Chicken and Dumplings From 'Lighten Up, America!'

Chicken and Dumplings
Photograph: Hélène Dujardin

When January rolls around, I often struggle to find a compromise between my impulse to dive into plates of rich comfort food and my desire to eat more healthfully. Allison Fishman Task's chicken and dumplings from her new cookbook, Lighten Up, America!, helps to mitigate my problem. By cutting back on the butter and by carefully defatting the broth, Task transforms the traditionally rich dish into a clean-tasting meal with plenty of comfort.

Why I picked this recipe: Chicken and dumplings makes for a perfect winter meal. Preparing the dish with an eye towards healthful eating makes it even better for January.

What worked: Poaching the whole chicken in broth keeps the meat tender and moist while also helping to enrich the stock. The dumplings were a snap to stir together, and cooked up tender and fluffy.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: If you don't want to wait to chill the stock, you can defat it by running it through a fat separator in batches. Using homemade chicken stock to poach the chicken instead of store-bought is a great idea if you've got it on hand.

Reprinted with permission from Lighten Up, America! Favorite American Foods Made Guilt-Free by Allison Fishman Task. Copyright 2013. Published by Oxmoor House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

Recipe Details

Chicken and Dumplings From 'Lighten Up, America!'

Active 50 mins
Total 11 hrs 30 mins
Serves 8 servings


For the Stock:

  • 1 (4-poundwhole chicken

  • 10 cups water

  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped (about 6 ounces)

  • 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 ounces)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges (about 10 ounces)

  • 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 2 ounces)

For the Soup and Dumplings:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 1/4 cup sliced celery

  • 1 carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 6 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk

For Garnish:

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. To prepare stock, remove giblets and neck from chicken; trim excess fat. Place chicken, 10 cups water, and next 7 ingredients (through parsley bunch) in an 8-quart stock pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour, skimming foam from surface as necessary. Remove from heat; let stand 20 minutes.

  2. Remove skin from chicken; remove chicken from bones, discarding skin and bones. Shred chicken with 2 forks into bite-sized pieces. Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Cool broth and chicken to room temperature. Cover and chill broth and chicken 8 to 24 hours. Skim solidified fat from surface; discard. Reserve 8 cups of the broth and all of the chicken. Refrigerate remaining broth in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months for another use.

  3. To prepare dumplings, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 tablespoon flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in 8 cups reserved stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces flour (about 1 cup) into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring until moist.

  5. Drop dough in 24 (about 1-teaspoon) portions into broth mixture. Cover and cook 8 minutes. Gently stir in reserved shredded chicken and thyme. Simmer very low 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated and dumplings are done. Remove from heat, and ladle into shallow bowls. Sprinkle evenly with chopped parsley.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
418 Calories
21g Fat
18g Carbs
37g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 418
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 122mg 41%
Sodium 526mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 6mg 31%
Calcium 70mg 5%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 445mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)