Let's talk about the other factor in this recipe - the pantry.
I am not going to give you a list. While it would be amusing, I doubt if it would be of much use unless you cook the exact same things as I do. Which I am betting you don't - at least not every single item. I have basics - oil, flour, sugar, salt, pepper -things like that. I have the exotic - like lime pickles and sesame oil. And I do have a few items that I bought on impulse - like Lyle's Golden Syrup. (Strictly for my pecan tassie recipe -yum yum!) But your pantry will come to reflect what recipes you make on a regular basis.
One such item for me is canned tomatoes. I have several types in the cabinet at any one time. I keep an eye out for types that I use on sale. My favorite brand right now is Dei Fratelli. Why? They are raised and canned here in Ohio. A chance to "eat local" out of my cupboard all year long. Plus I like the quality. If they sucked - I don't care how local they are, I would not use them.
What can you do with canned tomatoes? Cream of tomato soup, chili, pasta dishes, "salsa", veggie soup, stewed tomatoes - hell that is just off the top of my head. I am sure you can think of at least a half dozen more.
Something I don't have in my cupboard? Canned green beans. Can't stand mushy bland beans. I use frozen instead.As you develop your recipe repertoire, your pantry will adjust accordingly. The pantry I had in college - IE peanut butter, grape jelly, Wonder bread and ramen noodles is a far cry from what I have today. I still have ramen for the quick dinner - but I've dumped the pb&j and added capers, curry powder and whole wheat bread. Maybe in five years, you won't see a caper in sight.
Everything I used in the recipe below was either a pantry staple or something I had purchased as a loss leader. I do not normally buy roasting chickens - but they were on sale at an earlier time and I bought a couple for the freezer. We had roast chicken with rice pilaf and green beans Sunday night. Now I was stuck with half a chicken. Hmmm - what to do?
I always make stock with the carcass. Period. It's a free bonus. Don't have time to keep an eye on a simmering pot? Get out a 6 qt crock. It works great.
That leaves the leftover meat - It could mean a casserole, a soup, chicken salad - it's a blank palate ready to go.
So why did I make Chicken and Dumplings?
Here is the answer you were waiting on with baited breath - I splurged when I did the Bostini cakes. I bought cake flour. I never have cake flour in the house. I rarely ever bake cakes - from a mix or scratch. And I just couldn't stand the thought of the rest of the Swan's Down going to waste. So I pulled out the dumplings. (True - you can use All Purpose, but the dumplings just aren't as tender or light. And screw Bisquick. Nasty.)
All pantry baby!
The thing is, the base recipe is really similar to a couple other soups I do:
Potato soup - leave out the chicken and dumplings.Keep the herbs to a minimum. Add about 3 pounds of potatoes cut in 1 to 1.5 inch cubes. Cook until all veggies are tender. Add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream at the end of cooking and "smash" the potatoes a little bit to release their starch.
Chicken and Noodle Soup - just throw in noodles (preferably homemade) cook until noodles are tender. Put the precooked chicken in the bottom of the bowls and pour soup over it.Having a pantry and a standing repertoire of dishes means you are ready to go no matter what the occasion. It's that lil black dress you always wanted and were afraid you would get too fat to fit into...so what are you waiting for!? Get cracking!