Thursday, October 25, 2012

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

There is nothing more comforting than snuggling up with a warm bowl of soup on a cold rainy fall day.  Oh sure, anyone can pop the top off a can of soup, nuke it for a few minutes and you are good to go.  But... what if I told you, a big, yummy pot of homemade soup was not only extra delicious, but not really that hard to make?  After I got my Big Blue Mama a few years back I decided it was time to try making my own chicken noodle soup from scratch.  I know, I know, it sounds like a slippery slope.  Make your own soup and soon after you might be doing other pioneery things like fishing in the creek, threshing wheat by hand, and hanging the wash out on the line... But seriously, take a few simple ingredients and some left over rotisserie chicken, and an hour or so later you will have a hearty home cooked meal.

We have tried a couple of recipes over the last year, and most of them claim you can have them ready in thirty minutes.  The veggies (in my opinion) are still a little tough this way.  I give them a little extra time to simmer, soak up some flavor, and get kid friendly and tender. 

Homemade chicken soup is the bomb diggity!

Okay, now onto the ingredients.  You will need (full printable recipe at the end):

1/2 to 1 full stick of butter
2-3 carrots chopped up small
2-3 celery stalks chopped up small
1 onion chopped fine
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 cups of chopped left over rotisserie chicken
8-12 cups of chicken stock
8-12 oz of dried pasta
2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Take the stick of butter and throw it into your pot.  Turn heat on to slightly above medium.

If you freak out about butter then just use half a stick.  If you believe in Paula Dean chuck the whole thing in
Next, chop up your carrots, celery and onions on the small side.  You want to make these small so they can get tender faster.  Toss them into your melting butter.

The French call these three veggies Mirepoix (pronounced "mira-qua") Throw it in to everyday conversation to sound smarter!
Simmer these veggies lightly in the butter for five minutes, until they cook down a bit.

After 5 minutes, add the 4 cloves of minced garlic and stir.  You can also add the parsley, thyme, 2 bay leaves, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

You can not eat bay leaves, we will fish them out at the end.  But they do add great flavor!
After about 10-15 minutes you can now add the chicken stock.  You can make your own or you can use a box of stock.  I used Rachel Ray's chicken soup stock.  There are 4 cups in each box.  I used two boxes for 8 cups total.

I always keep a third box on hand, just in case the noodles expand too much. A little extra stock can help bring the soup back to a balanced broth/noodle consistency.  If you do not have enough homemade stock, you can do half yours and half Rachel's, like I did here.  You want to bring the temperature back up to a boil (my big blue mama took about 20 minutes at least to heat all the way back up).  We are going to cook the noodles in the boiling soup.

By this time, your veggies are getting a little softer, so you can add in your chopped up rotisserie chicken.  I usually take the meat off the bird while it is still warm after dinner the night before, and store in a container until I want to use the extra meat.  I make a little assembly line from storage container, to plate. I chop the meat up into bite sized pieces, and a second plate for skin or other undesirables.

I usually do this the same time I chop up the veggies, before I start cooking
While the soup is coming up to a boil, you can add in your chicken pieces

Stir gently and wait for the soup to come back up to a boil.  You do not want a super hard boil here, more like a strong simmer to cook the noodles in.  Pour in your dry noodles

We use bow tie pasta because we have girls.  We call this princes bow soup.  They love it!
Next, let the soup cook the noodles.  The amount of noodles really depends on you. Currently we are more of a 70% noodle to 30% broth kind of family right now.  If you like more broth, add less noodles.  I tend to get over zealous anyway and pour too many in.  After they expand, most of my stock will seem to disappear.  If (when) this happens, that's when I pull out my reserve 4 cups of chicken stock to add to the pot.  There is no such thing as too much chicken soup.  It freezes well and makes great left overs for the week.

Isn't the princess bow tie pasta adorable?
Oh yes one important step you don't want to miss.  Please fish out the bay leaves at this time.

They have done their duty adding mountains of flavor.  Discard at will.
We have made this soup a few times, and found the smaller sized pasta (as shown above) seems to work a little better.  Here is the same soup with full sized bow ties:

If you love glorious pasta then try it with the larger bow ties!
You actually have to "cut" the noodles with your spoon while you are eating your soup.  This action reminds me of wonton soup.  After your pasta is soft, add more chicken stock if you need it, then check your spice levels.  Add a bit more dried or fresh parsley, salt and pepper if it needs it.  This whole process should take around an hour.  You can put the soup on low if need be and it can sit for an extra 1/2 hour and it won't be much worse for wear.  The larger noodles will get a bit more floppy, but those small mini bow ties hold up pretty good.

This was our big noodle soup, with less broth

Here is our small princess bow tie soup

The absolute best thing to serve with homemade soup is some toasted artisan bread or a buttery, crusty loaf of french bread.  This recipe is a pretty simple version of the soup.  You can add your own herbs and spices and make it to your family's tastes.  Also, like I said before, if you have leftovers they make great lunches the next day, or save in the fridge all week and have some when you get the craving.  Soup will indeed freeze (I thought the noodles would be destroyed), but it thawed and reheated just fine.  So go out there, impressed yourself and  your loved ones with a big bowl of homemade soup... and stay warm and cozy this month.

Full Printable recipe found here

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