If there was ever a time for homemade chicken noodle soup, it is now: it’s cold out, two of my kids are sick with head colds – one of whom is on a tight deadline to finish his college applications, there are innocent people being brutally and violently attacked by law enforcement officials in North Dakota but they bravely continue to fight the good fight, our president-elect is making a mockery of our democracy and threatening to shred everything that is good, kind and reasonable about our country – and every new headline seems worse than the one before. Plus, all of a sudden it’s the holiday season.
My version starts with a roasted chicken. As many of you know, I roast a chicken almost every Sunday (you can read about my recipe here) and it’s really my very favorite way to eat chicken. The bonus is that you’ve got the chicken carcass handy to make a very easy, flavorful stock. It just takes a little forethought.
First, when I serve the chicken I take all the juice in the bottom of the roasting pan and I put it into a little pitcher to pass at the table. This juice is like solid gold – it’s a roasted chicken flavor bomb so be sure not to waste any of it. After dinner I save what’s left of the juice and put it in the fridge. The next day it will be solid like jelly. If I’m not making chicken soup that week I slip it into a zip lock bag and put it into the freezer for next time.
Then, either Sunday night after dinner or the next day, I pull most of the rest of the chicken off the carcass and set it aside. I take the carcass, still with a little fringe of meat, any bones or skin that I’ve scavenged from my family’s dinner plates and leaving the garlic, lemon and any herbs in the cavity I put the whole thing in a medium-sized pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and then reduce to medium-low and simmer gently for an hour or two. Alternatively, if I’m doing this on Sunday night I’ll put it in my slow cooker, cover it with cold water, turn it on low and leave it on overnight.
After the stock has simmered until it’s nice and flavorful, I turn off the heat and let it cool down, with the carcass still in there. If I’m not making soup right away, I put the whole pot in the fridge for another day or so. I consider this to be kind of a steeping time for the chicken. When I need the stock, or when I’m ready to transfer it to the freezer, I remove the carcass and all the rest of the solids from the stock and strain it.
Now we’re ready for soup!
- 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 - 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
- 2 - 4 carrots, washed and chopped
- 2 - 4 celery stalks, washed and chopped
- About a half a cup of dry white wine
- 2 - 3 quarts of good chicken stock (if you don't have enough from the recipe above, supplement with good quality store bought)
- 1 bay leaf
- About 1 tablespoon of herbes de provence
- 3 - 4 inches of lemon peel
- about a pound of leftover chicken chopped up or raw boneless, skinless thighs
- About 6 ounces of pasta, I usually use penne or something like it
- leftover chicken juice (see above)
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parsley, chopped
- In a large pot warm the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and a good pinch of salt. Saute until it starts to become translucent. Add the carrots and the garlic and continue to saute, then add the celery. Let all of this cook - stirring occasionally - until the vegetables start to get soft and maybe a little caramelized.
- Add the wine and let it bubble, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Now pour in about 2 quarts of your stock, saving the rest for later. Add the bay leaf, the herbes de provence, the lemon peel and if you're using raw chicken add that now too. Let that all simmer for a little while, maybe 20 minutes, until the vegetables and chicken are cooked through.
- Remove the chicken thighs and cool slightly. Cut them in to bite sized pieces.
- Add the noodles and the leftover chicken juice to the soup and when the noodles almost cooked add the cooked chicken to the pot. You may want to add more stock at this point, depending on the ratio of noodles to broth that you prefer. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Just before you're ready to serve, stir in a handful of chopped Italian parsley.