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Chicken Soup with Bread and
Vegetable Dumplings



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Chicken Soup with Bread and
Vegetable Dumplings

(Soupe aux Caillettes, Façon Nicole Conte)

Parisian Home Cooking:
Conversations, Recipes, and
Tips from the Cooks and
Food Merchants of Paris

by Michael Roberts, 1999, William Morrow and Co., Inc.

“ ‘Everyone’s asked me to prepare caillettes for supper tonight after the cinema, Michael, can you stay with me this afternoon? I don’t feel like being une
prisonière in the kitchen.’ I’d heard about Nic’s caillettes from other friends,
and whenever they were mentioned, Nicole’s face became small, helpless as a suffering saint. I was intrigued to eavesdrop in the kitchen, for that’s how I
felt, while she prepared them. Although she sets about preparing this soup as
if celebrating a secret rite, caillettes are not, I found, difficult to prepare. The
trick is leaving the bread soaking in water to completely soften the stale crusts. When I got to Nic’s, she was deep in so much stale bread that she had moved
from the kitchen to the dining table. This dish becomes different meals over
the course of a couple of days and in the Conte family when you make cail=
lettes, you make a lot. However, here’s a more manageable recipe.”

6 ounces stale baguette, broken up
1/4 pound bacon, finely chopped, optional
1/2 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 small leek, white part only, finely
chopped and well washed
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 small head lettuce, chopped
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram leaves
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
One 3-pound boiling hen
2 1/2 quarts water

1. Place the bread in a mixing bowl large enough to allow it to triple in volume. Add warm water to cover. Soak the bread for 30 minutes or
until soft. As the bread absorbs the water, you may need to add more
so that the water always covers the bread. Drain and wring out the
water. Place the bread in a mixing bowl and tear up any large pieces.
2. Meanwhile, combine the bacon, onion, garlic, leek and celery in a skillet
or pot and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until soft but not brown,
about 7 minutes. Add the lettuce, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper,
and the marjoram and cook until the lettuce is wilted, another minute or
two. Remove from the heat, pour the contents of the skillet into the
bread and sprinkle with the flour. Mix the contents of the bowl together.
Add the egg and use your hands to mix, squeezing everything together.
Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
3. Rinse the chicken, place in a large soup pot, and cover with the water.
Add the remaining salt and pepper, cover and bring to a boil over high
heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, skimming the sur-
face frequently, for 30 minutes or until the chicken is done.
4. Meanwhile, form the bread mixture into golf ball-sized dumplings. Carefully drop dumplings into the pot, cover, and simmer for 20
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings to a large bowl or soup tureen. Remove the chicken, set aside to cool, cover, and place in the refrigerator for another meal. Pour the soup into the tureen and serve.

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