Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

I am going to start off by saying the title to this post has a few lies in it.

First, it's not entirely homemade. I used store-bought noodles.

Second, to make the broth, I used a turkey carcass instead of a chicken one. I had stuck one in the freezer after our Welcome Home/Belated Thanksgiving when my brother-in-law returned home from Afghanistan in December and the in-laws came to visit.

So it should actually read "Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup Made with Turkey Broth and Store-Bought Noodles".

Lets begin!

So, you're going to need a large pot. And by large, I mean LARGE. I used my Paula Deen stock pot I bought from Walmart.

There are a couple of different approaches to this recipe based on what you have in your fridge or freezer, or what your store has on hand.

I put my turkey carcass in the pot and filled it with water to completely cover it. Add a bay leaf or two. I chopped up some vegetables (onions, carrots, celery) and added some fresh herbs leftover from a few earlier recipes here and here (thyme, oregano). Keep the pieces big; they are for flavor and will be strained out at the end of the cooking process. You will add smaller pieces to eat in the soup later.

Since my turkey carcass had basically no meat on it, I needed to add some chicken! I had frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts in the freezer, so I added those to the pot. Bring the pot to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. 

Once heated through, the smell of chicken soup will start to fill the kitchen. I stood at the stove for awhile, just smelling the steam coming off the pot. And that's where my husband found me when he came home for a quick breakfast after PT - and then he joined me at the stove. We stood there, transfixed by the aroma. Inhale, exhale. Repeat. We both agreed that it reminded us of our own grandmothers and their cooking. It is said that homemade chicken noodle soup can actually help cure a cold and make you feel better. It definitely drew us in! Both the boys were battling mild colds, and I thought this would be a good dinner for them. It was off to a good start!

I left my boneless chicken in there for about an hour until they were fully cooked. I pulled them out so that I could chop them up and add it to the broth once it was done simmering.

So now the hard part of the process: 

Do nothing. 

Let it simmer.

For as long as you can. The longer, the better. Start it first thing in the morning, or even the night before if you feel comfortable leaving something on the stove unattended for that long. The real healing power comes from within the bones, so a long simmer is important to extract all the good stuff.

Fast-forward many hours. Chop up whatever veggies you want in your soup. I didn't have enough celery to add back in, so I just did carrots. Dice them up nice and small. Put your chopped chicken and veggies into a new pot (also large, but it doesn't have to be as big as the first).

This next part is a little tricky. It's easiest if you have another set of hands to help. 

You have to strain the broth. I had to run out to Walmart and buy some cheesecloth for this.

If you are doing this part alone, the best way to do it is to line a colander with the cheesecloth and put the colander on top of the empty pot. Place in the sink (or even on the floor) and CAREFULLY pour the broth into the colander SLOWLY. The broth will be VERY hot, so pay attention and pour slow. You may have to stop once or twice to pick out the chunks of veggies and scraps that block the flow of the liquid. My husband was already home for the evening when I did this step, so I just held the cheesecloth over the top of the pot and he poured it in.

Sorry there are no photos of this step; we were trying not to burn ourselves or drop anything. Safety first!

Once you have the broth, chicken, and veggies in the pot, you can bring it up to a boil. Since noodles still need to be added, you may need to pour it back into your LARGE pot, which is what we did. I bought the Reames frozen egg noodles, and all you have to do is follow the package directions. I added 2 bags since I had so much liquid. The noodles cook in the simmering broth for 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, and's done!!

Oh, yum.

You may want to keep some extra broth on hand because the noodles will soak up a lot of liquid while stored in the fridge as leftovers.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken carcass OR bone-in chicken pieces
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts if there is no meat on bone-in chicken pieces


-all chopped in large chunks

1 cup finely chopped carrots

2 bags Reames frozen egg noodles

2 bay leaves

Put the chicken in a large pot. Cover with water.
Add the large chopped vegetables and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer; cook for one hour.

Remove chicken meat and chop and reserve for later.
Continue simmering for 12-24 hours or longer to develop the flavor.
Strain broth through cheesecloth into another pot. Discard scraps.
Add chopped chicken and finely chopped carrots back into the broth.
Bring back to a boil and add in frozen noodles.
Simmer noodles for 20 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste; serve and enjoy!
We all went back for seconds, and I think I made homemade bread in the bread machine that night, too. Now, I can't prove that this chicken soup healed the boys, but their symptoms subsided and they felt better the next day. Coincidence?!