"I should call this Mom's Leftover Chicken or Turkey Soup, because although it's a good way to use up what's left from a roast chicken, it's also perfect for the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas when there is leftover turkey to be dealt with. These flavors — celery, butternut squash, leek, thyme — are so classic and familiar, but the best part is how easy this soup is to make. Simply combine all the ingredients in a stockpot and simmer until the squash is fork-tender."
- 1 large leek
- 1 ½ to 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
- 2 large celery stalks, diced
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 oregano sprig
- 2 bay leaves
- A few handfuls of shredded cooked chicken or turkey (use however much you have)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 cup canola oil, for frying
To clean the leek, lop off the dark green end and put it in the compost heap. Cut the leek in half lengthwise almost to the root and wash under running water, fanning the layers open to help remove any grit. Shake the leek free of water and slice crosswise.
Combine the leeks, butternut squash, celery, onion, thyme, oregano and bay leaves in a large stockpot. Add the chicken and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Pour in the broth, water and wine, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, 15-20 minutes. Remove the herb springs and bay leaves. Taste the soup and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve.
You can take one extra step if you choose: "Because my mom's family is from Jamaica, we love adding dumplings to everything, including this soup. You can add fried dumplings or you can make simple boiled dumplings.
Here's how: When the soup is simmering, mix 1 cup all-purpose flour with ⅓ cup water to form a dough. Roll the dough into little balls with the palms of your hands, then drop them into the soup during the last 5 minutes or so. You'll have about 24 dumplings. Make 'em or leave 'em out — it's totally up to you!"
For the fried dumplings (makes 12): In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the cold butter and use your fingers or a fork to cut the butter into the flour until a crumbly mixture forms. Stir in the water and mix with your hands until the dumpling dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add another 2 to 3 teaspoons water and continue mixing. Pinch off pieces of dough roughly the size of small golf balls and flatten them into discs. You should get about 12 disks.
In a large, cast-iron skillet, heat the oil. Line a plate with paper towels and have a slotted spoon handy. To test if the oil is hot enough, put the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and see if bubbles form around it. (The ideal oil temperature is 350°F, feel free to check it with a deep-fry thermometer.) In batches, fry the dumplings until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on the paper towel-lined plate.