Easier Chicken and Dumplings

1.5 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 tsp kosher salt, divided

¾ tsp black pepper, divided, plus more for garnish

1 med. yellow onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

2 large celery stalks, chopped

¼ cup all-purpose flour

6 cups water

1 tablespoon jarred chicken Better Than Bouillon

1 small bunch thyme sprigs, tied with kitchen twine, plus fresh thyme leaves for garnish

1 ½ cups self-rising flour

¾ cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Sprinkle chicken thighs evenly with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Place chicken, skin side down, in a med. Dutch oven; cook over med-high, undisturbed, until skin is browned and crisp, about 10 mins. Transfer chicken to a plate, reserving drippings in Dutch oven.
Add onion, carrots, and celery to Dutch oven. Cook over med-high, stirring often, until just softened, about 6 minutes. Add ap flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Stir in 6 cups water, stock base, and thyme sprigs. Return chicken to Dutch oven; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low, and gently boil, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers at least 165°F, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from Dutch oven (keep Dutch oven over medium-low heat), and transfer to a cutting board; let cool 5 minutes. Shred chicken, discarding skin and bones. Remove thyme from Dutch oven; compost. Return shredded chicken to Dutch oven. Stir in remaining 1 tsp salt and remaining 1/4 tsp pepper.

Stir together self-rising flour, buttermilk, and butter in a medium bowl until batter is just combined. Bring soup to a boil over medium-high. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into boiling soup. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook, undisturbed, until dumplings are cooked through, about 18 minutes. Garnish with additional pepper and thyme leaves.

Yield: 4 servings