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Passatelli - Italian Chicken Soup with dumplings

4-6 servings
Prep info
30 min prep + 70 min cook broth & prep dumplings + 20 min finish
Prep time
Not set
Cook time
2 hours
Time required
2 hours
Oven preheat


  • 4 chicken thighs (5- to 7-oz, bone-in, trimmed)
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t vegetable oil
  • 2 sliced celery ribs (1/2" pieces)
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 2 chopped carrots (3/4" pieces)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 8.5 c chicken broth (divided: ½ cup + 8 cups)
  • 1 parmesan cheese rind
  • 1/2 t celery seed
  • 3 oz shredded parmesan cheese (1 cup)
  • 2 oz white bread
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 t lemon zest
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg



1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate. Discard skin.

2. Drain off all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot and reserve 1 tablespoon fat for dumplings.

3. Return pot to medium heat. Add celery ribs, onion, carrots, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

4. Add lemon juice and ½ cup broth and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until almost dry, about 2 minutes.

5. Return chicken to pot; add remainder of broth, Parmesan rind, and celery seed and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is tender and registers 175F, about 30 minutes.

6. Transfer chicken to plate. Discard Parmesan rind. Cover broth and remove from heat. When cool enough to handle, use 2 forks to shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Discard bones.


7. While broth simmers, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F.

8. Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Measure out 1 cup bread crumbs and transfer to parchment paper–lined rimmed baking sheet (discard remainder).

9. Toast until light brown, about 5 minutes.

10. Transfer to medium bowl, reserving sheet and parchment, and let bread crumbs cool completely.

11. Pulse shredded Parmesan in now-empty food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses.

12. Transfer Parmesan to bowl with cooled bread crumbs and add reserved 1 tablespoon fat, egg whites, lemon zest, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Mix until thoroughly combined.

13. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.

14. Working with 1 teaspoon dough at a time, roll into smooth balls and place on parchment-lined sheet (you should have about 28 dumplings).


15. Return broth to simmer over medium-high heat.

16. Add chicken and return to simmer.

17. Add dumplings and cook, adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer, until dumplings float to surface and are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

18. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

TO MAKE AHEAD: Prepare recipe through step 14. Refrigerate broth, shredded chicken, and dumplings separately for up to 24 hours. To serve, proceed with steps 15-18 as directed.



SJ Note 25 Sep 2016: This was tasty, but boy was it a lot of work. We can't quite figure out why, so maybe it'll go faster next time. We put half in the freezer: we made the broth and shredded the chicken and made all the dumplings. The chicken went in the broth and into the freezer like that, but the dumplings were frozen separately. We'll see how it works out. The celery seed is good; use that. Needs more salt and pepper, so I've upped it here in step 3.

Notes from source:

Passatelli—dumplings served in a light chicken broth—mainly comprise bread crumbs, egg, and Parmesan cheese. In our recipe, egg whites keep the texture light and airy and bind the bread-and-cheese dumplings. Chicken fat adds richness. To eliminate the need for a special tool, we shaped the dumplings into balls before poaching them in doctored store-bought chicken broth.

Use the large holes of a box grater to shred the Parmesan. To ensure that the dumplings remain intact during cooking, roll them until the surfaces are smooth and no cracks remain.

Adjusting the Dumpling

Our Italian-style dumplings combine the nutty Parmesan taste of traditional passatelli with the shape of matzo balls and their secret weapon for savory flavor.

PASSATELLI: In Italy, a dough made of bread crumbs, Parmesan, egg, and beef marrow is extruded through a special tool.

MATZO BALLS: Matzo balls are formed by hand out of matzo meal, egg, and chicken fat.

OUR HYBRID: Instead of hard-to-get beef marrow, we add extra cheese and chicken fat to boost savory flavor and hand-roll the dough into plump balls.