Prep the vegetables for the stock up front, then prep the vegetables for the soup while the stock is simmering to save overall start-to-finish time.
While this recipe shows the steps for entirely homemade chicken soup, you could also easily make this chicken noodle soup starting with already prepared stock and some raw chicken. Use about 2 quarts of chicken stock, and 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and 2 chicken thighs and proceed to step 6. Making soup this way will take about 30 minutes.
- 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 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 fresh thyme (or a teaspoon of dried)
- 1 bunch parsley
- 5 whole peppercorns
- 4 to 8 ounces egg noodles (depending on how noodle-y you want your soup)
- Freshly ground black pepper
1 Separate breast and thigh meat from bones: 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.
Remove and discard the largest pieces of breast and thigh skin. Cut away and discard excess fat from chicken pieces.
2 Parboil bones for 3 minutes: 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 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, remove from heat, drain off the water, rinse the bones and the pot.
3 Make stock with parboiled bones, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, peppercorns: 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.
4 Strain bones and solids from the stock: 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 could use it in a chicken salad. Rinse out the pot and return the stock to the pot.
5 Salt the stock: 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 each quart of stock, add 2 teaspoons of salt.
6 Add carrots, celery: Add the sliced carrots and celery to the stock, bring to a simmer.
7 Cut raw chicken breast and thigh meat, add to stock: Cut the chicken breast and thigh meat into bite-sized pieces. Add to the pot with the carrots, celery, and stock. Return to a low simmer.
8 Add noodles, bring to simmer: 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.
9 Add parsley, salt, pepper, thyme to serve: Stir in a handful of chopped fresh parsley. Add freshly ground black pepper, more thyme, and more salt to taste.