09 February 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

All right, I'll be the first to admit that I have had canned soup from time to time. Canned soup is acceptable. At least when you have a bad cold and can't taste what you're eating. Seriously, canned soup is generally pretty horrible (including the "gourmet" kinds), and the effort it takes to make a good homemade soup is small - tiny, even, if you don't make your own stock. In this recipe, store-bought chicken stock is perfectly fine, and I don't even use the low sodium kind. It is still far, far less salty than a canned soup, costs less per serving, and tastes so much better. SO much better.

Chicken Noodle Soup

2 chicken breasts with rib meat
8 oz dried egg noodles
2 ribs of celery
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp olive oil

First of all, cook your chicken. I find that for soup, the easiest way is to simply boil it. It may not sound appetizing, but the end result is perfect for shredding into the soup. Cover the chicken breasts with cold water in a medium saucepan and cook over high heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Check with a knife to ensure juices run clear and no pink remains, then rinse with cold water to stop cooking and prevent them from drying out. Shred or cut into bite-sized pieces when cool enough to handle.

While the chicken is cooking, start with the rest of soup. Cut the celery, onion, and carrots into small pieces, and mince the garlic. In a large stock pot or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the vegetables, bay leaves, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened but are not mushy, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. At this point, lower the heat to a simmer and add the shredded chicken. Cook until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs (most of the thyme leaves will have fallen off at this point).

Serve with freshly baked bread or some good crackers.

For an extra kick, the soup can be made with a couple of tablespoons of some dry vermouth or even a splash of white wine. Add together with the chicken stock.

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