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Long, long ago when we lived in Minnesota, I was a young men’s leader in our ward. I took the young men backpacking in the woods nearly every month. (January was the exception; we stayed in a cabin.)
“Keep them well-fed and they’ll be happy.”
Teenage boys in the woods, especially in the winter, like a lot of food but they don’t like carrying a lot of food. A compromise was hearty soups, hearty soups with dumplings. We would pick cream soups, gravy-like soups, or chowders. It really didn’t matter as long as they were thick.
For the dumplings, I would grab a biscuit mix, make a soft biscuit dough, and drop it by spoonfuls into the simmering soup, then cover the pan to capture the steam. I would put enough biscuit dough in the pot to cover or nearly cover the soup.
Dumplings can be that simple.
You can do the same thing to make pot pies. Cut out biscuits just as you have always done and place them over the soup before putting the pan in the oven. If you like, you can use a batter that is soft enough that you can spoon the batter onto the soup.
Then into the oven it goes.
See our just-add-water biscuit mix, a jalapeño biscuit mix, and a cheddar biscuit mix.
Chicken Pot Pie with Green Beans in a Cream Sauce
This recipe makes a very good chicken pot pie. Of course, it’s going to be good with a creamy white sauce and a flaky, buttermilk biscuit topping. This is made with fresh green beans but could also be made with carrots and peas or corn and beans, whatever fresh vegetables you have available. Feel free to experiment with your spices and herbs. This recipe calls for sage, thyme, and tarragon and marvelously complements the green beans but we can’t wait to try sage and savory.
You can make your biscuit topping from scratch using this recipe or you can use one of our biscuit mixes. Of course, a biscuit mix will save you time and you can choose between Buttermilk Biscuits, Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits, and New England White Cheddar Biscuits.
1 medium onion, diced
1 stick of celery, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cream
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 teaspoons dry crushed sage
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/2 teaspoon dry tarragon
2 1/2 cups fresh green beans, snipped and sliced
salt and pepper to taste
For the topping:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
- Sauté the onion and celery in butter in a large skillet until it is tender. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Place the 1/3 cup flour in a small bowl. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring after each addition until you have a smooth paste. Continue adding the rest of the cream.
- Add the cream sauce and chicken broth and reheat, stirring frequently, until the mixture just starts to simmer and becomes thickened. Add the chicken. Add the sage, thyme, and tarragon. Salt and pepper to taste. (The salt required will vary depending on the salt content of the broth.)
- Parboil the green beans until they are bright green but not quite tender. Add the green beans to the chicken mixture. Place the chicken and bean mixture in a greased 2 1/2-quart casserole dish.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- For the topping, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry knife. Add the buttermilk. You should have a thick batter, almost dough-like. Spoon the batter over the hot chicken mixture.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is a golden brown.
Baker’s Note: Alternately, you can roll a top crust. Add enough flour to make a thicker dough and knead the dough together with your hands. Roll it flat with a rolling pin to the size and shape of your pot pie. Use the pan or the lid to the pan to trace and trim the dough. Set it on the filling. Cut several sits with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Make a biscuit or two from any trimmings and bake with the pot pie.
Southwest Beef and Dumplings Soup
I really like the dumplings in this recipe, much fancier and tastier than my common biscuits. Cornmeal, cheese, and corn kernels are worked into the dough.
This is a hearty and complete meal. The soup is made with ground beef, tomatoes, corn, garlic, and chili powder. The dumplings are made with corn meal. Corn, beef, and chili—that’s a southwestern dish.
For the soup
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups canned or frozen corn, drained
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans of beef broth
1/2 tablespoon basil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Crumble the ground beef and stir in the onion and garlic. Brown over medium heat and then drain the fat.
Add the corn, tomatoes, and beef broth. Add the spices: basil, chili powder, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
For the dumplings
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup corn meal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
1 cup drained corn
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, corn meal, baking powder, and salt together.
In another, bowl whisk the egg and milk together. Add the cheese, corn, and parsley to the egg mixture.
Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until moistened.
Drop the dough by tablespoons into simmering soup. Cover the soup with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes without lifting lid. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into a dumpling. It will come out clean if done.