Happy National Soup Month! I don’t get this excited about food holidays again until the fall when pumpkin dominates over everything. It’s the perfect month for soup to be the center of attention because it’s the coldest by all accounts. February might have it beat by a few degrees but I certainly hope not considering we’re coming out of single and negative digits for the first week of January. It also doesn’t help that we’re in the middle of cold and flu season, something that everyone seems to be fighting at one time or another. Me? It’s the sinuses. I’m constantly battling sinus pressure in the winter and some days I lose. That’s when you need a giant bowl of classic chicken noodle soup.
I have four soup recipes for the month that will be shared on Mondays starting with this classic dish. I don’t know what it is about homemade chicken noodle soup but it feeds the body and soul. Maybe it’s the vegetables, or maybe it’s that the broth is made from scratch providing the body with a heavy dose of good nutrients. All I know is that nothing beats a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup when you’re feeling your worst. My Noni made chicken noodle soup for me growing up and she still does. I didn’t start making it from scratch until recently because I always thought it was so hard to make. It’s not though. It’s actually pretty easy, but it takes some time if you want to make it traditionally.
There are a lot of shortcuts to making chicken soup. Use store-bought chicken stock or broth and leftover cooked chicken. After all, these are the two elements that take the most time during the process. When you make stock from scratch, you’re extracting all the best stuff out of the chicken and it’s a pretty sustainable meal because you’re using every part of what you buy. To make the broth, all it takes is boiling the chicken (bone-in) and vegetables in water for an hour. The water will extract the best parts of the ingredients to make a rich broth that becomes the base for your soup. Use the dark meat for the soup and the white meat for something else later in the week like this easy Chicken Pot Pie recipe. Cut it up or shred it and the rest of the soup cooks up in under an hour. Easy, right?! A classic chicken noodle might take a hot minute to finish but it doesn’t take much work.
So put on a pair of sweats, turn on Netflix and get a pot of water on the stove. You’re making Chicken Noodle Soup tonight and you’re going to love it.
Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients for the Stock:
1 Whole Chicken, cut into individual pieces*
2 large Carrots, left whole
3 Celery Stalks, left whole
1 Onion, quartered
4 Garlic Cloves, whole
1 Leek, halved (white and light green parts only)
1 small bunch each of Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp. Peppercorns, your choice
Ingredients for the Soup:
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Carrots, diced
2 Celery Stalks, diced
1 Onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
2 Parsnips, diced
2 Potatoes, diced
4-6 cups Chicken Stock
1 Rosemary Sprig
A few sprigs of Thyme
2-3 cups Chicken, shredded or cut into chunks
1 lb. Egg Noodles, cooked**
1 - Prepare the chicken stock. Cover all of the ingredients for the stock with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least one hour.
2 - Remove the chicken and set on a plate. Strain the stock into a large bowl, or another pot, and discard the remaining ingredients.
3 - Prepare the soup. Place the pot back on the stove and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until softened. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, a minute or two. Add the parsnips and potatoes to the pot. Give a good stir and let cook about 5-8 minutes just to get the rawness out of the vegetables.
4 - Add 4-6 cups of the stock to the pot with the rosemary and thyme (use less stock if you want a chuckier soup, more stock if you prefer a looser soup). Bring to a boil and let simmer 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are all tender.
5 - While the soup cooks, debone the chicken. Reserve the white meat for another meal and start to shred the dark meat. Remove any bone, skin oe tendon and use two forks to shred the meat.
6 - When the vegetables are tender, add the chicken and let cook another five minutes to warm through. Place a scoop or two of the egg noodles into each bowl and top with ladles of chicken soup. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.
* If you’re squeamish like me and don’t care for cutting up your own chicken, ask the butcher to do it for you or buy the whole, cut-up chicken in the meat section.
** Cook the egg noodles just under al dente so they don’t get mushy in the soup. Serve separately so that they don’t break down from cooking too long with the rest of the soup.