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Recipes that appear in Idea Alley have not been tested by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Happy New Year, Alley Kats!

I hope your holidays were merry and bright and the New Year is treating you well.

As winter settles in, soups and stews have been making the rounds at my house. On New Year's Day, I ignored tradition and ate a bowl of Tortilla Soup adapted from this recipe sent in by Martha Jones.

It was fantastic.

"This is my best 'dump' recipe," Jones writes.

"It is a tortilla soup that a friend brought me when I had a baby. My husband (who spent a decade in Texas and has an affinity for Dean Fearing's tortilla soup), loves this soup. It has the perfect amount of kick for an adult who enjoys some spice, but not too much."

Tortilla Soup

½ onion, chopped

½ bell pepper, chopped

5 to 6 cups chicken broth

1 roasted chicken, shredded

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes

1 can pinto beans, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can creamed corn

1 package taco seasoning

1 package ranch dressing mix

½ teaspoon garlic powder

In a soup pot, saute onion and bell pepper. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve topped with whatever fixings you like. The Joneses likes shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, fresh cilantro, and for crunch those "Tortilla Strips" that are sold with the salad toppings at most grocery stores.

"This is an old family recipe," writes Steven Long.

"I use either chicken or leftover turkey for the meat. The 'dumplings' are more noodle-like (my friends call them slickies) compared to the biscuit-type dumplings. I typically double or triple the recipe when making them because all of my family want to take home leftovers.

"The dumplings will absorb broth and continue to tenderize as they sit after cooking. I like to cook them and let them set for an hour before serving. They are even better the second day, but additional water/broth may need to be added when reheating."

Vera's Chicken and Dumplings

1 large fryer chicken or 4 chicken breasts

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 cans chicken broth

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 pound carrots, sliced

4 to 5 ribs celery, sliced

1 medium onion, diced

For the dumplings:

2 cups flour, plus more for dusting

Salt

3 tablespoons shortening

½ cup (or slightly more) ice water

Ground black pepper and garlic powder to taste

Place chicken and the bouillon cubes in a large pot with enough water to cover the chicken, and boil until tender. (Skim and discard the foam from the broth as the chicken cooks.) Remove chicken, cool (debone if necessary), and cut into pieces. Set the chicken aside. Add the canned chicken broth, soup and the vegetables to the pot, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, prepare the dumplings.

Combine flour and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Using fingers or a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Slowly add the ice water and mix lightly until the mixture holds together — the dough will be stiff. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to form a ball. Roll the dough out as thinly as possible (1/8 inch thick or less). The dough will be very stiff. Cut the dough into about 1-inch squares, and drop the squares into the boiling broth making sure they do not stick together — stir frequently. (A pancake flipper is a good way to scoop the dumplings off the counter.)

Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Cover the pot and cook the dumplings at a low boil until tender — about 25 minutes. Add the cut-up chicken during the last few minutes to reheat it. Add water or additional chicken broth so that the dumplings do not stick together while cooking.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Send recipe contributions, requests and culinary questions to Kelly Brant, Idea Alley, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203; email:

kbrant@arkansasonline.com

Please include a daytime phone number.

Food on 01/08/2020

Print Headline: 2 hot concoctions to keep Kats warm

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