Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I made this delicious (and good looking) chicken noodle soup completely from scratch!

Okay, that's a lie.  I did not not make the egg noodles.  I picked those up at Albertson's, but everything else about this soup is completely homemade, I promise!

I love cooking.  I've been cooking for a long time, and I'm one of those people who photographs pretty much everything that comes out of her kitchen.  I've never blogged my food, but I have a pretty extensive photo album on Facebook detailing many of the things that I've cooked over the last few years.  Friends have been telling me for as long as I can remember that I should write a blog, and my response was always, "Ha! I don't have the time or dedication for that!"

Well, since I published my first blog post, I've been determined to make the time and work really hard on the dedication.  I'm currently working on pre-requisites for a master's degree in physician assistant studies, and I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to studying.  I'm prone to dedicating myself fully to one thing rather than piecing it all out and prioritizing-- some call this "hyperfocusing."  While it is great for my grades, it's not so good for maintaining a good sense of balance in my life.  So, this blog is one of several things that I'm using as a tool for diversifying my time portfolio, even if it's still 85% studying and 15% "other." :-)

Wait, where was I?  Oh, right.  Chicken noodle soup.

I have a really easy "go-to" recipe that I kind of made up on a whim and have been perfecting over the last couple of years, but it's a quick one that involves boxed chicken stock, chicken bouillon, and frozen vegetables.  My husband LOVES it, and he'd be happy if I never even looked at any other recipe.  Chicken noodle soup at my house is usually a last minute, "Hey, let's make some chicken noodle soup!" followed by scraping up most of the necessary ingredients from the pantry and the freezer.  This time, though, I actually planned ahead after this post from Elise at Simply Recipes showed up in my RSS feed several days ago.

What actually caught my eye about this particular recipe was Elise's technique of parboiling the chicken bones for five minutes while skimming the "scum," dumping the water, rinsing the chicken pieces, and THEN starting the stock with fresh water.  This resulted in a beautiful, clear stock with no weird-looking chicken stuff floating around in it.

Another thing I liked about her recipe was that the "primo" chicken meat (i.e. the breast and thigh meat) are removed from the bones and set aside while they are still raw.  This way, the stock still gets to simmer with all of the bones and some of the little meaty bits, while the "stars" of the chicken meat don't go in until the end.  This way, they don't get overcooked.  I used her suggestion of putting the breast and thigh meat into the soup whole, removing and shredding them, and re-inserting the shredded chicken into the soup.  I prefer my chicken noodle soup with large shreds, rather than "chunks," of chicken.

A couple of other areas in which I strayed from Elise's recipe: My boyfriend, Tyler Florence, puts bay leaves into his chicken stock.  I love the flavor that bay leaves impart, and since my boyfriend says to use them, I did.  (Tyler isn't really my boyfriend.  I'm married to a wonderful man who isn't Tyler Florence.  But I still like to call him that.  Especially since I had the opportunity to meet him once and pose for a little photo op.)

Tyler Florence Book Signing
Don't be jealous.

Also, my husband is not fond of celery.  He's not fond of a lot of vegetables, actually, but he doesn't mind cooked carrots.  So, while I used celery in the stock, I did not add it to the actual soup.

This is also probably a good time to mention my "house seasoning."  I'm from Louisiana, where Tony Chachere's takes the top shelf spot in most spice cabinets.  But since I came across my own seasoning, it has pretty much replaced poor Tony.  I still use Tony's in certain applications, but my husband and I always, ALWAYS have a little glass jar of our house seasoning by the stove, and we use it for pretty much anything that needs to be salted.  The recipe can be found here.  So, instead of using the 3 tablespoons of salt suggested for seasoning this soup, I used 2 tablespoons of salt and then supplemented to taste with my beloved house seasoning:

 House seasoning.  It's pretty, too!

My final alteration to this recipe was made because we like for our chicken noodle soup to be less on the watery side and more on the "just a little bit thick" side.  Not a whole lot of thick, not even enough to coat a spoon, really.  Just a little.  This COULD be done by using a roux, but I just add 1/4 cup flour to a glass measuring cup and fill to the 1/2 cup mark with water.  I guess you could consider this a slurry.  Then I pour it slowly into the soup at the very end, stirring quickly to avoid producing any lumps.

The result of all this effort is a delicious, comforting, heart-tingling pot of chicken noodle soup.  I dare you to eat just one bowl.

So, there you have it.  Simple, satisfying, and *almost* completely from scratch.  I did it, and so can you!

Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into parts (giblets removed)
5 carrots (2 for the stock and 3 for the soup)
2 stalks of celery, including celery tops
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, peel on, cut in half
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or a teaspoon of dried)
1 bunch of parsley
2 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
House seasoning
12 ounces of egg noodles
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour with enough water to make 1/2 cup "slurry"

For the stock:

Remove the breast and thigh meat from the bones, discarding skin, and set meat aside in the refrigerator.

Put remaining chicken bones into a large stock pot and add enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes, skimming any scum that rises to the surface.  Remove the stockpot from the stove, dump the water, and rinse the chicken and stockpot well.

Return chicken parts to the rinsed stockpot and add 3 quarts of water.  Cut 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks (including tops) into 2" chunks; add to stockpot.  Add quartered onion, garlic cloves, thyme, 1/2 bunch parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns.  Cover and simmer on very low heat for 1.5 hours.

Strain stock, reserving chicken pieces.  Remove any "good" meat from the bones and set aside*.  Discard vegetables (or eat them, if you'd like-- they'll need some salt at this point.)

At this point, you can save the stock for later use, or go ahead with the chicken noodle soup.  I had to refrigerate my stock overnight because I ran out of time.

For the soup:

If you refrigerated your stock, put it back on the stove in your stockpot and turn the heat to high.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and then add more salt or house seasoning to bring stock to desired level of saltiness.  (Remember-- you can always add more, but you can't take away, so be careful!)

Add carrots and reserved chicken breasts and thighs to the mixture and cook until chicken is no longer pink inside.  Remove the chicken, cool until handle-able, shred with fingers (or a fork or a Kitchenaid stand mixer-- one of the best kitchen tips EVER).

While the chicken is cooling, add your egg noodles to the pot.  Turn the heat up to medium and cook the noodles for 8-10 minutes.

Add the shredded breasts and thighs back to the pot, as well as the reserved chicken meat that you picked from the bones after making the stock. *

Give the flour and water mixture a good whisk, and slowly pour into the pot, stirring well as you pour.

Season to taste one last time with salt (or house seasoning) and pepper.  Stir in desired amount of chopped parsley.  And enjoy!

*Elise suggested that the chicken meat from the stock may be too dry and tasteless to use in the soup, but could be used in chicken salad or the like.  I was really surprised at how much meat I was able to remove from these bones, and because the pieces were relatively small, I didn't find them too dry or tasteless-- so I used them in the soup.  The more chicken, the better, I say.  This is totally up to you!


  1. so wait why do you boil for 5 minutes then dump? for the scum?
    also why remove the breast and thigh meat ? hmmm interesting

    1. It's mostly for aesthetic purposes than anything-- the scum removal, that is. It's just coagulated proteins that come off of the chicken when it's first being boiled. There's nothing wrong with it, really. The stock is just "prettier" without it. :-)

      The breasts and thighs are removed for the boiling of the stock so that they don't get overcooked-- they're added back in near the end.

      Now, go make yourself some soup!