Monday, April 1, 2013

Soup #13/Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

I'm playing a little catch up and making sure we have all our soups up on the blog before making the next one. This has definitely been a challenge, but a tasty one and so I will forgive myself for being a bit late getting these up here. But I definitely think there will be a post soon on how this whole thing is going so far, now that we're 1/4 of the way through 2013 (WHAT!?).

This Easter weekend, the weather has taken a turn for the chilly here in LA, and I thought that it was the perfect time to throw in my classic chicken noodle soup.  I have to confess, this soup was in my repertoire before I started this challenge. It's something I learned from my mom and is still, after 12 weeks of soups, E's favorite. On top of all of that, it's really really really easy to make, so even if you're just getting into your kitchen for the first time (like I was when I learned how to make this!) you'll make an amazing soup!

What you will need:
-1 leftover chicken. If you've gone to Costco or Albertsons and enjoyed their tasty chicken for dinner, this is the perfect way to use what's left
-1 large soup pot
-1 about 3-4 chopped carrots (cut into rounds)
-About 1/2 of a bunch of celery, chopped - most importantly, chop up the inside leafy parts of the celery stalk where more of the flavor lies. Even if you don't have a lot of celery, use this part and you will be good. 
-a lot of garlic cloves, whole (now here, you can use your judgement - how garlicy do you like things?  We like garlic, so I would use about 12 whole cloves of garlic. If you're not a big fan, add about 6 for the good flavor. You're can to remove them later)
- One brown onion, chopped up
-Fresh parsley, chopped
-Your noodle of choice. We used about a half a package.
-About 2 tbsp of olive oil
-Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning to add some flavoring in the end.

How to make it:

In your large soup pan, add your 2 tbsp of olive oil and put the pot on medium heat on the stove.   Add in the chopped onions and stir for about 3-5 minutes until they are starting to look clear. Add in the whole garlic cloves and the chopped carrots and celery.  Stir around just to get the flavors mixed. Now remove your pan from the heat. Place your leftover chicken into the pot on top of all the veggies. Add in enough water to fill the pot and cover your chicken. Add in some salt and pepper for the flavoring, otherwise the broth will be bland. You can include Italian seasoning too if you'd like. Place the pot back on the stove and place on medium heat to simmer....for up to 3-4 hours. Check back in about an hour and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. 

At this time, (one hour into your soup's simmer) you can go ahead and go to the next step, or you can let it simmer for the full 3-4 hours. What's happening is that the flavors are getting richer the longer it simmers. But after about an hour or hour and a half, you can continue with making your soup, if you don't want to wait that long. 

Remove your whole chicken from the soup and place it on a cutting board or in a large bowl to cool. Remove and discard your whole garlic cloves from the broth, or you can leave them in. They turn mushy and soft and add great flavor. I usually leave about 1/2 of mine in. Congratulations, you have just made chicken broth! You can leave the broth on a low simmer with a lid on, or turn the heat off for now. If you like your carrots to be a little more firm rather than mushy, skip adding them in the beginning and you can add them in now, keeping the pot on a simmer. 

Allow your chicken to cool enough that you can touch it without burning your hands. When its the right temperature, start pulling the meat from the bones. It should fall off pretty easily. Make sure to separate out all the bone/skin/cartilage/etc from the meat. Save the meat and shred it into bit sized pieces. When you're done, add the meat to the broth. 

Turn your stove back to medium-high heat and when it's boiling, add in your noodles. Taste the broth again (carefully - it's hot!) and add additional spices to taste. When the noodles are ready, remove from heat add your finely chopped parsley for added flavor. Serve immediately in giant bowls (you'll want that much!), and ENJOY!

The verdict: Obvious Success. Like I said earlier, this is E's favorite soup still and a classic that you can't beat! My family loves it and it's (shhhh!) it's a great way to show people that you can cook, even if you don't know how! ;)

What we'd do differently: The wonderful thing about Chicken Noodle Soup is that you can change it up. If you want potatoes instead of noodles, do it! You'll want to add them in later, like you did with the noodles. If you want to make it a veggie broth and skip the meat, that's all you have to do. You can use barley instead of noodles, you can add more veggies. It's totally versatile. Here are some other ingredients you can add in: leftover rice, sliced mushrooms, chopped broccoli, garbanzo beans, okra, and green beans. For now, I am sticking with the way I make it, but I'm definitely willing to try to make it differently in the future!