Chicken Soup With Dumplings, Split Peas & Butternut Squash

Expectations:

You may have noticed I cook a lot of chicken.  Especially whole chicken.  Do I like chicken?  Yes…and it’s a neutral protein that everyone in the family agrees on.  Turning each chicken into at least 3 meals, more if you include the chicken stock, is a bonus! This recipe is a variation of soup my mother makes  — I’ve streamlined the process a bit by using leftover chicken and typically I use whatever fresh vegetables I have on hand along with the split peas.

This particular version, with the split peas, dumplings and butternut squash, has become a favorite.

Time: The split peas take a while to soften, if using this will take about 35  – 45 minutes.  If you omit the split peas, this soup can come together within 30 minutes (once the butternut squash is tender).

Serves: 6 to 8.  This feeds my family of 4 people (2 adults and 2 young kids) 2 or 3 times.  Note my youngest loves soup but she’s a toddler and my son eats the veggies minus the broth – so this would make 2 meals for 4 committed soup-eaters that enjoy 1+ cups of soup at each sitting.

Kid modifications:  If your kids are not into soup yet (my oldest is not) then it’s easy to skim the vegetables (and dumplings) out with a slotted spoon and serve them without any liquid (if needed use a clean napkin or cloth to dab excess broth).  And of course not touching anything else.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion (diced small).
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups (about half of a large) butternut squash.  Cut into small (1/2 inch) pieces.
  • 8 cups of chicken stock or broth.
  • 1 cup of split peas (rinsed in cold water & checked for cleanliness).
  • About 1 – 2 tsp. of kosher salt (or to taste)
  • Optional:  Ground black pepper – 1/2 to 1 tsp. (or to taste).
  • Optional:  2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped into small pieces or minced.
  • Optional:  1 tablespoon of peeled and grated turmeric root.
  • Optional: 1 bayleaf.
  • Optional: To Make Dumplings, combine the following dry ingredients in a small bowl using a whisk:  1 cup of all purpose flour, 2 tablespoons of granulated or demerara sugar, 1/2 tsp. of allspice and 1 tsp. kosher salt.  Then stir in about 1/4 cup of cold water (or more as needed to form a sticky dough).  Shape the dough into two-inch balls using a tablespoon or your hands.
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of cooked chicken per person.  I typically make this a comforting main dish soup for my husband and I, the kids eat the chicken and veggies separately, with a hummus quesadilla or a left over grain (i.e. barley or cous cous).  I also make this as a veggie soup sometimes without added chicken.
  • Optional:  Dash of hot sauce for the grown ups (after the kids have been served).
Sliced butternut squash and onion.
Sliced butternut squash and onion.

Steps to Put This On Your Table:

  1. In a large stockpot, over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for about 3 or 4 minutes until it’s softened slightly and a bit more translucent.
  2. Add the butternut squash pieces and sauté them along with the onions for another minute, add the garlic (if using).
  3. Add the chicken stock, split peas, bayleaf and turmeric (if using) to the pot,  increase the heat to high to bring everything to a boil for about a minute or two.
  4. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot and simmer for about 35 – 45 minutes (until the split peas are tender).
  5. If using, now’s the time to make the dumplings and then add the dumpling dough to the simmering soup.
  6. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the salt, pepper and chicken (if using) to the hot soup.  If your children like chicken inside of the soup, great.  If not (like mine) I skim the warmed chicken out of the soup with a slotted spoon and serve it to them separately.    Could I warm up the chicken separately in a pan?  Yes… but I am seriously anti dishes and this means one less thing to clean at the end of the process.
  7. Discard the bayleaf (if you used one) and serve.  For the grownups, if you like spice (we do) then I will add a dash of hot sauce to bowls for my husband and I.

Enjoy!  Please let me know what you think.  If you’re not on the mailing list yet and would like to receive a weekly-ish email with updates from MHN, please let me know.

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