What Better Way to Survive the Winter than With Chicken Dumpling Soup?

These recipes are a gift to me and my sons but more importantly they are a gift to my mother and the elder women in my family.

My parents have given me so much over the years but one of the most important things they have instilled in me is my appreciation and love of food, particularly the importance of sharing meals with loved ones.

Growing up, our family ate together most nights of the week. An easier task back then as it was a time before kid’s midnight hockey practices and Baby Mozart lessons, but it was my mother’s perseverance to have us all at the dinner table that was truly the driving force in our family meals.

My mother is a wee Scotswoman of about 85lbs but when she steps in front of a stove she makes even my German father's noodle and dumpling loving relatives look petite! When she was a young bride eager to please her new husband, she set out to learn his family’s traditional way of cooking and eating; keen to please and because (don't throw your haggis at me) she said the Scots didn't know how to cook! It was her willingness to learn my grandmother's and great-grandmother's recipes that I`m sure kept my dad captivated in those early years; that and her ability to dance around swords while doing the highland fling!

Soon she was creating those family recipes for her own children, my sister and I, which unbeknownst to us was forming our childhood memories. Memories like the smell of nutmeg and cloves as the Linzertorte cookies baked in the oven or peppery, paprika goulash simmering on the stove top on a wintry Sunday afternoon.

My mother is the one consistent person I call upon whenever I have a cooking question. I use her more than Google and Epicurious combined so when it came time for me to recreate some of my childhood favourite dishes for my own children, I turned to her for the recipes. Some she could provide quite easily however others were verbal recipes that were whispered to her by my dad’s mother, sister and aunts. She had adapted those whisperings to suit her new Canadian/Scots/German family life and never saw a reason to write them down. Measurements like teaspoon and tablespoon didn’t exist; it was more “add enough cinnamon until it smells right dear” quantity!

This inability to recreate my memories prompted me to sit down with my mother and have her describe and breakdown family recipes while I transcribed them into a formal format. It took us many hours and cups of tea but gave us lots of laughs as we tried to decipher exactly how big her hand was to measure a “fistful” and what does a fingernail size of garlic weigh?

The recipes I gathered are more than just a list of ingredients and instructions. They are a direct link to my past. When I cook for my own children, I do it in the hope that I create similar memories and that when they get older and think they are wiser than me, the memory of their mom’s chicken dumpling soup will pluck at their heart and bring them back home — just like my mom’s cooking does for me.

These recipes are a gift to me and my sons but more importantly they are a gift to my mother and the elder women in my family by showing them the respect and attention they deserve for creating such wonderful memories that have carried on for many generations!

My gift to you? My mom’s Chicken Dumpling Soup recipe. Enjoy!

Chicken Dumpling Soup

Chicken Broth Ingredients:

2.25L (9 cups) of cold water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 284ml can of low sodium chicken broth
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled & chopped
3 chicken legs, backs attached
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Garnish – freshly chopped Parsley and/or julienned carrot sticks

Dumpling Ingredients:

450g / 1lb ground chicken
450g / 1 lb plain breakfast sausage, casings removed (see tips)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • To make broth, place all ingredients except garnish in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through. Skim the broth occasionally to remove any fat floating on the surface (see tips). Remove the chicken legs and reserve for another use.
  • Pour the broth and remaining contents into a strainer over a large clean pot or bowl. Strain, pressing on the contents with the back of spoon to remove all liquid. Discard contents. Return broth to a clean stock pot. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if required.
  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  • While broth simmers, in a food processor, pulse to combine ground chicken, breakfast sausage and onion. Add egg, salt, pepper and chives and process until combined. Place meat mixture in large bowl. Add breadcrumbs ½ cup at a time and mix until the mixture binds together.
  • Using damp hands, shape mixture into teaspoon size dumplings and place on ungreased, parchment lined baking sheet ½ inch apart. Continue until all dumplings are formed.
  • Bake dumplings in oven until no longer pink inside, approximately 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove dumplings from oven, blot any excess fat with paper towels and drop dumplings into warm soup. Reheat soup and dumplings if necessary.
  • To serve, place 4-5 dumplings in a shallow soup bowl and ladle broth over top. Garnish with a few julienned carrots and chopped fresh parsley or chives.

Notes: The stock can be made and frozen for up to 3 months or kept in the refrigerator covered for 3 days. The dumplings can be frozen after you have baked them for up to 1 month. To reheat frozen dumplings, simply drop the frozen dumplings into warm chicken broth and heat until warmed through – about 10 minutes.

Tips: To easily remove chicken fat from top of broth, put strained soup in refrigerator overnight. When cold, the fat will rise to the top and you will easily be able to lift off the fat with a spoon. To remove sausage meat from casings; using your fingers, pinch the middle of the sausage and squeeze out the meat on either side.

Makes 8-10 Servings




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Nadine Hughes is a renaissance woman whose forte is making food fun again. Mother of two young boys, wife, serial entrepreneur, world traveler and food expert extraordinaire, Nadine is a woman who literally walks the talk. When she’s not experimenting with her kids’ palettes on fish heads and kohlrabi, Nadine frequently appears as a television and radio guest discussing food, entertaining and how family fits into it all.

To keep food on the family table, Nadine is an entrepreneur, cooking instructor, caterer and award winning cookbook author. Her first cookbook “The Groove Mamma Goes Gourmet: Easy Ways to Put the Fun Back into Entertaining” (www.groovemamma.com) was awarded The Best Canadian Entertaining Cookbook at the 2009 Gourmand Cookbook Awards. So tighten your apron strings and join Nadine as she dishes on food, family, fun and believe it or not, how they can all go together!

You can also follow Nadine on her food journey on Twitter @nadinehughes or find out more at www.thecookscompanion.ca.