Chicken and ducklings

I have a certain in-law who, since childhood, has enjoyed eating “chicken and ducklings,” a dish perhaps better known as chicken and dumplings.  Being vegetarian, my version of this dish contains neither chicken nor ducklings, but it’s packed with tons of flavor, protein, and other goodness to warm you from the inside out.

As you’ll see, the recipe is just a starting point.  You could make the dumplings and add them to just about any broth-y vegetable soup, and it would be delicious.  Last night, Matthew made our Country Vegetable Soup using dumplings instead of pasta.

Chicken and duckling soup
Recipe by Melissa

1 c. orange lentils*
4-5 c. water
6c. veggie broth (can subs. water and extra spices)
bay leaf
thyme, marjoram, oregano, cumin (season to taste)
olive oil
1-2 c. onion and/or leeks
1 bulb garlic
2-4 stalks of celery
2 c. carrots or sweet potatoes or butternut squash
3-4 c. cabbage (it will cook down!)
optional other veggies — see directions for ideas
1 recipe Bean Flour Ducklings Dumplings (recipe below)

Place lentils and bay leaf in large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.  You may need to check back and add more water or broth as they cook.

Chop your veggies.  The ingredient list is just a starting point.  You can add or subtract veggies as you wish.  Green beans, potatoes, frozen corn, and/or frozen peas work well here, too.

If you haven’t already made the dumpling batter, make it now.

Saute onion/leeks and celery in olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for an additional minute.  Add herbs and spices to the mix.

Check on lentils.  When they are starting to fall apart, add the sauteed mix, along with the other chopped veggies**, and more water or stock to the lentil pot.  Bring back to a boil, and then lower to a simmer.  If using water or no-sodium broth, you will need to add salt.  Start with 1 t. and add more to taste.

Once all veggies are in the pot, drop in dumpling batter by the spoonful.  You will need enough extra broth in the pot for the dumplings.  If your pot is too full, you can cook the dumplings in a separate pot of broth.  Cover pot and cook dumplings for 15 minutes.

Serve, let cool a bit so you don’t burn your mouth, and enjoy!

*Split and hulled, these tiny lentils break down very quickly and will dissolve, creating a thick, rich base for the soup.
**For ideal veggie cookage, start by adding the veggies that take longer to cook, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.  Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, then add tender veggies, like cabbage and green beans.  Many frozen veggies can be added right at the end of cooking, and they’ll help cool the soup for eating.

Retrospective menu

I fell off the cooking wagon for a couple of weeks, but I got back in the swing of things last Thursday night with — hmm, now I can’t quite remember.  Ah, right, lentil sloppy joes.  And I roasted some broccoli and cauliflower for a side dish — delicious fresh out of the oven, but not so great as leftovers.

I opened a jar of our canned tomatoes for the sloppy joes.  I saved some of the tomatoes and used them to make County Vegetable Soup with Pasta on Friday night.  This recipe comes pretty close to what I made — the main difference is that my recipe calls for pesto as a garnish.  Also, I used whole wheat shells for the pasta, which I cooked separately and added to the bowls when serving to keep them from getting mushy.

I love sitting down to dinner and doing a tally of all the garden and local produce in the meal.  The soup was a great one for this: the leeks, carrots, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, and basil for the pesto came from our garden, and the cabbage was locally grown (we didn’t have much luck growing cabbage this fall).  This is a wonderful soup — really hearty and flavorful — perfect for these frigid days.

On Saturday night, I found my cheesy side with a baked macaroni and cheese dish (recipe from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes, our go-to cookbook).  On the side, a serving of steamed, grated beets with butter and salt, as well as a small roasted beet salad.

I finished my cooking spree with Swiss Chard risotto on Sunday night.  Instead of arborio rice, I used oat groats.  Instead of the normal time-intensive risotto procedure of adding small amounts of broth at a time while stirring almost continuously for an hour, I added the liquid in two installments and simmered it with minimal stirring.  The oat groats produced a creamy, hearty risotto, which I paired with roasted root vegetables (garden potatoes and beets, plus local sweet potatoes).  Risotto recipe coming soon, once I get it out of my head and into the computer — which I hope occurs before I forget what I did 😉