Today is National Noodle Day. Noodles have been around since the beginning of time. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but in China an earthenware bowl containing some well preserved noodles has been dated to 4,000 years old. Wow, that’s some old noodles!
This is one of those wonderful soups that can be made from left over stewed chicken or started completely from scratch, whatever you happen to have on hand that works best for you. The chicken stock filled with tender carrots, onions and celery can be made several days in advance or the night before, whatever your busy schedule will allow. Although you could make the stock in the morning for the soup that night, it’s really best to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to skim off the layer of fat that will rise to the top as the stock cools.
I like to make my chicken and its soup broth on a lazy Sunday afternoon while puttering about the house, then finish the soup later in the week for a quick yet satisfying mid-week supper. By making the base for the soup in advance, in the time it takes to boil a pot of water and cook up the egg noodles, I can serve up piping hot bowls of soup to warm our weary bones at the end of a long day. I love soup weather and try to make a different soup at least one night each week throughout the fall and winter months. It’s especially nice to finally be able to put one of my beautiful soup tureens to good use. After months of hunting, Hubby and I found two wonderful tureens over the summer at our favorite monthly antique fair. They are both beautiful, one with a matching ladle and platter, the other without. Fortunately, I found the perfect silver soup ladle at another fair that fits the tureen like a glove. You would think they were made for each other. Up until recently, I alternated between the two tureens. Now I have only the one, with the platter. The other (featured here) I gave to my sister, another avid soup maker.
The fact that the chicken for this yummy homemade soup is slow cooked for several hours, skin, bones and all, only amplifies the wonderful flavors of the stock itself. It’s the same basic recipe I use for making my Chicken and Herb Dumplings (another chilly night favorite – a recipe for sharing on another day). The only real difference here is that my soup is made with a little more celery and carrots.
1 Chicken, 3 ½ – 4 lbs
3 Celery Stocks, Chopped
1 1/2 Cup Baby Carrots
1 Red, Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, cored and cut into strips
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Bay Leaf
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
½ Teaspoon Ground Pepper
2 Cups Chicken broth (or stock for really intense flavor) + water
2 Cups Wide Egg Noodles
Chop celery, carrots, bell pepper, onion and garlic according to recipe. Set aside until ready to use.
Place whole chicken, breast side up, in a large pot. Distribute vegetables and seasonings evenly around and over chicken. Add Chicken broth or stock and enough water to cover chicken three-quarters of the way up. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, about 2 hours. Midway through, turn chicken breast side down to allow juices to flavor the meat.
Remove chicken from pot. With a large fork and tongs, remove all the skin from the chicken and discard. Cut the meat from bones, discard carcass. Cut chicken meat in to large chunks. Set aside.
With a slotted spoon, remove all the vegetables from the pot, leaving only the broth. Fish bay leaf from vegetables, then mix with chicken meat and place in a gallon food storage bag. Lay flat in the refrigerator.
Pour broth into a large container fitted with a lid. Place in the refrigerator over night. As the broth cools, the fat from the chicken will float to the surface and harden. Skim off this layer of fat as much as possible before proceeding.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm broth with chicken and vegetable mixture. While the main “stock” of the soup warms, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Cook egg noodles in salted water about 8 minutes, or until tender.
Drain noodles well, add to “stock” and stir. Ladle soup into large bowls and serve with plenty of warm bread.