Skinny Chicken and Dumplings

A few years ago I made Pioneer Woman’s Chicken and Dumplings.  I’d never had dumplings and curiosity finally got the best of me.  I made her recipe and LOVED them.  I could have eaten bowl after bowl after bowl.  A-MAZ-ING!!!!

Of course, I didn’t make them last winter while I was in the height of my weight loss challenge.  My diet was strict and the mention of heavy cream, butter and oil turned me away.  I also didn’t feel confident in my ability to adapt a recipe from “full-fat” to light and healthy.

I will say that with a bit of trial and error and experimentation my confidence is up.  I have a much better concept of what you can omit and what can be substituted without compromising the integrity and taste of the dish.

Yesterday turned into a NASTY, bitterly cold day with snow showing up once it got dark.  I had been thinking about chicken and dumplings for a few days.  I wanted them.  I NEEDED them, but after WEEKS of ridiculous holiday over indulgence I didn’t want to compromise my diet any further.

I pulled out the recipe, made a few tweaks and turned a 525 calorie/serving soup into a 274 calorie/serving soup!!!!

DSC_0059 copyYep!  I cut the calorie count in HALF.  Friends, it IS possible to have that soul soothing comfort food we all crave WITHOUT the guilt.  It CAN be healthy.  You just have to be smart about it.

Skinny Chicken and Dumplings

2 1/2 TBSP olive oil

3 to 4 LARGE boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 20 oz. cooked weight)

salt and pepper

1 cup finely diced carrots

1 cup finely diced celery

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

1 teaspoon ground thyme

9 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup heavy cream

3 TBSP cornstarch

1/4 cup water


1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup 2% milk

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Lightly coat chicken breasts with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil, season liberally with salt and pepper.  Bake until breasts are completely cooked through, approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the breasts.  Let cool and dice.  Set aside.

In a LARGE dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat saute carrots, onions and celery in remaining 2 TBSP of olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add salt and ground thyme.  Saute for a few more minutes letting the thyme become fragrant.  Add chicken broth and diced chicken.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes.

In the last 10 minutes make the dumpling dough.  Sift together flour, cornmeal and baking powder.  Add the milk and stir gently to combine.  Set aside for a few minutes.

Add the heavy cream to the soup.  Before adding the dough, mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water.  Pour into the simmering soup and let it thicken slightly.  When the soup has thickened drop SMALL spoonfuls of the dumpling dough into the broth.  Your spoonfuls may seem small but they will double, if not triple, in size when they’re done.

DumplingsThis is what they’ll look like in the pot.  They will fill the surface area of the pot, hence the reason for a LARGE pot.  Mine was COMPLETELY full of dumplings.  Once you’ve dropped all the dumplings in, loosely cover the pot and let simmer for an additional 15 minutes.  Halfway through this simmering time gently turn the dumplings over so that they cook evenly through and evenly soak up the chicken broth goodness.  Let the soup sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman Chicken and Dumplings

The skinny: 1 cup serving (with 2 – 3 dumplings) is 274 calories, 29g carbs, 10g fat, 15g protein, 386mg sodium and 4g sugars.

This is such a delicious and soothing meal.  My kids LOVED it.  My husband loved it.  His only complaint, as with ANY soup, is that it was too “soupy”.  He’s a thick and hearty kind of guy.  If his spoon can’t stand up straight in it then it isn’t thick enough.  With that in mind, I would think you could easily add more veggies, lentils, barley, rice, split peas, etc…  Any number of things could turn this soup into a thick and hearty stew and not compromise the healthy factor.  Just make sure it has enough broth on the surface to adequately cook the dumplings.

I hope you and your family enjoy this as much as we do!!!

Peace, love and DUMPLINGS!!!!


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