’ve ever made, and when the soup is topped with buttery einkorn dumplings (we’ll talk about einkorn in a bit)…this soup is absolute perfection!
What is chicken and dumpling soup?
I don’t remember ever eating chicken and dumpling soup as a child. It wasn’t until recent years that this Great Depression Era soup (it was considered a staple during those hard economic times) came into my life. I’ve tried a number of different versions of chicken and dumpling soup over the years, but today’s recipe is the best of the best (in my opinion). It’s inspired by Elliott Homestead’s recipe, with a few tweaks here and there (as that’s how I generally cook in the kitchen).
So what is chicken and dumpling soup? Well, it’s a soup that’s made by first cooking chicken (in this case a whole chicken, but I’ll offer up some short-cut tips later) in water. Doing this creates a broth and the meat for the soup. Veggies are sautéed for the soup base, then the cooked chicken, broth, and a few spices are added. After a few minutes of this mixture simmering, homemade dumplings (think: biscuits) are dropped on top of the soup and cooked right there in the broth. There are several dumpling variations, some are rolled out flat and others are rolled into a ball or just dropped in the soup. I prefer the dropped version. The result is the most heavenly and comforting meal.
How to Make Einkorn Chicken and Dumpling Soup
Today’s recipe is easy to make and the ingredients are incredibly simple. There’s nothing fancy about this soup, but you couldn’t tell from looking at it or eating it. It’s a simple dish (remember it’s a Great Depression recipe) with big flavor and vibrancy. Chicken and dumpling soup is also incredibly hearty, so there’s no need to make anything else to go with it.
Here’s how to make this soup, step-by-step…
- First, fill a stock/soup pot (or Dutch oven) with 8-10 cups of water, a couple of celery stalks, carrots, and an onion. Add a few pinches of salt and then a whole chicken (around 3-4lbs). Bring the water and chicken to a lively simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through (it should begin falling off the bone) and the water has turned into a golden broth. This will take about an hour.
- Next, remove the chicken carefully from the broth and strain the veggies away from the broth using a colander. Let the chicken and broth rest while you work on the soup base.
- For the soup base, chop a few celery stalks, carrots, and an onion. Saute this mixture in butter, then add minced garlic, salt, dried oregano and thyme, and a few tablespoons of einkorn flour. The einkorn flour will help thicken the chicken and dumpling soup, but it’s important that it’s added at this stage to avoid a floury taste in the soup.
- Next, shred the chicken (I like to keep the pieces fairly large) and add the chicken and 8 cups of broth to the veggies. Simmer this mixture for about 20 minutes, until the veggies are cooked through.
- While the soup simmers, make the einkorn dumplings: combine einkorn flour, melted butter, milk, baking powder, salt, and chopped fresh herbs in a bowl. Stir just until combined.
- Use an ice cream scooper or a large spoon to scoop the dumpling mixture from the bowl into the soup. The dumplings should float on top of the mixture and will expand as they simmer over the next 15 minutes. Once cooked through, the dumplings will have a glossy, wet appearance on the top and a drier (biscuit-like texture) on the inside.
- To serve, scoop out an einkorn dumpling or two, then ladle soup around the dumpling(s). Top with some freshly chopped herbs for extra vibrancy and flavor.
What is einkorn flour?
The dumplings in this recipe are made with einkorn flour, hence the recipe name “einkorn chicken and dumpling soup”. If you’re new to this flour, here’s what you need to know.
Einkorn is a variety of wheat. It’s known as the oldest variety of wheat, or the first wheat, making it an ancient grain. This particular species of grass grew wild for thousands of years before it was intentionally planted and harvested. Einkorn hasn’t been hybridized (crossbred like modern day wheat) so it still holds to its original properties and nutritional values. In our effort to make modern wheat “better” and more efficient from a production standpoint, nutrients have been lost. Einkorn has a much higher protein content (30% more) and less starch (15% less) along with a higher concentration of minerals and flavor than modern wheat. This makes einkorn distinctly different than modern wheat.
Einkorn is NOT a gluten-free grain. This means einkorn is not safe if you have celiac disease (an autoimmune condition). According to celiac.org, about 1 in 100 people have celiac disease. If you have celiac disease or currently cannot consume gluten (there are times when gluten may need to be temporarily removed to heal the gut, etc.), I recommend making this gluten-free chicken and dumpling soup recipe.
Personally, I’ve found that I digest einkorn well (and this is one reason einkorn is gaining popularity as more people are sensitive to modern wheat), along with wheat breads and baked goods that have gone through the sourdough process (which makes grain easier to digest–a practice that has been around for thousands of years). Einkorn is known for being easy to digest since it hasn’t been changed or altered. This is why so many of the recipes on the blog feature this grain.
Where to Buy Einkorn Flour
You can find einkorn at some Whole Foods and health food stores, Earth Fare, Vitacost, and Amazon. Definitely shop around as prices can vary based on the retailer.
My favorite brand is Jovial Foods since finding their products is fairly easy and I’ve come to respect this brand as a leader in the real food movement. Another fantastic source for einkorn (flour and berries) is einkorn.com. If you use a lot of einkorn, buying a large bag of flour from Jovial is the most economical option. To learn more about einkorn, I recommend reading this post and listening to this podcast with Carla from Jovial (hearing her daughter’s story about gluten sensitivity is worth it).
