Hello everyone. This issue and recipe should serve as a follow-up to last week’s ALL ABOUT CHICKEN. The butchery and broth discussed in that newsletter should be your first steps in creating this chicken noodle soup recipe. If you have not yet read last week’s newsletter, please check it out.
Chicken noodle soup is a classic—for good reason. Sometimes I think about chicken noodle soup the same way I think about pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still pizza. Whether it’s from your grandmother, Eat-n-Park, or a can, it’s still chicken noodle soup. It can be so comforting. It’s one of those things that makes you close your eyes and smile when you eat it. That's why I think it’s worth taking a little extra time and a few more steps to make it as good as it can be.
Many soup recipes are about simplicity—keep it all in one pot and cook it all together. But that simplicity can come at the expense of depth of flavor; everything in the pot ends up tasting the same. Trying to eat this kind of boring, one-dimensional soup induces what I call “soup fatigue.” When it comes to making soup, I like to break down the elements and let them be themselves. That is especially important for a good chicken soup.
CHICKEN. In my years of cooking chicken for soup, I have tried nearly every method and have found that I like poaching the best. It’s very easy to control, making it harder to overcook the chicken. The chicken flavors the broth, and the broth flavors the chicken. And I like keeping it all in the soup family. When poaching chicken parts, don’t boil the broth. It should be on a low simmer—bubbling here and there. Boiling the chicken will stress it out which can make it dry. Additionally, poach the white meat and dark meat separately. I do this because they have different cooking times, and I prefer to do it in batches. If you can trust yourself to remember that you need to pull out the breasts a few minutes before the legs, go ahead and cook it all together. It’s also important to cook the chicken the whole way through when poaching, if it’s under 155 degrees when you pull it out, it will be difficult to remove the meat from the bones.
VEGETABLES. After sweating your vegetables for a few minutes, season them with salt. When testing for doneness, they should be al dente. The carrot shouldn’t be mushy. It should have a little give but still let you know that it is a carrot, and it is a proud member of this soup. The same goes for the celery. This soup is a happy family made up of free-thinking individuals.
NOODLES. I love to make homemade pasta for chicken noodle soup. This is my favorite pasta recipe. You are welcome to use whatever noodle will make you happiest, but please cook it in a separate pot of heavily salted boiling water. I use 1 tbsp. of salt for every 2 cups of water. Again, you want the pasta to be its own thing and bring its full potential to the finished product. If you under-season your noodles, it will pull salt out of the broth and ultimately make for an unbalanced soup. Similarly, if you under-cook your noodles, or try to cook them in the soup, the pasta will absorb the broth and then that liquid that you worked so hard for will end up in the noodles and not on your spoon and this becomes an unintentional chicken noodle casserole.
BROTH. Make this broth the day before you intend to make the soup. I recommend really taking the entire 12 hours to simmer. To be honest, I would really hate for you to use canned broth, so please don’t.
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
4 Quarts chicken broth
1 Whole chicken, butchered and seasoned
2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
5-8 Carrots, depending on the size
1 Bunch celery ribs
1 lb. pasta of your choice
Dill, parsley, and black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 tsp. white vinegar
In a Dutch oven or stock pot, bring broth to a low simmer. Place chicken legs in, and simmer until fully cooked. Remove the legs from the broth, and do the same with the breast. Remove the breasts when cooked, and place all the poached chicken in the refrigerator to cool. Strain the broth into a separate container and set aside.
In the same pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low until the oil shimmers and easily coats the pot. Place the carrots and celery in and sweat them for 5 minutes, salt the vegetables with a tablespoon of kosher salt and continue to cook them until they become tender. Turn the burner off.
Take the cooled chicken out of the refrigerator and pull the meat into spoon-size pieces, discarding the skin and bones. Add the pulled chicken to the pot with the vegetables and fill the pot with broth until everything is submerged. Turn the burner to low. Meanwhile in a separate pot, cook your pasta in heavily salted water. When the pasta is cooked through, strain it out, and add it to the soup. You may need to add more broth at this point. Taste the soup and add more salt if needed. Chop a liberal amount of dill and parsley and add it to the soup along with some fresh-cracked pepper. Finally, add the juice of half a lemon or a half teaspoon of white vinegar. This will wake up and give balance to all the flavors in the soup. Keep in the fridge for 5 days or freezer for 3 months.
DO AHEAD. The chicken should be seasoned for 24 hours before being poached. Chicken can be poached & pulled the day before and stored in broth in the refrigerator. Broth can be made up for 4 days ahead.
A TIP. If upon cooling, the soup develops a layer of fat, that is GOOD. Don’t scrape it off. Just add the fat into the pot and let it melt back into the soup. It’s good for you.
Happy Monday All. I had a lovely weekend and I hope you did too. This week I hope you get a free tank of gas and see a rainbow and I hope your mother-in-law gives you a nice compliment and you find ten dollars in your fall clothes. I’ll be back in your inbox in two weeks with a new recipe that is yet to be determined but I have a feeling it will involve fire. Make some chicken noodle soup this week and share it with your friends and neighbors! And mothers-in-law.
Love you much
What is the oldest thing in your refrigerator?
Please answer in the comments.
It is probably a condiment, and my husband will probably be disappointed in me about it. Adulting is hard, okay?!
It's one of these two: an XL tub of miso that has survived at least two moves and is still perfectly delicious, or an original can of Four Loko that my husband will not fucking let go.