This hearty vegan chicken and dumplings stew is the ultimate comfort food. With chewy soy curl "chicken," plump potato dumplings and nutritious veggies, it's a lighter, healthier alternative to an old-time favorite.
Like my gnocchi soup, velvety beet soup, and chili, this vegan (and vegetarian) chicken stew recipe is naturally low in fat and calories, oil free, dairy free, with only minimally processed ingredients.
And the dairy free, gluten-free potato dumplings help pack in even more veggies, while minimizing the amount of flour in the recipe.
What I love about this chicken, veggie and potato dumpling stew
When the weather is cold and rainy (or snowy), there's nothing quite as satisfying as a hot, nourishing bowl of stew. And how can you go wrong when that bowl is as full of nourishing ingredients as this thick chicken-veggie soup?
Add in some easy drop dumplings, and you've got a meal that's going to stick with you.
I can imagine this kid-friendly recipe becoming a family favorite, too, as you can barely tell it's vegan/vegetarian. It's chock full of all those comforting 'chickeny' flavors we love--without the actual meat.
'Chicken' Stew Ingredients
- Dried soy curls - soaked in broth to rehydrate.
- Vegetable broth - or vegan chicken broth of bouillon
- Fresh thyme - or dried
- Poultry seasoning
- Ground turmeric - optional, to enhance yellow color.
- Bay leaf
- Apple cider vinegar
- Oat flour - to thicken the stew.
- Fresh parsley - optional, for garnish.
Potato Dumpling Ingredients
- Russet potato
- Oat flour
- Plant milk - plain, unsweetened.
- Onion powder
Follow these photos and instructions to help make it great, every time. Please also see the full recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Step 1. Soak the soy curls in broth. Set aside.
Step 2. To make the dumpling mixture, grate the potato.
Step 3. Then, add the potato, flour and plant milk to a mixing bowl.
Step 3 (continued). Stir to combine into a paste. Set aside.
Step 4. Use 1 cup of broth and flour (or cornstarch) to make a 'slurry' by shaking it in a container.
Step 5. To make the stew, sauté veggies in a wide pot or skillet. When soft, stir in herbs and spices. Cook together for a minute.
Step 6. Add the broth and the slurry to the veggies in the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Step 7. Use spoons to form loose dumplings and drop them into the stew, placing them evenly around the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes to fully cook the dumplings.
Step 8. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the soy curls and peas.
- Baby your dumplings. After gently dropping them in the stew, simmer--don't boil--and keep them covered in liquid. The liquid level in the stew will reduce and thicken as it cooks, so I like to flip the dumplings over once they start to become solid, and spoon broth over the top to keep them moist. This also helps make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Decide how soft/firm you like your soy curls. Soy curls can range from firm and chewy to very soft, depending on how long you cook them. In this recipe, I like them a little chewy so they differ in texture from he soft dumplings--which takes about 10 minutes. But you could add them at the same time as the dumplings for a softer 'chicken' bite.
- Mind the broth thickness. This is a stew rather than a soup, so the broth should be fairly thick. The instructions call for cooking this dish uncovered to reduce and help thicken it, and the dumplings and soy curls will also absorb liquid as they cook (and while stored in the fridge.) But, if you notice you don't seem to have enough liquid toward the end of cooking, add some more broth and slurry to the pot and cook a bit longer, if necessary. I also like to add extra broth/slurry when storing leftovers, as I know this stew will continue to thicken in the fridge.
Substitutions and variations
This recipe is amazing as is, but you can easily customize it to your liking.
- Soy curls. If you're not a fan of soy curls, you could substitute another vegan chicken product (seitan/vital wheat gluten, for example). Or use about 2 cups of chickpeas or jackfruit in water (not canned--it tastes too briney) for a soy free recipe.
- Oat flour. To thicken the stew, you can use half as much cornstarch, or sub the thickener of your choice. In the dumplings, I tried both whole wheat flour (it was too bitter) and almond flour (it didn't absorb the plant milk well), so I can't recommend a substitute at this point. A mix of oat flour and almond flour will work, as long as you use enough oat flour to achieve a thick enough, paste-like texture.
- Veggies. There are so many veggies you could add or substitute in this recipe. Cauliflower, kale, or browned mushrooms would be delicious here.
- Dumplings. You could make all flour and plant milk dumplings without potato, if desired. The dumplings in this recipe are dense and filling. But if you prefer a lighter dumpling, you could add a little baking powder--though I haven't tried this, as I like a dense dumpling! Or, you could skip them completely and add potatoes or gnocchi for a simpler recipe.
