Chicken & Dumplings is one of those classic, stick-to-your-ribs meals that’s considered a comfort food by many. Of course, being a vegetarian, chicken was not an option. That pretty much left a watery broth and a few carrots, onions, and celery.
So I set out to make a hearty vegetarian dumpling soup with flavor and heft. It took a number of tries with a variety of ingredients, but I finally created what I was looking for.
I, also, experimented with the dumpling size. While the larger ones were appealing to look at and faster to spoon out, I found it was messy business to cut into them while eating. I kept reducing the size until I got to less than 1″ in diameter raw – they plump up during the boiling process. Making them bite sized is perfect so you can eat them whole.
TOFU & DUMPLINGS – makes about 18 cups
- 4 tsp vegetable oil
- 3 cups (about 2) onions, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 10½ oz carrots, sliced
- 1 lb white common mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tsp dried dill
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3½ tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 cup dry Sherry
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 8 cups water
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
- 3 T arrowroot
- 1 egg white
- 4 T butter
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 8¾ oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp sugar
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium/high heat. Add in onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté 7 minutes, stirring often. Add in mushrooms and continue to cook another 4 minutes, scraping fond on bottom of pan (the browned bits). Add dill, tomato paste, garlic, and 2½ tsp of the salt – cook 3 more minutes. Pour in the Sherry and continue to cook until evaporated, scraping any fond formed. Add the water, tofu, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and parsley. Bring almost to a simmer. In a small bowl, make a slurry by combining the arrowroot with 1/4 cup of the soup. Stir slurry into soup until it thickens a bit – should take a few minutes. Taste for seasoning – adjust, if needed. Keep heating the soup to bring to full boil.As soup is heating up, make the dumplings. Heat the butter and let cool a bit. Then combine melted butter with the buttermilk – it will get clumpy. Whisk the egg white a little, then whisk it into the buttermilk mixture. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and 1 tsp remaining salt. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and combine. Form small dough lumps – 1″ or less. There will probably be about 62. (These will plump up with cooking.) Make sure you form all these balls before you begin dropping them in the soup so they cook at the same rate.When soup has come to a full boil, one by one drop in the dough balls. Wrap a towel around the pot lid and cover. (MAKE SURE THE TOWEL DOESN’T DROP ANYWHERE NEAR THE BURNER! YOU DON’T WANT A FIRE!!!) The towel will absorb steam moisture so the dumplings don’t get soggy. Decrease flame to medium and cook 11 minutes. Remove lid and allow steam to escape a few minutes before serving.