When I was a kid, making chicken noodle soup involved proper technic and a lot of skill.
You had to use just the right wrist action to get that can opened without spraining something. Then came adding the exact amount liquid to leave it flavorful and not watered down (hint: fill the can just enough to cover the top set of ridges). And don’t even get me started on how hard it was to heat it to the perfect temperature: not too hot, not too cold.
My kids, on the other hand, are soup snobs. They think a can of sodium-laden goodness is gross. They won’t touch it with a ten-foot spoon.
They are clearly spoiled by homemade.
I suppose that’s sort of good thing. I want them to enjoy healthy, wholesome food. Still, I also want to pop open an easy dinner every now and then. Seriously.
Who can blame them for liking the real stuff? The smell that floats through the house when a big ‘ol pot of homemade chicken noodle soup is cooking is almost too good to be true, and the chunks of chicken and egg noodles (or my husband’s favorite: rice) make it irresistible.
It’s enough to ruin a child’s view of chicken soup forever.
You have been officially warned.
This recipe is simple enough to show up on my menu plan every couple of weeks. It’s a great way to use up chicken that’s leftover from another meal or a grocery store rotisserie, and it’s the perfect place for the carrots and celery that have seen crisper days. (You have some of those in your fridge, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one. Please.)
Homemade Chicken Noodle (or Rice) Soup
Start by chopping a couple stalks of celery. It doesn’t matter if the veggies are sliced thick or diced tiny, just so long as they’re all about the same size so they’ll cook evenly.
Chop two or three carrots. My younger son eats around the carrots. And the celery, too, for that matter. Hey, that takes mad picking skills, folks.
And chop up one onion.
Then comes my secret ingredient: garlic. It adds complexity to the finished soup. (Yes, my friends, I just used the word “complexity”. I feel so professional.)
Heat some olive oil in the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the chopped veggies and cook over medium heat until tender, tossing in a teaspoon or so of salt after they start to cook.
If they begin to brown before they soften, add a little water or stock to the pan to help them out.
While the veggies are cooking, boil a separate pot of water for the noodles. That’s my other secret. By cooking the noodles (or rice) separately, they don’t soak up all the broth from the soup or turn to mush.
Once the vegetables can be easily poked with a fork, pour in eight cups of chicken stock. I prefer the richness of homemade stock, but canned or boxed broth will stand in just fine.
Put in about two cups of cooked chicken, torn or cut into chunks (please try to ignore the totally unappetizing color of my chicken – yuck!). Add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for about 10 minutes until the chicken is heated through and the flavors have combined.
At this point, the noodles can be added to the soup, or you can keep them separate and simply put some noodles into the individual bowls and ladle the soup on top.
The noodles will absorb some of the broth, even in the refrigerator, so keep that in mind when deciding to add the noodles or not. Consider flipping a coin like I do.
Oh. my. Doesn’t that look good?
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 8 cups chicken stock or broth
- 2 cups cooked chicken, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 pound uncooked egg noodles (or 1 cup uncooked rice)
- Salt and pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic, and cook until soft, stirring often. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt after the vegetables begin to cook. If the vegetables start to brown before they are softened, add enough water or stock to just cover the bottom of the pan and continue to cook until they can be pierced easily with a fork.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles (or rice) in a separate pot, according to package directions. Be careful not to overcook.
- Once the vegetables are tender, add the stock or broth and the cooked chicken to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is heated through and the flavors have blended, about ten minutes.
- Finally, add the cooked and drained noodles (or rice) to the soup, or put noodles into individual bowls and ladle soup over top. Keep in mind that the noodles will absorb some of the broth and will continue to soften as they are in the soup.
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