Sunday, January 10, 2016

Chicken Noodle Soup

I am back, after an exceptionally long and entirely unplanned hiatus! The last few months have been busy and, at times, stressful, so I suppose something had to fall by the wayside. I certainly didn't stop cooking during that time, though, and I missed sharing recipes. Today's is a classic: chicken noodle soup. While I've always liked chicken noodle soup in principle, I've had a lot of bland and/or over-salted versions that left me none too enthusiastic about the dish. As usual, I had to look no further than smitten kitchen to find a recipe that did the trick. Simply browning the chicken and onions before making the stock makes all the difference in the world, and cuts the simmering time for the stock to just 20 minutes. In case you are skeptical of how big of a difference this can make (as I was), check out my stock just five minutes after dumping in the water:



Magic. After the full 20 minutes, you get a beautiful, rich brown stock:



Add in some veggies and egg noodles, and you've got yourself a nice meal. Just the thing I need while I attempt to get over the cold that has left me sounding like a wounded elephant for the past week (I think I sound almost normal today...).




Chicken Noodle Soup
Yield: 4 servings
Adapted just a bit from smitten kitchen

Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
3 lb. bone-in chicken thighs (I removed the skins and kept them for stock)
2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
3 small or 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tsp table salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, stems reserved
1 large carrot, diced1
1 medium parsnip, diced, or another carrot
1 large celery stalk, diced
3-4 oz egg noodles2

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, adding the onion once the oil shimmers. Brown without stirring for 3-4 minutes, then make little wells in the onions and add the chicken pieces, ensuring that they make contact with the pot. This can be done in batches, if necessary. Brown the chicken on both sides, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add water, bay leaf, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley stems and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate until cool enough to handle. Strain the stock and return to pot, discarding solids3.
  3. Add vegetables to the pot and simmer until firm-tender, 5-7 minutes. Add noodles and cook according to package directions (usually they give a range, and if you're planning on reheating the soup for lunches, I'd recommend cooking them al dente so they don't get too mushy in the microwave).
  4. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the soup just to warm through. The recipe does not call for all of the chicken to be used in the soup, but I wanted a hearty and sustaining soup and found the full amount to be just perfect. If you don't use all of the chicken, use it in salad or shred for tacos or sandwiches (or pick at it while you're cooking, which is what I'd have done).
  5. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!
Notes:
  1. The recipe calls for 1/3-inch dice, which is what I did, but the size doesn't much matter as long as they're uniform. If you want a chunkier soup, cut the veggies bigger and extend their cooking time a bit.
  2. The recipe calls for 3 oz of egg noodles. I thought this was too little and added an extra ounce or so, fully acknowledging to myself that they were going to absorb more broth and make a rather chunky soup. They did just that (of course), but I found the resulting soup delightful because it actually kept me full. The choice is yours!
  3. I really wanted to try to salvage the onions here, both because I love onion and because it feels so wasteful to throw them out. However, they were really mushy and sort of inextricably tied in with the garlic, parsley stems, and bay leaf, so this wasn't really possible. Do make sure you press on the solids with a spatula to get out all the broth trapped in there!


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