Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2009.
This simple, satisfying soup is all about texture. A roux is used to thicken the stock to achieve a luxurious satiny feel on the palate. And we add refinement to it by making the dumplings with pâte à choux (cream puff dough) rather than the standard biscuit dough. This is a great soup to make when you have leftover roast chicken. If you start off with a nice rich chicken stock, you can’t go wrong.
Yield: About 8 cups, serves 6-10
1 Tbsp (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped leeks
½ cup water
4 tbsp (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 large eggs
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp minced chives
4 quarts chicken stock (see recipe below)
5 stalks celery
3 large carrots
1 tsp honey
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
1 large garlic clove, crushed, skin left on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (about 4 ounces) roux (see recipe below)
2 cups cooked shredded chicken (dark or white meat)
¼ cup minced chives
1 tbsp Champagne vinegar
Flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Melt the butter in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and leeks, season with salt, and cover with a parchment lid.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove and discard the parchment lid.
Make the dumplings:
- Fill a wide deep pot with salted water and bring to a simmer. Set up a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Combine the water, butter, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the flour all at once, and stir rapidly with a stiff heatproof or wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean. The dough should be glossy and smooth but still moist; enough moisture must evaporate from the dough to allow it to absorb more fat when the eggs are added. Continue to stir for 4 to 5 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the dough from coloring; a thin coating of dough will form on the bottom and sides of the pan. When enough moisture has evaporated, steam will rise from the dough and the nutty aroma of cooked flour will be noticeable.
- Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl. Add the mustard and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and mix for a few seconds to incorporate the ingredients and release some of the heat. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first egg is completely incorporated before adding the second and incorporating it. Then add the chives and incorporate. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape the dumplings using two soup spoons to make a quenelle shape (see Note), dropping them into the simmering water. Cook the dumplings in batches of about 6 to avoid crowding the pot and allow them to cook evenly. Once the dumplings rise to the surface, it will take about 5 minutes for them to cook; remove one and break it open to make sure it is cooked. With a slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings to the baking sheet, and cook the remaining dumplings. (You will have about 18 dumplings.)
- Once the dumplings have cooled, trim any uneven edges with scissors.
Finish the soup:
- Add the chicken stock to the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, then strain the soup base into another pot and discard the vegetables.
- Peel the celery stalks with a peeler. Cut each stalk crosswise on the diagonal into thin slices about 1 ½ inches long. As you get to the wider lower part of the stalk, adjust the angle of your knife to keep the pieces relatively the same size. You need about 1½ cups celery for this recipe (reserve any extra for another use). Cook the celery in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, cool in an ice bath, and drain again.
- Cut the carrots lengthwise into quarters and then crosswise into bite-sized pieces. As each carrot widens, adjust the size of the cut to keep the pieces bite sized. You need about 1½ cups carrots for this recipe (reserve any extra for another use).
- Put the carrots in a saucepan, add the honey, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the carrots are tender but slightly resistant to the tooth. Drain and transfer to paper towels.
- Bring the soup base to a simmer and whisk in the roux a little at a time until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; you may not use all the roux. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming often—this is necessary to remove all impurities from the roux. (The soup will continue to thicken as it simmers.)
- Add the dumplings, chicken, carrots, celery, and chives to the soup and heat through. Season with the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley leaves.
To form a three-sided quenelle using two soupspoons, start by using one spoon to scoop up a portion of dough that is slightly smaller than the bowl of the spoon. Hold the second spoon in your other hand, place the side of the spoon against the far side of the dough, and scoop it onto the second spoon, forming one smooth long side. Continue transferring the dough between the spoons until you have the desired oval football shape. (With practice, this should take no more than three transfers, but it may require more when you are first getting started.) Before you begin, set up a container of hot water in which to regularly dip the spoons—this will make it easier to form the quenelles.