A winter nip is in the air, and that means it’s time for soup! At our house, soup isn’t always just a starter for a fancy dinner; it can be an economical, healthy, hearty, and delicious meal in itself. Kids love soup. It’s generally easy to prepare. And it’s a good way to clean out that veggie drawer in the fridge!
Over the next couple of months, I’ll be sharing some of my favorites. I’m starting with probably the most popular and certainly the most American of soups: Chicken Noodle Soup. It has long been called “Jewish penicillin,” and I think there may be some truth to that. In any case, it’s loaded with all kinds of goodness that’s bound to make you feel better, whether you’re sick or not.
This recipe hinges on—you guessed it—chicken! Make sure to use free-range, organic chicken if you can swing it. Our local butcher shop sources all it’s meats and only buys from sustainable growers, many of them local. Of course, my recipe calls for roasting the chicken before it goes into the soup, but if you’re pressed for time, you can always grab a pre-roasted chicken from the market, though it may not be organic.
I think Chicken Soup should always be simple. But if you want to play, the noodles are where the fun is. Usually, I prefer linguine, for a more traditional soup. I use gluten-free pasta and break it into three or four inch lengths, but don’t be afraid to try different kinds, shapes, and colors of noodles or even alphabet pasta to make it fun for the kids!
1 double breast of chicken, ribs attached
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
4 stalks celery: 2 diced, the other 2 cut in half
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
three sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup water
1/2 an 8 oz.package of linguine (or 4-6 oz. of other pasta)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
For the Chicken:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a casserole dish, make a rack, shaped like a pound sign, with the four half-pieces of celery. Squeeze one half of the lemon over both sides of your chicken, then pour and rub the olive oil over both sides. Sprinkle both sides with 1/4 of the salt & pepper. Place on the celery rack, and pour one cup of chicken broth into the dish and add one sprig of thyme. Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the meat (my two-pound double chicken breast took 1 hr).
While the chicken is baking, sauté the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in the butter until the onions are translucent (about 7 minutes), adding a few tablespoons of broth, as needed to keep moist. Add two sprigs of thyme*, the bay leaf*, pepper and remaining broth. Squeeze the other half lemon into the soup. Add the 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken comes out of the oven.
While the chicken is cooling slightly, add the pasta/noodles to the soup and continue to simmer.
Using a knife and fork, pull the meat from the bones and either shred or dice, then add to the soup. If your pieces were large and you feel it is undercooked, fear not; it will finish cooking in seconds once it hits the simmering broth. Check to make sure noodles are done, adjust salt and pepper to taste, and serve, garnishing each bowl with a sprinkle of parsley.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme twigs before serving.
Total prep and cooking time: One and a half hours. Serves six 10 oz. bowls.
TIPS: Save the drippings from your roasting pan in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer to add flavor to a future sauce or gravy!! Throw the chicken carcass, with any remaining meat that’s attached, into a stock pot of water along with a carrot, two shallots, two cloves of garlic, two stalks of celery (all roughly chopped). Add a sprig of fresh thyme and a leaf of fresh sage then simmer, covered, for an hour. Strain and freeze in a plastic container, and you’ll have stock for next time!