I have a confession; I have a fear of making soup. Why, I am not really sure. I think it has something to do with the fact that I have so many memories of my mom and my grandmother making wonderful soups. It really is a family tradition that comes from out Eastern European ancestors. I have just recently tried to make soup on my own, but this is the first that I really feel is mine. I will even pat myself on the back and give myself credit for this one. It was good. Really good. I was even surprised because I am picky about chicken soup. I think it is tarragon, I don’t think I like it. So, I used what I like instead, thyme, it made all the difference for me.
Since my mom is under the weather today, I got inspired and decided to conquer my fear. There is nothing more classic than chicken noodle soup and nothing better to nourish you out of a cold. There are many variations, but really it just consists of chicken stock, mirepoix, chicken and noodles. So simple. And yet, some are better than others, so what gives? To me, the key is in the ingredients. Starting with a great stock is key. We have already made chicken stock together, remember? Next, make sure to cut your vegetables in even pieces, the onions small and the chicken in bite sized pieces. My grandma swore that there is no need to sauté the vegetables before adding to the stock and I think she is right. Skipping that step eliminates the fat element and the vegetables still end up tender. Finally, make your own noodles. I know, I know, it seems like a lot of work, but I promise it is easy and they make a huge difference. Just try it! This will rock your socks off! I can’t wait to hear what you think.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients for Soup:
2 quarts chicken stock
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
2 chicken breasts, cubed
Small handful fresh thyme, stems removed
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Ingredients for Noodles:
1 cup flour
Generous pinch of coarse salt
Tablespoon fresh thyme, stems removed
Bring chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat. Add the thyme, bay leaves, onion, celery and carrots. Allow to simmer about 10 minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender.
Add chicken to the pot making sure not to allow the pot to boil, but maintain a simmer (it will keep the chicken tender.) Allow to cook about 20 minutes. If the stock has reduced too much, add additional water about a cup at a time, season with salt and pepper then reduce to a low simmer. To prepare the noodles, add all ingredients to a food processor with the blade. Pulse until the dough just comes together forming a ball, do not over mix. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead 3-5 times until the dough is smooth. Gently form into a ball and cover with a towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Roll out the dough until it is very thin making sure to sprinkle with flour to keep from sticking and loosening the dough from the board and turning often. You should be able to nearly see through the dough when it is ready.
Sprinkle again with flour and roll the dough up lengthwise so you can cut the dough into strips easily. Cut the dough into desired width.
Unroll each noodle and make them into a nest to allow them to dry a bit while the soup simmers. Make sure to toss in a bit of flour to keep them from sticking.
When they are ready to go into the soup, shake them through a strainer to remove the extra flour.
Add to the boiling soup just before you are ready to serve and allow to cook approximately 3 minutes. Remove bay leaves, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Scoop into bowls and enjoy!
**P.S. If the stock and noodles really scare you, use prepared stock and egg noodles. It will still be good J