Quick "Lite" Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken & Dumplings usually takes hours. If you don’t use your grandmother’s recipe, spend half the day cooking, whack the free range chicken yourself, and leave your guests wishing they had more holes in their belts, you’re not doing it right. However, it’s 2018, and you’ve got a life to live.

Here’s a delicious and satisfying yet “lite” version of a heavy classic. A pre-cooked rotisserie chicken is an easy shortcut, and not only will I not judge you for using one, but I will wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. Also, I know you’re not going to make your own stock, so please just buy a quart. It’s ok. Kitchen Basics (yellow box) is my favorite!

Tips for picking out a rotisserie chicken: 1. Grab the heaviest one you can find - more weight means more juiciness. 2. Get a chicken that has smooth skin - if it’s loose or wrinkled, that means the bird has lost moisture. 3. Don’t get a bird with a flavoring like BBQ. Either get plain or something like lemon pepper. 4. Shop when the chickens are first put out for sale - the longer they sit in the warmer, the drier they will become. Once you get home, keep it covered and chill it ASAP, then bring it back to room temperature when you’re ready to make dinner!

Quick “Lite” Chicken & Dumplings

Serves 2-4


2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion (or 2-3 shallots), trimmed, peeled, and diced

Roughly 1 cup celery, diced (tops and bottoms trimmed and discarded)

Roughly 1 cup baby carrots, diced

1 bulb fresh fennel, diced (top fronds and bottom discarded) (optional but yummy)

1 tbsp. stoneground mustard (optional but yummy)

Fresh thyme

1 tsp. garlic powder

Zest of 1 lemon

1 quart chicken stock (I love Kitchen Basics!)

Quick “dumplings”: gnocchi, small pasta, or won ton wrappers (1-2 cups, depending on how healthy you want to be)

1 whole rotisserie chicken from the store

Salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Sauté the onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper until softened, then add in the celery, fennel, and carrots with several more pinches of salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is softened but still has texture.

  2. Stir in the stoneground mustard, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, the garlic powder, the zest of 1 lemon, and a pinch of salt. Pour in the stock, stir well, and bring your mixture up to a boil. Once it’s bubbling away, lower the heat and allow it to simmer until the vegetables are tender. Season to taste. Remove the thyme stems.

  3. When it’s time to eat, add in your dumplings. My favorite option is Italian gnocchi! Simply throw them in the pot and simmer until tender. You can also use small pasta or torn pieces of won ton/egg roll wrappers.

  4. Once the dumplings are tender and your soup is a bit thickened and seasoned to your liking, pull the meat from the chicken and stir it into your pot. When warmed through, bring it to the table! Enjoy.

Note: you can get creative with this, especially so that you’re able to use what you already have on hand at home! Try dried thyme or other herbs like dill or rosemary. If you skip the mustard, try tossing in a tablespoon of vinegar for extra zing. Fresh fennel is still largely unknown in the USA, but it’s lovely! This is the perfect dish to introduce it to your family with. It’s the ideal soup vegetable in my opinion.

Chef Madeleine Dee