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Monday Menu: Chicken Noodle Soup

January 19, 2009

chickensoup

I like Campbell’s as much as the next person, but homemade chicken noodle soup is not hard to make. Here’s how I do it… again, this is a recipe that is not so much about amounts as it is about methods:

Take several bone-in chicken breasts – I often use the frozen ones that come in the big plastic bags at Wal-Mart or Sam’s. Put the breasts in a large pot and cover with water, then set your burner on high to bring them to a boil.

Here’s a tip I read from Tom Colicchio of Bravo’s “Top Chef:” when the water  starts to boil a bit, and you start to see that scum develop on top?  Just dump it out. You can dump out all the water, save the chicken, then just refill the pot with fresh water and boil again. No one really likes scummy broth, and Tom says that  this early in the process, you aren’t sacrificing anything much in the way of flavor. We now resume our regular programming…

Once you have your pot boiling well, turn the heat down and let the chicken simmer for… oh, for however long you have. I like to let it simmer an hour at least, sometimes more. You might need 30-60 minutes later to finish it all off and serve it, so plan accordingly.

Once the chicken has simmered good and long, pull the pieces out with tongs and set them in a large bowl or on a cutting board to cool off a bit. Then if desired, you can skim the fat off the stock. I usually pour the stock into some large container, straining it as I go to catch any stray chicken parts or other nasty bits. In the end I have a nice, clean stock which I pour back into my pot and return to the stove.

At this point, add in chopped carrots, celery, and perhaps a little finely chopped onion (not much). Season with plenty of salt and pepper, and maybe some parsley. Depending on how much stock you ended up with and how many people you need to feed, you might decide to supplement with some canned broth or water and bouillon to reach the desired amount of soup.

Now that the chicken has cooled enough to handle, pull it off the bones and cut it up or just shred it with your hands and return it to the pot with the stock. Sometimes I have more chicken meat than I really need, so I save a couple breasts and put them in the fridge to make chicken salad the next day.

Once all the veggies and meat are in the pot, heat it up to boiling again and then add the noodles of your choice. I usually use the “No Yolks” extra wide ribbons, and I put a lot in so that there is a high noodle-to-broth ratio. You can adjust to your own preferences.

When the noodles are cooked, the soup is ready to serve!

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