Friday, October 26, 2012

A Chicken in Every Pot.

Tis the season! Tis the cold and flu season that is, and while flu shots are available at doctor offices and pharmacies, not so for colds. What to do to battle a cold; why chicken soup of course! Chicken soup is comfort food and a folklore cure for whatever ails you. In 2007, the University of Nebraska analyzed research studies to find that chicken soup's medicinal properties were "inconclusive". You ask anyone who doesn't feel well, depressed, tired or just all around blah; they'll tell you to take all the research and shove it where the sun don't shine.

Here in Monticello, Utah the weather has finally taken a turn towards the cold; several times it has gotten very windy and darkly clouded over and snow was anticipated. Then my son calls me up one day and says, "Mom, I don't feel well, you have anything I could eat?" Regretfully I had no chicken soup made, but he said that my Paella made him feel so much better; he did a three hour workout at the local gym. Well of course it would, it had chicken in it!  Anyway, I took no further chances and decided to make soup for him; some for my friend Heidi whose allergies were acting up due to the wood burning stoves, and freeze some in case it was needed at a later time.

Now when making soup, there is the quick method, like with my Chicken Tortellini Soup which uses mostly canned and frozen items. Then there is the slower method using freshly made stock, freshly diced vegetables and chicken breasts which are sauteed with seasonings. With this blog post, we're going with the slower method of making chicken soup.

The stock I used was a mixture of turkey and chicken stocks that I had made with the carcasses of previously roasted birds.  Granted, the stock was then frozen after being prepared, but it was still freshly made in my kitchen and by my own hands; not some food factory machine.  I knew exactly was in that stock and it was a clear stock, not cloudy because of preservatives added in.  When making your stock, besides the bird carcass, you'll be adding in the "holy trinity" of cooking: carrots, celery and onion.  With the onion, leave the skin on if you want a more golden color to your stock; it will all be strained later on, so no need to worry about onion skin in your stock.  I also add salt, ground black pepper and cloves of garlic for aroma and taste; so when making soup later on, be careful adding more of these ingredients.  Taste!!!  You can always add, but you can't take away if you add too much before tasting.

The pasta I used for the soup was old fashioned, homestyle egg noodles.  They are longer and thicker than the curvy egg noodles used for a side dish to stroganoffs or stews.  The noodles plump up and elongate once they are ready to eat.

Now this recipe is a bit of work, but so definitely worth it; now lets get to it.

Chicken Noodle Soup

4 qts of turkey, chicken or combination of both stocks
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup diced red bell pepper
5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves; trim off fat
pinch of salt and ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed, dried thyme leaves
12 to 16 oz homestyle egg noodles (dependent on how much noodles you like in your soup)


Add the stock, onion, carrots, celery and bell pepper to a tall stock pot; set on medium heat to begin simmering.

In a large pan, add the chicken, cover with water and set on medium-high heat.  Let cook for 10 minutes, any fat will foam at the top; rinse off chicken and cut into 1 inch pieces.  In a large skillet, medium-high heat, saute' the chicken pieces until no pink is showing.  Sprinkle the salt, black pepper and thyme leaves during the cooking; mix well.

Add the chicken, and any juices in the skillet, to the stock pot.  Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil.  Add the egg noodles; they will be ready once they plump up and double in length; about 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and serve in bowls.

Makes 12 servings.

Mary Cokenour