january 23, 2018
Nothing is more comforting in cold and flu season than a hot, steaming bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. Snow days beg for soup, as do those days when your head is clogged and your body aches. You needn’t be ill, however, to appreciate hot soup! Winter is that season for something that tastes like you, or someone, cooked all day to make that special dish just for your nourishment and pleasure.
A recent cold virus that took me down this holiday had me thinking about the healing powers of soup. My neighbor, a supremely talented home cook, gave me two thick hearty soups.Those bountiful bowls plus the restorative power of sleep (getting eight to nine hours of much-needed rest made me question why I only allow this during times of illness!) got me through the achey period feeling comforted and well fed. I made both this chicken noodle soup and a hearty good luck New Year’s Hoppin’ John for the remainder of the winter holiday time and vowed to share this soup with you in hopes that you make it even if you are hale and hearty. Having a few containers in the freezer is a plus this winter.
You can use your favorite rotisserie chicken, or make my simple roasted chicken recipe. Whichever you use, pulling the meat off the bones while the chicken is still warm is much easier than when the bird has chilled and meat sticks close to the bones. Roasted chicken is supremely flavorful; when I made the chicken for this recipe, I made sure to enjoy a few slices off the top including that crispy burnished skin. The rest of the meat went into the soup pot. The carcass was used for stock and another soup. Not much goes to waste here!
This soup is nothing like the canned version we all ate as kids. Thick and chunky with root vegetables and generous amounts of pulled chicken, a large bowl can be your lunch or dinner and not just a prelude to the meal. A good accompaniment would be my Fluffy Breakfast Muffins, slathered with butter or honey. Equally fitting would be some hot Parmesan Spoonbread Souffle on the side, also dotted with butter. I use gluten free Manischewitz noodles made from potato and tapioca starches, hearty and chewy noodles that freeze well. Any noodle will do—you will simply adjust cooking times to suit the noodles, stopping the cooking once your noodles reach the soft yet still chewy stage. While your soup cools, the noodles will soak up lots of liquid and so think of this as a chunky soup concentrate. Adding more water with the reheating will require adjusting the salt and pepper to taste.
You will need a big heavy pot, but no need to feel intimidated by the amount of soup you make, since a few good meals, and a few smaller ones, are like gold in your fridge or freezer. There will be plenty for sharing, too, if you know someone who needs a little TLC this winter.
Chicken Noodle Root Vegetable Soup
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes about 4 quarts soup, depending on chunkiness of final mix – water will need to be added for reheating
3-4 pound whole roasted chicken or purchased rotisserie chicken, warm
one large sweet onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
3 tablespoons roasted chicken pan drippings or neutral oil like canola
one teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 medium large rutabagas, peeled and diced
2 large turnips, peeled and diced
6 ounces of your favorite noodles (I use Manischewitz gluten free, made from potato and tapioca starches)
optional garnish : fresh thyme sprigs
additional salt and pepper for seasoning
- While chicken is still warm, remove some slices with crispy skin for eating and pull the rest of the meat off the bone. Save the carcass for making stock if desired.
- In heavy 8 quart stockpot or dutch oven, combine chopped onion, celery and carrot with pan drippings or oil, and kosher salt and pepper.
- Stir over medium low to medium heat until vegetables begin to soften and onion becomes translucent, about 10-12 minutes; adjust heat as necessary to avoid browning.
- Add minced thyme and stir for a few seconds, then add root vegetables, chicken meat, 2-3 quarts of water (depending on depth of pot—you want all the vegetables and chicken covered and you may need to add more as the soup simmers) and bring to boil.
- Reduce to simmer and cook, partly covered, about 30 minutes.
- Add noodles, bring to boil, then simmer gently until noodles are cooked through, but still nice and slippery.
- Serve immediately, or, for best flavor, chill overnight, skim off fat and reheat, adding water or broth until desired texture; you will need to adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper.
- I find the best way to cool soup is to pour into a large rectangular baking dish or metal roasting pan, then once completely cooled pack into containers for chilling or freezing.
- Think of this as a chunky soup concentrate—chill or freeze and add water or broth later to save space.