Irish Comfort Soup w/Irish Soda Bread Dumplings

When I ate the Guinness Beef Stew at the Irish Pub, I tried to think of how I could possibly put my own spin on such a perfectly comforting meal.  They explained that they took half Guinness and half beef broth, then added the rough cut vegetables and slow cooked it.  I began to think….how about a simple chicken soup using a little more chicken broth…but a little less than half white wine?  GENIUS!  Also, I was loving the brown soda bread that the pub gave me on the side with that perfectly, slightly soft, Irish butter that has a distinctly healthier taste than the butter that we have here.  I thought, how can I make Irish soda bread fun?

Irish comfort Soup
Irish comfort Soup

Why not make them into tiny dumplings that you could put right in the soup (almost a southern twist) or on the side with butter and jam.  As I began sizzling all of my organic vegetables and chicken in my large skillet, I preheated my oven and started my soda bread station.  I combined all of those ingredients until it was a malleable dough, put some spray oil in my cookie scoop (refer to my new Product Description of the cookie scoop) and began scooping them out on parchment paper.  Even though they come out the same size…the more rustic looking they came out of the scoop…the better.  The top of them looked a little like a rushing river…and that is exactly what I was after to make these exciting little bites.  They are hearty, so they would need butter if you have them on the side, or you can put them right in the soup.  Before I placed the soda bread bites in the oven, I scored the top gently with a knife, and painted the tops with an egg yolk wash.  It glazed them with a golden color as they baked.  Once the soup was ready, I ladled it into a white bowl and placed the dumplings on top.  I reach for an Asian spoon for the soup, because of the wide surface area and it gives you the best chance for a perfect sip and bite every time.  I took my first spoonful and the wine gave it a completely different level of flavor than a regular chicken soup.  It was elegant, warming, comforting and surprising and I loved every moment of it.  The dumplings are robust and dense, so make them small.  I also made larger dumplings to put on the side with some currant jam and Irish butter.  It was a fantastically hearty feast and it all came from a modest bowl.

Serves 2

1 organic chicken breast (cubed seasoned w/salt and pepper)

1 medium potato (diced w/skin)

3 purple fingerling potatoes (optional/diced)

6 cremini mushrooms (sliced)

1 medium carrot (diced)

1 rib celery (diced)

1 organic onion (diced)

3 cloves garlic (minced)

2 1/2 cups white wine

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup arugula

Salt & pepper

2 tbsp butter

Sizzle the butter at the bottom of the skillet.  Add potatoes, chicken and onions and brown them.  Once slightly brown, add mushrooms, garlic, celery and stir for a few minutes.  Add the white wine and chicken broth and add salt and pepper for seasoning.

Let everything come to a boil for 10 minutes, then let it simmer for 15 minutes or more with the lid on the pot. Add the arugula at the end, so that it keeps it’s color and gently wilts in the soup bowl at the time of serving the soup.

Irish Soda Bread Dumplings

2 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups (shake well) buttermilk

4 tbsp butter

1 egg yolk

1 tsp buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the dry ingredients together and remove any lumps.  Melt the butter.  Mix with a mixer or your hands until the dough holds together (1 minute).

Take your cookie scoop, oil the inside of the scoop, and start scooping the dough into little balls.  Put them on a parchment lined cooking sheet.  Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.  Put a toothpick in and if it comes out clean, it is ready.

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