Comfort Food 101: Chicken Noodle Soup

Reader Contribution by Renee Benoit
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Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

My love of soup began with my dad because he made every soup you can think of and he made them all from scratch. He made chili (it was always watery, not thick), vegetable beef (just green beans, canned tomatoes and some ordinary cut of beef), oyster stew (every Christmas), potato also known as Vichyssoise (he loved to say the name! Vee-Shee-Swahs!), clam chowder (always New England), navy or great northern bean and a myriad of others. My mother, on the other hand, was queen of the homemade noodle and chicken soup. She made noodles like nobody’s business probably because she learned how to do it from her mother, a German farmer’s wife and immigrant.

When I started out on my own I used recipes from cook books and didn’t deviate. Now I just get out the basic ingredients and go to town.

What you need to make Chicken soup from scratch without a recipe

  • Soup Stock
  • Chicken – breast meat or thighs – can be skinless or not, boneless or not
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Homemade Noodles (Optional – recipe follows)

How to make stock from scratch

1. Simmer chicken in 3 or 4 units of water. I fill my 4-quart stock pot half-way with water. You’re going to have leftovers unless you have a big family to feed. Leftovers are good! Even better the next day. Plop in a chicken breast or 2 depending how much meat you like, or a chicken thigh or 2. Add a couple carrots and celery ribs for flavor. Also, add 3 or 4 smashed and peeled garlic cloves. Lastly add a quartered onion. Don’t dice anything. This is for flavor. You’ll fish them out later.

2. Simmer everything together until the meat is cooked.

3. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon, set aside and strain through cheesecloth or fine sieve. If your chicken had bones bone the meat as soon as the meat is cool enough to touch.

4. Shred the meat, chop the cooked vegs and return to the pot to heat if you all you want is simple chicken soup.

If you want noodle soup here’s how to make easy homemade noodles

Egg Noodles

Noodles give the soup more body. Fresh noodles cook quickly and are just what the doctor ordered!

Ingredients

  • 2 units of unbleached wheat flour. A couple coffee mugs will do it.
  • A little bit of salt in the palm of your hand. You know what a teaspoon looks like. A little bit less than that.
  • 1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks.
  • A little bit of water to moisten.

Pile the flour into a clean table. Make a well in the center of the flour and plop the eggs, salt and a little bit of liquid in the middle and, from the edges of the flour pile, start scooping the flour onto the eggs and mix with your hands until egg and flour are incorporated. Your hands are going to get messy. That’s OK. Just scrap the mess off and keep mixing until it’s a soft almost sticky dough. If, perchance, it’s too dry add a bit more water. If it’s too wet add a bit of flour. You’re looking for a soft dough slightly sticky but not wet.

A little help with noodle dough: it needs to be a soft dough almost sticky. You don’t want to work the dough so much that the gluten starts to form as it would if you were to knead it. You’re looking for a dough consistency that would be hard to roll out under ordinary circumstances because it sticks to the rolling pin. To take care of the sticking issue, after you scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the counter using a dough scraper, sprinkle a liberal amount of flour on top of the pile before you start to use the rolling pin. If it starts sticking to your rolling pin again add a little more flour until you have it rolled out to the thickness you want.

Roll the dough out on a floured board until it’s pretty thin. Like maybe 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. You can work in small batches to make it easier, because we’re not looking for food processor perfect noodle, are we? Roll up the flattened pieces from the short side to make a long tube. This is where you realize having a goodly amount of flour keeps the dough from sticking to itself. Dip your sharp knife in flour and cut through the rolled-up dough. Unfurl the strips and spread them on the table or hang from a rack to dry a bit.

When you’re ready to cook just plop them in the sightly boiling soup for about 5 minutes. Make sure there’s enough broth in the pot. The noodles will swell when cooked and the residue flour will thicken the liquid. It’s better to have enough liquid in the beginning but if you don’t have enough you can add more. It depends on how thick they are to see how long they take to cook. Fish one out, cut it in half and see if the center has a white uncooked center or if it’s cooked all the way through. Taste and adjust your salt and pepper seasoning to your liking. Don’t over salt in the cooking. Whoever is eating can always adjust the seasoning, too.

Then I’ll come over and we can have soup together! Cheers!

Renée Benoitis a writer, artist, ranch caretaker and dedicated do-it-yourselfer who currently lives in a 26-foot travel trailer with her husband, a cat, and two dogs while they travel the Western United States in search of beautiful, peaceful vistas and hijinks and shenanigans. Connect with Renée atRL Benoit, andread all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts.


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