Italian chicken soup with parmesan dumplings recipe

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This rustic northern Italian specialty features tender dumplings deeply flavored with Parmesan and served in a light chicken broth. We modernized the classic recipe a bit, making it heartier by adding fennel, carrots, and escarole. For the dumplings, we combined fresh toasted bread crumbs with some rendered chicken fat and a generous amount of grated Parmesan for great savory flavor. Egg whites gave the dumplings a lighter texture. To ensure that the dumplings remain intact during cooking, roll them until the surfaces are smooth and no cracks remain.

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Total Time: 2 Hours


  • 1½ pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional), plus 3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (1½ cups)
  • 2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • ½ small head escarole (6 ounces), trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
How to Make It
  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until deep golden brown, about 6 minutes; transfer to large plate and discard skin.
  2. Measure out and reserve 1 tablespoon fat from pot for dumplings; pour off all but 1 teaspoon remaining fat. Add fennel, onion, carrots, and ½ teaspoon salt to fat left in pot and cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until almost dry, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in broth and Parmesan rind, if using. Nestle chicken into pot, adding any accumulated juices, and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until chicken registers 175 degrees, about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Measure out 1 cup bread crumbs and transfer to parchment paper–lined rimmed baking sheet; discard remaining crumbs. Toast crumbs in oven until light brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl, reserving sheet and parchment, and let cool completely.
  5. Stir reserved 1 tablespoon fat, grated Parmesan, egg whites, lemon zest, ⅛ teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg into bread crumbs until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. Discard Parmesan rind, if using. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks; discard bones.
  7. Working with 1 teaspoon dough at a time, roll into smooth balls and place on reserved sheet (you should have about 28 dumplings). Return soup to simmer over medium-high heat, then stir in escarole and chicken. Add dumplings and cook until they float to surface and are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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