Saturday, October 3, 2009

Feeding the Soul - Chicken Noodle Soup

So, it's been a strange couple of weeks, and yesterday I think I walked my feet off at the Tulsa State Fair. But the cooler weather is dropping in, and that means soup weather. There are thin soups, thick soups, weird soups, and old comfort food soups. Chicken Noodle Soup always makes us feel better, whether you believe it helps your body or just your mind. (Science tells that it actually helps us reduce mucus generation so we aren't as stuffed up, Gramma says it's just good for you. And frankly, anything that reminds us of the love Gramma has--can't be bad.)

Also, I make this by the truckload, and freeze it. So, here are my quantities. Also, the first list of ingredients is more geared toward the fact that I just need to look out the door to fine next Sunday's chicken dinner! (Ok, last weekend, all the chickens got processed, but you get the idea). Also, it takes a while, but it is so worth it.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Stage 1
1 Chicken, rinsed (especially if you buy this at the grocery store)
Water to cover
3 Carrots, scrubbed
3 Ribs Celery, including tops, scrubbed
1 Onion

Stage 2
2 - 3 Carrots, scrubbed, and sliced in about 1/4" slices
2 - 3 ribs of Celery, scrubbed, sliced in about 1/4" slices
however many cloves of garlic your family can stand, minced
1 16oz package of egg noodles (I use thin, OR make my own pasta)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place chicken in a large pot. Cover with water. Rough chop the carrots and celery into about 3 pieces each. Quarter onion. (NO peeling necessary). Toss vegetables in with chicken.
2. Bring to a boil, put lit on pot. Allow to simmer for at least 2 hours. This is where your stock comes from, don't skimp on it. I usually like to leave it about 3 hours. By this time the chicken should just about be falling off the bones. Carefully remove chicken from the stock, and put on a plate; allow to cool.
3. Strain stock. That is sometimes harder than it sounds. Place a colander over another large pot, and carefully pour the stock and veggies thru the colander, so you save your stock, but remove the veggies. Pick out any chicken that actually DID fall of the bones. The veggies are compost heap fodder at this point, but that's ok.
4. It can take between 30 minutes to an hour for the chicken to cool enough to handle. When it is, strip the chicken clean, discarding skin, connective tissue and bones. You should be left with a mound of chicken. Rough chop it if you wish.
5. Slice carrots, celery, mince onion. Put chicken and veggies into the freshly made chicken stock. Check seasoning, add a little salt and pepper to taste.
6. Bring to a boil and add noodles. Simmer until noodles are cooked, and serve. I like to put a little dollup of sour cream or shave a little cheese over each bowl.
7. Watch the smiles light up everyone's faces.

Short Cut Chicken Soup
But, but, I don't have TIME to cook all day............ok, yeah I hear ya. You know you can make a huge amount any day you are home, right? Complete everything up to and including step 4, then add chicken to broth, and freeze. Remove from freezer and thaw in refrigerator. Then finish as above.

But the real shortcut:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked
3 carrots, sliced 1/4"
3 celery ribs, sliced 1/4"
1 16oz package egg noodles
salt and pepper to taste
1 quart chicken broth, or water

1. Cut up chicken breast.
2. Put everything EXCEPT noodles in pan. Adjust salt and pepper. Keep in mind, if you are using store-bought broth then you will probably have enough salt in there already.
3. Bring to a boil, add noodles, cook 10 minutes or until noodles are done. Serve.

Change up the veggies in Stage 2. Add potatoes instead of noodles.

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