This week is cold. Superman’s breath cold. Edmund Fitzgerald wreckage at the bottom of Lake Superior cold. It’s the kind of cold that makes you swear that old soccer knee injury is squeaking like a rusty wheel. The kind of cold that you cannot escape from… unless you attack it from within.
Chicken noodle soup is great at beating the cold and fending off colds. According to The New York Times, it does the following:
- Slows the movement of neutrophils (cells that defend against infection), which help reduce the chance for upper respiratory infections
- Affects air flow and mucus in the nasal passages much more effectively than hot water
- Improves the function of little hair particles in your nose that protect against outside contagions
More importantly, chicken noodle soup is warm, filling, and delicious. I make mine without onions, because I’m not a terrible person (and I’m allergic). You can improvise your onion dosage at your own risk.
Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1 whole organic chicken
- 9 medium carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
- 5 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups egg noodles
- 8 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
- 8 cups homemade chicken broth (see #1 below)
- Let’s make the broth. It’s easy. I save all of the bones and other parts from rotisserie chickens I buy at the store or beer can chickens I make at home. I toss those into a slow cooker with clippings from carrots, celery, and garlic, along with a few peppercorns and a bay leaf. I usually put two chicken carcasses in the slow cooker, packing the veggie trimmings around them. I fill the slow cooker with water and a splash of red wine vinegar, which helps bring out delicious collagen from the bones. Cook for 12-hours (overnight), then strain the broth through a colander *and* cheese cloth. If you absolutely have to, use water with this recipe, but I think beginning with a homemade broth adds another dimension of flavor that’s worth the extra effort.
- Brown your garlic, carrots, and celery. Cook them with high heat in your soup pot until they are brown–about a minute. Remove them.
- Cook the chicken. Pour your homemade broth into the pot. Put the chicken in the broth, breast-side down. Simmer it for 45 minutes to an hour. You want the chicken meat cooked, but still tender. Drain the broth through a colander (no cheese cloth this time) into a separate container. Then return the broth to your empty pot. Set your chicken to the side for just a moment. (note: add a cup or two of water if your broth boils down too far while cooking the chicken)
- Cook your garlic, carrots, and celery. Add your veggies with a little salt and pepper to the pot. Cook them until they’re soft. You don’t want mush, but you don’t want al dente either. This will take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of your veggies and the heat of your broth.
- Pick apart your chicken. Chop the attractive dark and white meat into spoon-friendly pieces. Feed the rest to your pets. You’ll have a lot of meat, so keep only the pretty cuts. Discard the skin, bones, sinew, beak, giblets… anything you’re not going to use.
- Finish your soup. Add your chopped meat to the broth, along with 3/4 of your parsley and the egg noodle. It doesn’t matter which noodle shape you choose, but don’t add too many noodles if you want normal-looking leftovers. Pasta will continue to suck up broth in the fridge. Salt and pepper your soup to taste. Simmer until the pasta is finished, about 8 to 10 minutes. Distribute to bowls making sure you get equal portions. Sprinkle a little of your parsley reserves on top. Serve hot.
- Pour wine. Drink wine. According to the minds at Food & Wine, drink a medium-bodied white like a pinot blanc or unoaked chardonnay. Or go for a light-bodied red like a pinot noir. If you’re a beer drinker, try a malty and refreshing amber ale.
If you need more proof that this soup is delicious — check out my extremely picky toddler Rylie. She threw her spoon to the side and demanded a straw. Rylie drank two of those bowls of broth that night and another the next day.
Is there any killer ingredient like bacon or jalapenos that you think I should add to my chicken noodle soup? Let me know what you think. Also, check out my tomato sauce and meatballs recipe. And be sure to follow me here and on Twitter.
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