Serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a hearty supper with a good chunk of DeGustibus Meisterbrot on the side
6 chicken drumsticks, preferably free-range, organic
2 leeks, white parts only, washed and finely sliced
4 sticks of celery, washed, peeled and finely sliced
4 carrots, finely diced
2 large onions, finely diced
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
500ml rich chicken stock
Chopped parsley to serve
200g self-raising flour
100g Parmesan, finely grated
1 tablespoon lovage leaves, coarsely chopped
Few grinds of black pepper
Light olive oil or sunflower oil for frying.
Put all of the soup ingredients except for the chicken stock in a large pan and cover with water. Bring slowly to the boil, skimming off any foam and scum as it warms. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.
While the soup is cooking, make the dumplings. Use a steamer lined with baking parchment.
Mix all the dumpling ingredients together in a large bowl. Slowly add cold water to the mix, a little at a time until you have a thick dough. Shape the dough into walnut-sized pieces. In batches of around 6 at a time, cook the dumplings with plenty of space between them for 12-14 minutes until they have roughly doubled in size. Remove and allow to cool.
After an hour, strain the soup in a colander over a fresh pan and return to the hob. Keep the chicken and vegetables separate and allow to cool. Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
When the chicken and vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove the bay leaves and thyme and discard. Remove the skin from the chicken and discard, then shred the meat from the bones. Add the meat to the soup. It’s up to you at this point whether you wish to add some or all of the vegetables back in as well. They will be very soft, but I quite like the comforting texture. Alternatively, you can add some fresh greens at this point and cook in the broth just before serving. Keep the soup warm on the hob.
To serve, in a saucepan, heat around 3cm of oil over a medium heat until it’s shimmering. Again, in batches, fry the dumplings until golden in colour, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep warm in the oven if necessary. Serve the soup with a few dumplings on the top and the freshly chopped parsley.