- Vegan chicken and dumpling soup. If you prefer a creamier, thinner soup rather than a thick stew, add one more cup of broth + one cup of plant milk (at the end of cooking.)
What to serve with chicken and dumplings
One of the best parts of this recipe is that it's a complete dinner or substantial lunch just as it is. I like to serve it with a side salad with some dark leafy greens--or just add cooked kale right into the stew, which is fantastic.
A lot of recipes call for making a roux out of butter and flour. But vegan butter is made of oil, which is not healthy. So here, we simply shake oat flour and broth together to make a lump-free thickener. And the stew naturally reduces and thickens as it simmers uncovered. That said, while cooking, you can add more flour (or cornstarch) to the broth by removing a ladle full, whisking in the flour (or shaking in a container to avoid lumps) and adding it back to the pot.
To get the dumplings right, don't overwork the dough, or your dumplings may become tough. Also, this recipe produces a hefty, denser dumpling, which I really like. But if you prefer a lighter dumpling, you could use some baking power to encourage the dumpling to rise. I have not tried this yet, FYI.
Soy curls are minimally processed, whole soy food. They have no oil or other added ingredients. They're perfectly acceptable in a whole food, plant-based diet.
Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Note, you may need to add extra broth/slurry to leftovers, as the soy curls and dumplings soak up liquid. I haven't yet frozen this recipe--we finish all the leftovers! But potatoes don't tend to freeze well. So I'd recommend freezing the stew, but making fresh dumplings.
Happy, whole food plant-based cooking, y'all!
More whole food, plant-based soup & stew recipes
Vegan Chicken and Dumplings
For the stew
- 3 ounces Butler soy curls broken into 2" pieces, about 1.5 cups
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves trimmed, peeled and minced
- 3-4 carrots peeled and cut into 1" pieces, about 2 cups
- 2 celery stalks diced, about 1 cup
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed
- 4.5 cups low sodium vegetable broth divided into 3 ½ cups and 1 cup
- 2 tablespoon oat flour or sub 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or sub 1 teaspoon dried
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric optional, for yellow color
- 1 bay leaf
- pink Himalayan salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Optional: fresh parsley leaves for garnish
For the potato dumplings
- 1 large russet baking potato grated, about 1 heaping cup, packed
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1 cup plain unsweetened plant milk
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
Rehydrate the soy curls
- Add the soy curls to a medium sized bowl, and cover in 2 cups of room temperature broth. Let rest for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside. RESERVE THE EXCESS BROTH to use in the stew, if desired.
Make the dumpling mixture
- Add the flour, grated potato and milk to a medium mixing bowl, and stir well to combine. Add a little more flour if it's too thin, or a little more plant milk if it's too thick. Set aside. (Note: the mixture should look like a thick paste after it rests.)
Make the stew
- Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic to a large, deep skillet or a wide pot (with a cover). Sauté the vegetables in a little water over medium heat until soft and the onion is translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, make a slurry. Add 2 tablespoons of oat flour (or 1 tablespoon of cornstarch) to a small plastic food storage container or glass jar with a lid. Pour the 1 cup of broth into the container, put the lid on tight, and shake well until the flour completely dissolves into the broth. See notes.
- When the vegetables are soft, add the poultry seasoning, thyme, turmeric (if using), and stir to combine.
- Add the broth and the slurry, the apple cider vinegar and the bay leaf to the pot, and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Once the stew is simmering on low heat, add the dumplings. Use a large (serving size) spoon to form the dumplings. (You'll make about 8 dumplings, dropping them into the stew one at a time, directly off the spoon.) For each dumpling, scoop up about ⅛th of the mixture in a large spoon, and use a second spoon to help form it into a loose ball. Then, gently drop the dumpling into the pot by sliding it off the spoon with the help of the second spoon. Repeat until you've used up all of the mixture, placing the dumplings evenly around the pot without overcrowding, allowing them room to cook in the broth. Note: the dumplings will be a little loose and irregular in shape, but they'll firm up while they cook. (See pics in the article above for guidance.)
- Allow the dumplings to simmer in the stew on low heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes. From time to time, gently move the dumplings around and turn them over, to make sure they don't stick to the bottom the pan and cook evenly. Spoon a little of the broth over the top of the dumplings as they cook to keep the tops moist, if needed.
- In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the soy curls and the peas. (See notes about soy curl firmness.)
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves, and serve.