Winter is upon us in Pennsylvania. The sky is grey, the trees are bare and everybody in my house has a cold.
Acting as family doctor, I have prescribed chicken soup.
Now a normal person would open a can, heat it up and call it a day. Instead, I settled for making soup from scratch in my pj’s. No matter how crappy I feel, there’s just something healing about pouring my heart into a meal that I know will nourish my family when they really need it.
My first impulse was to shortcut it and just cross my fingers and throw everything into the pot, but I knew nothing would live up to my go-to chicken soup from Cook’s Illustrated. It takes about 2 hours start to finish but it is so fabulous. I tweaked the recipe a little to account for what I had on hand and added some garlic because I think I read somewhere that it’s good for a cold.
Then I was so excited to dig in that I forgot to photograph it till it was almost gone. Sorry.
But the coolest thing about this soup is that the broth actually tastes good! Instead of some watery, tasteless (or worse, super salty) mess, it’s got a great balance of carrots, onion and chicken in every slurp. And the cornstarch adds just a little body, making the broth seem even less like an afterthought and instead a careful complement.
Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb leftover cooked turkey or chicken
1 cup onion, chopped medium
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup carrot, chopped medium
2 tbsp dried celery flakes
1 qt water
2 qts water mixed with 1 chicken bouillon cube and 2 little containers of Knorr homestyle concentrated chicken stock
2 bay leaves
12 oz chicken breasts, halved
3 tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 cup onion, sliced
1 pkg baby carrots, sliced on the bias
8 oz potato, peeled and cubed into ¾ in pieces
2 cups uncooked egg noodles
1 tbsp minced parsley (which I did not have on hand, but I recommend using if you have some)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken through celery. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes (or if using ground chicken, until it is no longer pink).
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add water through chicken breasts; cover and cook 30 min. Remove lid, heat to high and bring to a boil. Transfer breasts to a plate and set aside. Cook for 20 min at a gentle boil. Strain and allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then skim off fat.
Return stock to Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, make slurry with water and cornstarch. Stir into stock and bring to a gentle boil. Add onion through potato and cook 10-15 min or until potatoes are almost tender, adjust heat to continue gentle boil. Add egg noodles and cook until tender, about 7 minutes more.
Meanwhile, cube chicken and add to soup with parsley. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.