For Delicious Texture In Chicken And Dumplings Soup, Start With A Thin Broth

Chicken and dumplings: Some think of this dish as soup, some maybe as a stew or chowder, and still others put it into a separate category of its own. Opinions are subjective, but there are a few universal truths to this dish. It is hearty, rich, thick, and filling. There is no daintiness or lightness to a pot of chicken and dumplings, which may make the headline here seem a bit counterintuitive. Believe it or not though, to achieve a harmonious and balanced — but still full of oomph — chicken and dumplings, keep your broth thin.

It's helpful to keep in mind what chicken and dumplings is, other than a dish that's hard to refer to in the singular. Essentially, it's savory chicken soup, full of chunks of rich meat, herbs, and diced vegetables, in which soda-risen dumplings are quasi boiled and steamed. (Important to note here, in various parts of the country, dumplings can refer to either fluffy biscuit-adjacent orbs or thick noodles; for the sake of this article, we're referring to the former.)

The biscuit dumplings are added after the soup is at a good simmer, dropped from above in loving spoonfuls that rest on top of the broth to rise as they steam. A thin broth helps generate more steam, which is critical to proper dumpling formation. A broth that is thick with roux, cornstarch, or cream will be much less active and generate less steam, leading to dumplings that are doughy and wan.

Dumplings do double-duty

A thin broth is important for more than one reason, though. The dumplings don't sit on top in pure isolation from the chicken soup below. Rather, they interact with it, each lending properties to one another. The steaming broth gives the dumplings a wonderfully sticky exterior that most find oddly satisfying, even if it is akin to wet bread. The dumplings, in turn, exude starch and fat into the soup, thickening it just enough so that there is a bit of a bridge between each element.

That said, if you want to make your chicken and dumplings thicker or richer, there are some avenues to explore, but you want to wait until after the dumplings have finished cooking to give them a go. Roux would be the obvious choice given the dumplings are already giving the soup flour and fat. This will require making a roux in a separate pan on the side, removing the dumplings to a bowl and adding the roux, all the while stirring to distribute it. Less labor intensive, would be adding heavy cream and letting the chicken and dumplings reduce a bit. You won't have to remove the dumplings, but they will likely get a douse of cream on the outside. Is that such a bad thing, though?