Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

Cold and flu season are upon us, and sadly, Tom and I are not free from its wrath. Our Columbus Day weekend was spent on the couch with a box of tissues, fevers, sneezing, you know the drill. On Sunday night I decided to make a chicken dinner. While the chicken dinner was amazing; we had mashed potatoes and gravy, squash,  homemade cranberry sauce, and apple bacon stuffing, the real reason I roasted a chicken was so that I could make the ultimate weapon against colds. Chicken noodle soup.

Yes, this is the real deal, handmade broth and everything. It is a recipe that I came up with and have perfected over the years. It is to the point that I do not know what Tom is more excited about, roast chicken dinners or the resulting soup the next day. The one thing I can say about this recipe, is that it takes time. It is not difficult, the majority of the time is spent waiting for things to boil. Seriously though, if you want to do this, give yourself a day to do it, or at least the better part of an afternoon. I am going to write this as two separate recipes, because while it does not taste nearly as amazing, it is possible to skip the handmade broth part and just go straight to the soup part. I recommend giving handmade broth a try, but the boxes of ready made broth do work in a pinch, and no matter what you are still getting a finished product that is a thousand times better than anything you would ever get from a can.

Chicken Broth
The carcass of a roasting chicken, aka the bones, and what ever meat was left over on it
3 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 large onion
1/4 cup of salt

1. In a large stock pot, dump the remains of the chicken. Cut the celery and carrots into thirds and chuck them in too, leave the leaves on the celery. Cut the onion into quarters, paper and all, and toss that in as well. Add your salt.

2. Add enough water to cover, and then some. I use a full sized stock pot and fill it about 3/4 of the way up.

3. Put your stock pot on the stove and heat over medium high heat for between 4-6 hours. You want a rapid simmer to a boil, just check on occasion to make sure nothing is boiled over.

4. This can be messy, but run your broth through a strainer into a very large bowl, or a series of bowls and stock pots, whatever you need to do to get the job done. To avoid burns, I like to kill the heat to my stock and let it sit for a good thirty to fourty-five minutes before I even attempt this step. By this point in time, your house should smell amazing from the broth simmering all afternoon.

5. It is up to you what you do with the stuff that was strained out. Tom and I are not onion eaters, so we throw the onion away. I usually slice up the carrots and what is left of the celery and toss back into the broth. Also, go through the chicken bones to retrieve any meat for the soup.

You now have a large quantity of chicken broth. Time to make chicken noodle soup!

Chicken Noodle Soup
2 leeks
3 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1/2 stick of butter
Chicken broth made above, or 2-3 boxes of the pre-made stuff
Chicken meat retrieved from the broth making process, or two chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 Package of Kluski noodles, which can be found by the egg noodles (if you can't find them just get egg noodles)
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Slice the carrots, celery, and leeks into about 1/4 inch slices. Add them to an empty stalk pot along with the butter, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Heat over medium heat until the leeks go transparent and the whole mess gets really aromatic. This should be a slow sweat, not a saute. If your veggies are caramelizing or if the butter turns brown, your heat is too high. This process usually takes about 5-10 minutes. *Note: if you "salvaged" any of the veggies from your handmade broth, toss them directly into the broth, and use fresh veggies for this step. It will turn out awesome, I promise.

2. Pour your chicken broth (and any salvaged veggies from the broth making) into the stock pot and bring to a boil. Give it about half an hour, you are ready for the next step when the carrots start floating.

3. Add your chicken, simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Add your Kluski noodles, simmer for another 10 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat, and let everything sit for a good 15-20 minutes to cool. Salt and pepper to taste, I seriously add a couple tablespoons of pepper.

Eat and enjoy! As you can tell, this recipe makes a lot of soup. Tom and I have made a pot of chicken noodle soup last us several days, we just leave it on the stove top and keep reheating it, as the flavors condense, we add more water  and end up with more soup. If you are going to try this "bottomless" soup method, make sure you bring the soup to a full boil for a good ten minutes between servings.

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