Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Once you’ve already spent 4+ hours making amazing homemade chicken broth, making chicken noodle soup is a snap. It’s perfect for a day like today: strong winds, torrential downpours, flooding… forget your to-do list and just stay inside with a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Ingredients, yields 2 meal-sized bowls of soup

  • 3 cups of homemade chicken broth
  • 1 chicken breast from the broth
  • 1-2 carrots from the broth
  • 1-2 parsnips from the broth
  • 1 piece of celery root from the broth
  • a couple handfuls of fresh egg noodles (cooked)
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • chopped fresh cilantro

Start by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fresh egg noodles and cook for just a minute or two. You can also use dried egg noodles (follow timing instructions from the package). After the noodles are cooked al dente, drain them and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process and rinse off the starch. Do not skip the step of cooking them first. If you think, “oh, I’ll just cook them in the boiling broth,” please reconsider. It changes the flavor of the broth and gives a starchy taste that takes away from the delicate flavor of good chicken broth.

On a plate or cutting board, dice the chicken breast and slice the broth vegetables into evenly-sized pieces. Add all of these and the chicken broth to a pot (I just give a quick rinse to the pot I used to cook the noodles). Heat the broth, meat, and broth vegetables over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop the parsley and cilantro. You may also want to run your knife through the noodles a few times. Though some people consider it a sacrilege, I prefer bite sized noodles to splashes of soup all over my favorite blouse. Once the broth is simmering, take it off the heat. Add the noodles and chopped herbs. Ladle it into soup bowls and enjoy.

Chicken Velouté – Romanian Ciulama de Pui

I had a hard time figuring out what to call this in English. Thankfully, after some Google searches, I discovered that the closest equivalent to Romanian ciulama in English is actually the French sauce called velouté. Though the name sounds fancy, this is really just simple comfort food. Plus, as our family found out this week, it’s amazing when you’re fighting a cold. Makes sense – it has lots of chicken broth, fresh garlic, and parsley.

Ingredients, serves 2

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1-1.5 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 2 servings of cooked chicken (legs, breasts, wings, back, anything goes)
  • 2-3 cloves of freshly pressed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few sprigs of parsley for each plate

Start with two small pots. Heat the homemade chicken broth in one pot while making a simple roux in the other. You’ll want to bring the broth up to a boil and then turn off the heat. Remember to prep your ingredients before you start making the roux because you’ll want to stir constantly once that starts.

Debone and shred your pieces of chicken into bite-sized or smaller pieces. I usually use the chicken that was boiled to make the broth. Boiled chicken isn’t usually particularly flavorful and so this is a delicious way to use it. If you don’t have that on hand because you’re using frozen broth that you made earlier, you can also use roasted chicken for this recipe. Set the shredded meat aside for later.

To make the roux, melt the butter in a pan until it starts to bubble. Sprinkle the flour onto the butter and then stir the mixture over medium-to-low heat for a few minutes to cook the flour. Slowly add hot chicken broth, one ladle at a time, while stirring or whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Stop adding liquid when the mixture appears to be a little thinner than you’d like but not fully liquid either. It will thicken a little bit more as it cooks. Taste it and add salt and pepper if needed – it depends on the seasoning level of your broth.

When the sauce looks ready, add the shredded chicken and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Remove it from the heat and add the freshly pressed garlic. Feel free to scrape out the garlic fibers that remain inside the press and also add those to the pot. Stir to combine and pour into two bowls. Tear a few sprigs of fresh parsley and place them on top of the chicken velouté or, if you’re Romanian, ciulama de pui.

Dig in with a big spoon and enjoy the garlicky goodness!

 

Liquid Gold aka Homemade Chicken Broth

Perhaps even more important than getting your flu shot, replenishing the freezer supply of homemade chicken broth before flu season begins is essential. When you’re sniffly, achy, and exhausted you’re not going to want to make anything, much less a soup that takes several hours to cook. As there’s nothing more soothing and restorative than a hot bowl or mug of homemade chicken broth, I always keep a few containers on hand in the freezer. It’s also great for cooking, though I never seem to get that far with it. Really, with a broth this good, you just drink it as is – no need for meat, vegetables, noodles, matzah balls, or even a spoon!

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken, cut into parts
  • water
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled or unpeeled, whole
  • 3-4 parsnips, peeled, whole (or parsley root, if you can find it)
  • 1 large celery root, peeled, cut in four
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut in half
  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, peeled, whole
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper, ground
  • white pepper, ground

Getting a good quality bird is really important when it comes to making soup. Mom and grandma always said that the bigger and older the bird the richer and tastier the broth. Though I don’t usually select my chicken based on age or size, I do like to get mine from a local organic chicken farm. I like to know that she roamed around in the sun, pecking at insects in the grass. The factory farm alternative is not so picturesque and, frankly, I think it affects the quality of the meat.

Cut your fresh chicken into parts (legs, wings, breasts, breast bone, back). Place the pieces into a large soup pot and cover with cool water. I usually go a couple inches above the level of the chicken but leave enough room to be able to add veggies to the pot later.

Bring the water and chicken to a boil. Use a skimmer to remove the foam that rises to the top after it starts to boil. When foam stops rising, add the vegetables. I mentioned above which ones I leave whole or cut. I usually tie the parley together gently with one of the thicker pieces of parsley. It requires a little finesse to tie it without breaking it but it makes it a lot easier to remove from the soup later. I add the parsley last so that it floats on top. After you add all of the vegetables, season with salt, cayenne pepper, and white pepper.

At this point, lower the temperature on the stove to a simmer and cover part-way with a lid. Simmer the soup on low heat for around 2 hours after adding the vegetables.

When the soup is done, remove all of the vegetables and meat. Throw away the onions, parsley, and celery. If you don’t mind mushy, you can eat the carrots, parsnip, and celery root. The vegetables were really just there to give the broth an amazing flavor. The meat, however, should be really tender and delicious after boiling for so long. In fact, the cartilage even start to break down and get soft. It’s not the most flavorful meat preparation but it can be dressed up with a sauce or combined with more dominant side dishes. I actually like it the way it is out of the pot. Again, the star of the show is the broth. So, ladle some liquid gold into your favorite mug or bowl right after making it and freeze the rest for a rainy day.