By Kaillie Humphries, as told to Valerie Howes

As an elite athlete, Kaillie Humphries—two-time World and Olympic champion in bobsleigh—has to watch every bite she eats. It’s important to consume the perfect balance of proteins, carbs and fats for peak physical performance. Every so often, however, this Calgarian indulges in her favourite meal: a bowl of her grandmother’s chicken-and-dumpling soup. Sometimes, what the body needs most is a little nourishment for the soul.

Kaillie Humprhies

Kaillie Humphries (Photo Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee)
Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee

My favourite childhood dish is definitely my grandmother’s chicken-and-dumpling soup. It tastes similar to chicken noodle soup, only instead of noodles, it has these big, doughy dumplings floating in every bowlful. Although curry powder is not traditionally used in German cooking (my grandmother’s family immigrated to Alberta from Germany not long before she was born), just a pinch is added to the dumplings, which warms up the soup even more. It has generous chunks of browned chicken breasts, along with celery and carrots, in a rich-tasting broth. My dad does his own version with sweet parsnips added. Any way it’s made, this soup is very comforting.

I was my grandmother’s first granddaughter, and very close to her, so I love that this soup recipe can make me feel close to her again. After my little sisters were born, she became my babysitter, and we spent a lot of time together. She was a hairdresser and worked out of her basement—I spent countless hours down there with her as a child, playing with all her hairdressing stuff. She also had a piano and taught me to bang out some songs.

When I was about 12, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and she passed away in 2006. We never did cook together, so it was my mother who eventually passed on the recipe to my sisters and me.

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I crave chicken-and-dumpling soup when I get sick—or just homesick and in need of a little love. During the World Cup here in Calgary, I’d been away training for a while and had been missing home, so my mum made me this soup and drove it down to where I was staying. It was perfect. During race time, you don’t want to be feeling down, mentally or physically.

Strictly speaking, this soup is not a part of my diet as an athlete. I usually add way more chicken and veggies than the recipe calls for to make up for the dumpling carb-load. I don’t tend to eat it with anything else, such as bread, but you don’t need to; it’s pure soul food on its own. I probably eat it about five times a year. It’s my feel-good soup!

Anne’s Chicken-and-Dumpling Soup, Courtesy of Kaillie Humphries, Calgary

From the kitchen of Olympic athlete Kaillie Humphries, this chicken soup delivers a dose of comfort when you need a pick-me-up.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients
Soup
8 cups (2 L) chicken stock or turkey stock (approx.)
1 or 2 ribs celery, diced
1 or 2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 or 2 parsnips, peeled and diced (optional)
1 onion, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) cooked chicken or turkey (approx.), diced
salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings
8 eggs, well beaten
½ cup (125 mL) flour (approx.)
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) curry powder

Directions
Soup
1. In large stock pot, add stock, celery, carrot, parsnip and onion; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; add chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste; add chicken stock to taste. Reduce heat to low; simmer.

Dumplings
1. While soup is simmering, mix together eggs, flour, salt, curry powder and ¼ cup (60 mL) water until mixture is thick paste like Play-Doh. Add more water, flour or egg as necessary until right consistency.
2. Increase heat to high; bring soup to rapid boil. Drop dumpling mixture by 1 tbsp (15 mL) into soup. If first few dumplings dissolve into little bits, they need more flour. Drop in remaining dumpling mixture by 1 tbsp (15 mL). Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

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