Autumn is here along with the beginning of cold and flu season. Nothing makes a person feel better than a warm bowl of homemade chicken soup on a chilly day. Chicken soup is an age old folk remedy for colds. While there may not be a scientific basis for this claim, there is no doubt that a steaming bowl of chicken soup makes you feel much better.
Every culture that raises chicken has recipes for chicken stew and chicken soup. Local vegetables and regional seasonings make each version unique. Chicken stew has a lower ratio of broth to meat and vegetables and the broth is usually thickened.
The traditional version of chicken noodle soup requires a whole chicken and in my opinion produces the best soup. This recipe cuts time by using pre-cooked leftover chicken parts. The resulting soup is pretty darn good.
- 1 lb, of cooked leftover chicken
- 1 medium onion, about 1 cup, diced
- 1 cup of celery, diced
- 1 cup of carrots, diced or 1 cup of corn (can be omitted)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 8 oz. or more of fine noodles homemade or store bought.
Place the pre-cooked chicken parts in a large pot and add enough water to cover the chicken by at least 2 inches. Bring the chicken to a boil over medium heat, lower the heat to simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes to an hour. Add additional water as needed.
Remove the chicken from the pot, cool and then remove all skin, tendons and gristle. Dice or shred the chicken meat. Put the chicken back into the simmering cooking water.
Clean and prepare the vegetables. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan. Add the vegetables to the hot butter, stir and sauté for about 15 minutes. Pour the vegetables and butter into the pot containing the chicken and broth. Add additional water if needed and the seasonings of your choice. That would include salt, black pepper and possibly sage or poultry seasoning or your favorite combination of dried herbs. While the vegetables can be added without sautéing soups taste better if the vegetables are sautéed with butter. Cover and continue to simmer the soup.
After the vegetables are tender you can put part of the soup aside to cool and then put it into freezer containers. (Add noodles when you thaw and reheat the soup.)
Add the noodles and boil until the noodles are cooked. Simmer the soup over very low heat until ready to serve.
Serve for lunch or dinner with crackers, biscuits, muffins, cornbread or sandwiches.
About a half a pound of broken spaghetti can be used instead of noodles. Break the pasta into two inch pieces.
¼ to ½ cup of raw rice can be cooked in the soup instead of noodles. Add to the soup along with the vegetables and simmer until the rice is tender.
Small egg dumplings can be cooked in the soup instead of noodles.
The corn and carrots can be left out. Frozen or canned corn can be used. Fresh baby carrots sliced thin work well in this recipe.
Some people add a slice of finely chopped ham along with the chicken to the soup.
Sliced mushrooms sautéed along with the vegetables are good.
Add the celery leaves to the soup for extra flavor.
Use a lot of black pepper.
Potatoes and other leftover root vegetables can be added to the soup.
If you use only chicken breasts add more butter and 3 to 4 teaspoons of dry chicken bouillon. Otherwise the soup will not have as much flavor.
Cream of chicken soup is made the same way only the broth is thickened with a roux and milk or cream is added. No noodles are used in the cream version.
Poultry seasoning or sage improves the flavor of the soup.