- Associated Press - Thursday, October 11, 2012

Abasic chicken soup is fine for when you need warmth and comfort.

But what about those particularly blustery fall evenings when fine isn’t sufficient? For those evenings, we have created this more robust take on the basic chicken soup, a version that oozes even more comfort and warmth thanks to the starches and savory ingredients.

First, the latter. We amplify the savory side of this soup by sauteing a pound of mixed mushrooms. Then for good measure, we also add a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. For starchy comfort, we top the soup with pillowy soft dumplings. To tie it all together, we lace the dumplings with savory Parmesan cheese.

Want to make it vegetarian? Just substitute vegetable broth and leave out the chicken.


Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

For the soup:

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

1 pound mixed sliced mushrooms


2 medium shallots, sliced

1 leek, white part only, sliced

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed

1/2 cup pearled barley

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Ground black pepper

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

For the dumplings:

21/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

11/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine the porcini mushrooms with 1 cup of boiling water. Set aside.

In a large deep pot, such as a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the mixed mushrooms and sprinkle lightly with salt. Saute until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the shallots and the leeks and continue to cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook just until browned; it does not need to cook through. Add the barley, rosemary, thyme, a few grinds of black pepper, the broth and the porcinis with the soaking water. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer until the barley is tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Stir in the Parmesan. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk, then the melted butter. Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined.

Drop the dumpling mixture by the tablespoon onto the top of the soup. Cover, bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

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