Is there anything more comforting than homemade chicken noodle soup? Perfect for cold weather, and especially good if you are fighting off a cold or flu. There are probably as many ways of making chicken noodle soup as there are moms who make it. The key is the stock, homemade from bones. The iron rich gelatin from the bone marrow is good for you, and one of the reasons why homemade chicken stock is so beneficial. If you don’t already have a cache of homemade chicken stock, the following is a recipe for making the entire soup from scratch, starting with a whole chicken, parted out. This recipe makes an especially clean tasting soup with a rich, clear broth, and plenty of noodles.
A few points about the method. First, we separate the meat we plan on using in the finished soup from the bones and meat we will use for the stock. The last thing we want to do is dry out the chicken meat we plan on eating by cooking if for a couple hours.
Second, we parboil the stock meat and bones, at high rolling boil, for 5 minutes, then discard the boiling water. This hard boil forces the scum to the surface all in one go. This is a technique I use for making stock from chicken feet, and helps produce a clear, clean broth.
Finally, I chop up the raw chicken breast and thigh meat and return it to the soup near the end of cooking, to be lightly poached in the soup broth. You could also cook these pieces whole, in the broth, and remove them after 15 minutes of cooking or so, cool them and shred them to be added at service. My friend Jaden cooks the chicken this way in her Vietnamese chicken noodle soup.
That’s it, hope you like it, eat and be well!
- One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into parts—breast, thighs, backs, wings and neck (if available)
- 5 carrots (2 carrots scrubbed clean, but not peeled, cut into 2 inch chunks for the stock, 3 carrots peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds for the soup)
- 5 ribs of celery (2 ribs cut into 2 inch pieces for the stock, 3 ribs cut into 1/4-inch thick slices for the soup), including celery tops for the stock
- 1 onion, quartered (for stock, peel on is okay)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peel on, cut in half
- 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or a teaspoon of dried)
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 5 whole peppercorns
- 8 to 12 ounces of egg noodles (depending on how noodle-y you want your soup)
- Freshly ground black pepper
1 Remove the breast meat from the breast bones, and the thigh meat from the thigh bone, place in a bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator until needed towards the end of preparing the soup. Discard the breast and thigh skin. Remove and discard excess fat from chicken pieces. Place breast and thigh bones, the back, leg, neck, and wings in a large (8 quart) pot. Cover with water. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for 5 minutes, skimming away and discarding the scum that comes to the surface. After 5 minutes, remove from heat, drain off the water, rinse the bones and the pot.
2 Return the now parboiled bones to the clean pot. Add a couple carrots and a couple celery ribs, each cut into 2 inch chunks, and some celery tops if you have them, to the pot with the chicken. (Fennel tops or leek greens can be added too, if you have them.) Add the quartered onion, garlic cloves, thyme, one-half of the parsley, and the peppercorns to the pot. Cover with an inch or two of water (about 3 quarts). Bring to a low simmer (about 185°F) and let simmer (the stock should be just barely bubbling), partially covered, for 1 1/2 hours.
3 At the end of 1 1/2 hours strain out the bones and vegetables, reserving the stock. If you want, set aside and strip the bones of any remaining meat. After parboiling and 1 1/2 hours of cooking the meat will be rather dry and tasteless, though you can use it in a chicken salad. Rinse out the pot and return the stock to the pot.
4 Taste the stock. It should be rather bland because up to now, no salt has been added. Add salt to taste. As a guideline, for 3 quarts of stock, start with 2 tablespoons of salt.
5 Add the sliced carrots and celery to the stock, bring to a simmer. Cut the chicken breast and thigh meat into bite-sized pieces. Add to the pot with the carrots, celery, and stock. Add the egg noodles and return to a simmer. Note that the noodles will expand substantially in the soup broth as they cook. Simmer for until the egg noodles are just barely cooked through, al dente (about 5 minutes or so, depending on your package of noodles), and the chicken is just cooked through. Stir in a handful of chopped fresh parsley.
Add freshly ground black pepper, more thyme, and more salt to taste.