Thursday, October 27, 2011

No-Chicken & Dumplings

No-Chicken & Dumplings


For the broth:
1-2 cups Celery, chopped
1/2 cup Sweet Onion, chopped (can sub onion powder and/or dried onions ~1 Tbs)
(You can also use a whole onion if Organic (usually smaller) or if they
come small around you-- ours are huge)
2 cups Carrots, chopped

Saute these in 3 Tbs. Olive Oil or a mix of oil and vegan margarine. You can also
use all margarine, but it may have a tendency to burn on the bottom later in the
cooking process to be careful.

While the vegetables are softening, prepare the dumplings.

For the dumplings:
2 cups flour, any kind though you can most definitely taste the healthy
wheaty-ness of whole grain flours here.
1/4 cup(+/-) vegan shortening
1/4 cup (+/-) plant milk, preferably of the unsweetened variety
1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage
1/2 tsp Onion Powder (opt.)
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder (opt.)

Mix the spices with the flour in a large bowl. The spices are optional but they lend more flavor and can turn a doughy dumpling disaster into something that at least tastes good. I like to implement self preservation when I cook, but that's just me.

In the same bowl, cut the shortening into the flour with a fork. You want tiny
little balls of flour covered shortening basically. If won't be perfect but you
don't want a bunch of dry flour at the bottom so just keep cutting in more if you
need to.

Add the plant milk a little at a time until the dough comes together. You don't
want it wet and it shouldn't stick to your hands. You're going to pinch pieces off
and flatten them between your thumb and forefinger.

Let your dough sit while you finish the broth:

You can use any type of broth you want, but I consider this indispensable: Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken. This broth base tastes amazing despite its slightly too yellow coloring. I use it in a ton of dishes and they also offer Vegetable and No-Beef bases.

Finish the soup:

To your softened *but not done* vegetables, add 8 cups of water mixed with 2 Tbs. No-Chicken base. If you're using pre-made broth skip any added bases/powders. If you're using a different broth base, adjust the seasoning accordingly-- No-Chicken is on the stronger flavored side so you may need more. You may even need more of the No-Chicken, I personally like to add more.

Here you can add any other spices you like. Some may like rosemary but I'm partial to sage. I add about a Tablespoon of Rubbed Sage here but tasting sometimes prompts me to add more.

I also add 1/2 to 1 cup of frozen green peas at this point. 

Bring the mixture up to a boil.

Pinch off pieces of your dough ball and flatten them between your fingers. You can make them as big or as small as you want though big ones take longer to cook. Also note that whole grain flours take longer as well.

Once the dumplings are all in, they'll need anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes to cook. I just keep testing them as many people like varying degrees of dumpling doneness anyway. In the meantime the soup will get thicker from the dumplings. Be careful to stir every once in a while so that the soup doesn't get too thick and burn on the bottom.

You can always add more broth if it gets overwhelming. I like to wait until the dumplings are mostly done and add a touch more plant milk to make it extra creamy, but this is optional.

Also optional is the "Chicken." If you prefer your dumplings with some sort of faux chicken, prepare it in a separate pan and add at the last minute. Faux meats don't stand up well to boiling or sitting in liquid because they tend to absorb it. I'd also advise keeping the faux chicken completely separate and only adding it to individual portions, saving the leftover chicken in a separate container from the leftover soup, thereby preserving the texture of the chicken.