Road trips for our family often included a stop at the Cracker Barrel. It was awesome because not only was it a restaurant but an old-timey store too with things like penny candy and old fashioned toys. Whenever we went to the Cracker Barrel I would get two things, stick candy (tutti-fruitti and root beer) and chicken and dumplings. I loved the chicken and dumplings, the creamy gravy and the soft doughy dumplings were my idea of comfort. It’s been a long time since I have had that dish but last winter I got a craving for those dumplings and wanted to try and create something similar but a lot healthier. Long story short, this dumpling soup is NOTHING like the Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings. But I don’t count this recipe as a total failure because I ended up with a really delicious, warming, and comforting soup. This is a perfect cold day meal and it doesn’t take too much effort to put together. While I’ve left out chicken and added beans, you can easily add in cooked chicken to this soup.
For the soup
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
- 5 to 6 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional but adds a nice cheesy flavor)
- 1 1/2 cups white beans, dried and cooked or canned
- 1 to 2 tbsp brown rice flour, divided (you could also use coconut or whole wheat flour if not gluten-free)
- 5 cups water
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
For the dumplings
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp dill weed or other favorite seasoning
- 1/2 cup milk (I used almond)
1. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onion, carrots, and celery until lightly brown. Add in garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Stir in thyme and sprinkle vegetables with a tablespoon of brown rice flour. If all your vegetables aren’t coated add another tablespoon of flour. Add in beans, nutritional yeast if using, and water. Make sure you have enough water to cover the vegetables and chickpeas. Add in paprika, salt and pepper, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cover.
2. While your soup is simmering, whisk together all the dry ingredients for the dumplings. Add in the 1/2 cup of milk and stir to combine. Let the dough sit for 10 minutes.
3. Uncover the soup and drop spoonfuls of the dumpling dough into the soup. Once the batter is gone, cover the sip with a lid and leave for 20 minutes. DON’T lift the lid during this time to check the dumplings because that will lengthen your cook time. At the end of the 20 minutes uncover and check dumplings. They should be fluffy and a little brown around the edges. If some of the dumplings have fused together just break apart with a wooden spoon.
4. Ladle both dumplings and the soup into bowls and enjoy!
The dumplings and flour help make a wonderfully thick and creamy soup. While I didn’t get exactly the recipe I was looking for, I got a really yummy soup that is perfect for the cold weather that is coming. This is also a really good soup to share with a group of people. Perfect for family gatherings in front of the fire. Isn’t that a cozy picture? Have a great weekend everyone and see you on Monday!