Something "lighter" today ...

Yesterday I failed on the making something light front and as lunch today was some more fish pie ... waste not want not and all that ... i needed to have something reasonably healthy and not as heavy in texture today ...

As I seemed to be doing so well on the theme of cooking recipes from some of my food heroes recently ... why break the habit ... so this time it has to be Thomas Keller ... owner of the French Laundry in Napa Valley, I've never been there unfortunately but I have spent hours salivating over the recipes in some of his many books. I don't dare to try to replicate one of the masterpieces from the French Laundry cookbook (at the moment) so I have taken his "ad hoc at home" cookbook and looked for the lightest recipe I could find ... I also wanted to work on some techniques ... quenelles, roux thickening, stock making ... so I decided on a chicken soup with dumplings ... by a *** Michelin chef ... hmmmm ....

This is a very tasty soup but it does take a fair amount of effort ... worth it if you have the time ... there will be a different (that I prefer) chicken soup recipe coming from my old pal Ottolenghi!

To Buy book ... click on photos to go to my amazon link

The Recipe ... 

Chicken Soup with dumplings

The Book ...

Ad hoc at home (published by Artisan) by Thomas Keller

Chicken Soup with Dumplings



1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced chives

Soup Base

1 tablespoon (0.5 ounce) of unsalted butter

1 cup of thinly sliced carrots

1 cup of coarsely chopped celery

1 cup of coarsely chopped onion

1 cup of coarsely chopped leeks

Kosher salt



Chicken Soup & Finish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) Roux (below)

2 cups cooked shredded chicken (dark and/or white meat)

1/4 cup minced chives

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)

Flat-leaf parsley leaves

About 4 litres (just under) Chicken Stock

5 stalks of celery

3 large carrots

1 teaspoon honey

1 bay leaf

2 thyme sprigs

1 large garlic clove, crushed (skin on)


Chicken Soup TK - ingredients.jpg

What to do ...

The Soup Base

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and leeks, season with salt.
  3. Cover with a parchment lid (
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Remove and discard the parchment lid.

The Dumplings

  1. Fill a wide deep pot with salted water and bring to a simmer. Set up a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Combine the water, butter, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the flour all at once, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean. The dough should be glossy and smooth, but still a little wet, enough moisture must evaporate from the dough to allow it to absorb more fat when the eggs are added.
  3. Continue to stir for 4 to 5 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the dough from coloring; a thin coating of dough will form on the bottom and sides of the pan. When enough moisture has evaporated, steam will rise from the dough and the nutty aroma of cooked flour will be noticeable.
  4. Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl. Add the mustard and the remaining teaspoon of salt and mix for a few seconds to incorporate the ingredients and release some of the heat. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first egg is completely incorporated before adding the second and incorporating it. Then add the chives and incorporate. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape the dumplings using two soupspoons to make a quenelle shape (see below), dropping them into the simmering water. Cook the dumplings in batches of about 6 to avoid crowding the pot and allow them to cook evenly.
  6. Once the dumplings rise to the surface, it will take about 5 minutes for them to cook; remove one and break it open to make sure it is cooked. With a slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings to the baking sheet, and cook the remaining dumplings. (You will have about 18 dumplings/I got 16!)
  7. Once the dumplings have cooled, trim any uneven bits off.

Soup Finishing ...

  1. Add the chicken stock to the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. 
  2. Strain the soup base into another pot and discard the vegetables.
  3. Peel the celery stalks with a peeler (make sure to do this as it gives it a nice finish).
  4. Cut each stalk crosswise on the diagonal into thin slices about 1 1/2 inches long. As you get to the wider lower part of the stalk, adjust the angle of your knife to keep the pieces relatively the same size. You need about 1 1/2 cups celery for this recipe
  5. Cook the celery in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender.
  6. Drain, cool in an ice bath or under cold water, and drain again. Put aside on kitchen paper
  7. Cut the carrots lengthwise into quarters and then crosswise into bite-sized pieces. As each carrot widens, adjust the size of the cut to keep the pieces bite sized. You need about 1 1/2 cups carrots for this recipe.
  8. Put the carrots in a saucepan, add the honey, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cover with cold water.
  9. Bring to a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the carrots are tender but slightly resistant to the tooth. Drain and transfer to paper towels.
  10. Bring the soup base to a simmer and whisk in the roux a little at a time until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; you may not use all the roux (i did). Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming the white foam often—this is necessary to remove all impurities from the roux. (The soup will continue to thicken as it simmers.)
  11. Add the dumplings, chicken, carrots, celery, and chives to the soup and heat through. Season with the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley leaves.
  13. Eat and Enjoy!

You ever wanted to Quenelle ... you know you have ...

All this takes is practise ... I remember my first time ... he wasn't gentle ... nor patient ... A certain Luxembourgish individual ... one half of the Chubby Chefs ... his initials are ... Michel Donckel ... :) (we were making salt cod croquettes and mine were not pretty ...) -

He taught me well ...  eventually !!!! 

  1. What you want to do here is form a three-sided quenelle using two spoons (try use an oval shaped spoon rather than a round soup spoon)
  2. Take one spoon and scoop up a portion of dough that is a little smaller than the spoon.
  3. Hold the second spoon in your other hand, place the side of the spoon against the far side of the dough, and scoop it onto the second spoon, forming one long smooth side.
  4. Keep moving the dough between the spoons until you have that desired oval rugby ball shape. (With practice, this should take you about three movements between spoons, but if you are like me on my first attempt ... it may take  you more ... be grateful you don't have Michel getting frustrated with you !!!.) 
  5. Helpful tip ... have a bowl of warm water beside you ... where you can dip the spoons frequently ... this will make it easier to shape the quenelles.

Making a Roux (Makes 2/3 cup)

You will need ... 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter & 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

This is the most traditional of French methods for thickening soups or sauces ... made by cooking equal parts of butter and flour.

HINT for a smooth sauce, add room-temperature or cold roux to a simmering liquid, or add cold liquid to a hot roux, to prevent the roux from firming up.

  1. Put the butter in a small skillet or saucepan and set it over medium heat.
  2. When it is almost melted, whisk in the flour and cook,
  3. Continue whisking constantly and adjust the heat as necessary so the roux bubbles but does not brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or other container to cool.