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A bowl of comfort: chicken soup with dumplings

A basic 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 half pound of mixed mushrooms. And for good measure, we also add a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. For starchy comfort, we top the soup with pillowy soft dumplings. And 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.
Mushroom and Chicken Barley Soup with Parmesan Dumplings
Servings: 6
For the soup:
1 ounce dried porcini
mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
1 pound mixed sliced
mushrooms
Salt
2 medium shallots, sliced
1 leek, white part only, sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless
chicken thighs, cubed
C. pearled barley
2 tsp. minced fresh
rosemary
1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
Ground black pepper
6 C. low-sodium chicken
broth
For the dumplings:
2 C. all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. sugar
tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
tsp. ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 C. grated Parmesan
cheese
2 eggs
1 C. buttermilk
C. (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.
Nutrition information per serving: 760 calories; 310 calories from fat (41 percent of total calories); 35 g fat (16 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 72 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 40 g protein; 1260 mg sodium.

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