This recipe does take some planning and time to make since you must first cook a whole chicken in water to make the broth and meat base. This takes about an hour of hands-off time, but it’s still an extra time piece to this recipe that may not be ideal on a busy weeknight. I usually make this soup on the weekend, when I have more time at home and can set my chicken to cook in the afternoon and then make the dumpling soup in the evening. If you want to reduce the time it takes to make this recipe or prep some elements ahead of time, here are my time-saving recommendations.
- Cook the chicken and broth in advance. Do this on the weekend or a day when you’re home, then shred the chicken and place in a storage container and store the broth in a different container. The broth and chicken will both be ready in the fridge when you need them. Store the chicken and broth for up to 4 days in the fridge. Keep in mind, doing so will reduce the amount of time you can store the chicken and dumpling soup in the fridge if you have leftovers since the broth and chicken are already several days old.
- Use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Simply buy an already-cooked whole chicken from the store. You’ll also need to pick up broth or if you have some in your freezer, defrost and use that. This option won’t have the same amazing flavor as the homemade route, but it will still be delicious.
Best Homemade Einkorn Chicken and Dumpling Soup
Einkorn Chicken and Dumpling Soup is our favorite soup to enjoy in the winter. It's the BEST homemade chicken soup that I've ever made, and when the soup is topped off with buttery einkorn dumplings...perfection!
For the Broth/Chicken:
- 1 3-4lb whole chicken
- 8-10 cups water enough water to submerge the chicken
- 2 celery stalks cut in half or left whole, whatever fits in the pot
- 1-2 carrots cut in half or left whole, whatever fits in the pot
- salt just a few pinches
- pepper or peppercorns, just a few pinches or a few peppercorns
- 1 white onion cut in half and skin removed
For the Soup:
- 4 TB butter salted or unsalted, whatever you have on hand
- 4-5 large carrots cut into coins or slices
- 4 celery stalks chopped
- 1 sweet yellow or white onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 TB all-purpose einkorn flour
- shredded meat from a 3-4lb whole chicken from the chicken cooked above or see time-saving tips below
- 8 cups chicken broth from the broth made while cooking the chicken or see time-saving tips below
For the Broth/Chicken:
Place the chicken and vegetables in large soup pot or Dutch oven. I didn't add parsley to the broth ingredients, but if you have extra around you can throw in a handful as well. Add water, enough to cover the chicken (my chicken usually isn't fully submerged, but the majority of chicken should be), about 8-10 cups. Add salt and either ground pepper or a few peppercorns.
Bring the mixture to a lively simmer, then cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. The mixture will need to simmer for about an hour, cooking the chicken and creating a fragrant broth.
Make the Chicken Soup:
Melt the butter in a large soup pot or Dutch oven (the one pictured in my post is a Staub 4 quart).
Once melted, add the carrots, celery, onion, and a pinch of salt. Saute for about 6-8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.
Add the garlic, oregano, and thyme and saute for just a minute or two. Add the salt, pepper, and flour. Stir until the flour coats the vegetables.
Add the shredded chicken and chicken broth, stir.
Allow the soup to simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes. Taste the soup and add more salt or pepper, if needed. I don't find that I need to add more salt. Everyone's taste is different.
Make the Einkorn Dumplings:
While the soup cooks, I recommend making the dumpling batter. To do this, whisk together the einkorn flour, baking powder, salt, and fresh parsley (if using).
Add the melted butter and milk to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. This should be a wet and sticky dough.
Use an ice cream scooper or large spoon to scoop the batter from the bowl into the soup. The dumplings should float on top of the soup, if one sinks use a spoon to bring it to the top (I've only had this happen once, not sure why).
Cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the dumplings are cooked through. They will appear "wet" or glossy on the outside, but on the inside should be like a dry biscuit texture.
To serve, scoop out one or two dumplings into a bowl along with soup. Add chopped fresh parsley on top for vibrance and flavor (optional).
Store Leftover Soup:
This soup stores very well. I love to make it for dinner one night and serve it for lunch the next day. Store the soup and dumplings together in an air-tight container in the fridge. I've never tried freezing this soup so I can't speak to that. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove-top.
This recipe does take some planning and time to make since you must first cook a whole chicken in water to make the broth and meat base. This takes about an hour of hands-off time, but it's still an extra time piece to this recipe that may not be ideal on a busy weeknight. I usually make this soup on the weekend, when I have more time at home and can set my chicken to cook in the afternoon and then make the dumpling soup in the evening. If you want to reduce the time it takes to make this recipe or prep some elements ahead of time, here are my time-saving recommendations.
- Cook the chicken and broth in advance. Do this on the weekend or a day when you're home, then shred the chicken and place in a storage container and store the broth in a different container. The broth and chicken will both be ready in the fridge when you need them. Store the chicken and broth for up to 4 days in the fridge. Keep in mind, doing so will reduce the amount of time you can store the chicken and dumpling soup in the fridge if you have leftovers since the broth and chicken are already several days old.
- Use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Simply buy an already-cooked whole chicken from the store. You'll also need to pick up broth or if you have some in your freezer, defrost and use that. This option won't have the same amazing flavor as the homemade route, but it will still be delicious.
More Recipes to Make With Einkorn
Here are some of my favorite recipes to make with a bag of einkorn flour, besides einkorn chicken and dumpling soup, of course.
- Einkorn Flour Tortillas
- Homemade Einkorn Biscuits
- Fluffy Einkorn Pancakes
- The Best Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Einkorn Chocolate Cake
- Einkorn Pizza Muffins