OK...I finally managed to make a good dish! Admittedly I've been making this one for some time, but I think I finally took it to the next level. Allow me to describe what I did, and I welcome any input or questions...I think I used the right techniques but maybe someone can catch any "errors" or refinements I can make....this stuff turned out pretty darn good!
-Render about 5 pieces thick cut hardwood smoked bacon, chopped up, in large stock or soup pot. Leave fat in.
-Par-cook chicken tenderloin pieces (about 1 or 1&1/2 pounds) to sear on both sides, remove, set aside.
-Sautee about 6 cups of mire poix (equal parts carrots, celerly, onion) for about 10 minutes
-About 2 minutes before the end, add 3 cloves fresh minced garlic & sautee
-Deglaze with 2 cans chicken stock, 1 can cream of chicken, half-can of cream of tomato soup, and 8 c water
-Add approx 4 Tbsp chicken base
-Salt, pepper, thyme, 3 bay leaves
-Return chopped bacon & par-cooked chicken tenderloins (diced) to pot, bring to boil, reduce to simmer
-Simmer about 30 minutes
-Begin puffy dumpings dough:
-2 c AP flour + 6 Tbsp soft salted butter + 4 Tbsp baking powder + salt + pepper + thyme + chicken base
-Mix together with pastry knife until butter/spices incorporated
-Add 1 cup 2% milk & combine
-Let rest 20 minutes
-Use 1/2 oz spring hinged ice cream scoop to drop in dough balls, let simmer another 15 minutes
-Add cheese mixture of havarti, parmesan, romano, pepper jack, & Velveeta cheeses (total about 1&1/2 or so cups)...salt & pepper the cheese, and add pinch thyme to cheese as well
-Fish out bay leaves
Not saying I have the best recipe here, but by far it was the best my family's said they've ever had, throughout all of my "versions" of this hearty soup. I've also had neighbors ask for the recipe before after saying they really liked it. I welcome any critique....thanks!