This month I've been volunteering.
I volunteer regularly anyway. I volunteer at the School Canteen, the Dance School and the School fundraising committee.
But this month, I want to help someone who is out of mind, out of sight. A single Mum I know who struggles with depression and has two high school kids. An elderly man who lives nearby whose wife passed away last year.
I have my Comfort Baskets ready to be delivered to these folk today, but wanted to add something to them for tonights dinner. I filled the Comfort Baskets with home made treats such as Heat Wheats filled with barley and lavender, hand knitted scarves knitted on huge needles so they take no time at all, Lemon Ginger Chilli Barley Water, Lemon Ginger Honey, Home Made Hand Cream, Home Made Lip Balm, and some of my Feel Better Bath Soak.
So here's my Chickenless Chicken and Dumpling soup. It's tasty, warming and costs next to nix to make. Have a couple of sealable containers, such as large jars or flasks, ready to transport your soup.
1 litre chicken stock, home made, from a carton, or by dissolving 4 chicken stock cubes in a litre of water
Bouquet Garni .... this is simply a square of muslin or cloth into which you've tied a number of herbs. I suggest whole peppercorns, dried rosemary and garlic. You want the flavour, but not the herbs themselves, floating in the broth
1 cup SR flour
3 tablespoons butter or equivalent, cut into little cubes
1/3 cup milk
1 egg for nutritional value if you'd like, but this is optional
Pour the stock or water and stock cubes, into a large saucepan that has a firm fitting lid.
Add the Bouquet Garni, and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer on very low for about fifteen minutes to allow the herbs to infuse the stock.
Meanwhile, add the flour and salt to a small bowl, and rub the butter through with your fingertips, until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the milk and the egg if using it. If you decide to add the egg, you can use less milk, perhaps just a tablespoon or two. You need the dumpling dough to look a bit like scone dough before it's rolled out, but a bit softer and stickier.
Remove the Bouquet Garni from your broth, and drop teaspoonsful of dumpling dough into the simmering liquid. Leave some room for them to expand. Cover the pan with the lid and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes. Lift the lid and you'll see you have some fluffy dumplings now covering the surface of your broth. Flip them all over to ensure they're well cooked on both sides and cover again. Leave for a minute or two.
Remove the dumplings and pour the broth into waiting containers. Add several dumplings to each and deliver with a smile.
You'll feel as good as your lucky recipients...I promise!