Soup Warms the Soul
Winter is here and there is nothing better than a nice pot of warm soup. Veggies and meat in a clear broth with some egg noodles, orzo or lentils. A creamy potato soup or a chunky chili. Down jackets are great for the cold, but when the weather drops below 40, it’s time to break out the big pots and start cooking some liquid goodness that will warm us from the inside during the cold winter season!
The following is my go to classic chicken noodle soup recipe. It’s a combination of a traditional classic chicken noodle soup and the Jewish Penicillin soup that my husband's family loves. This soup is a great stand by meal to have on hand. It can be made in large pots and kept in the fridge for about 4 days, if it stays there that long. It can also be frozen into air tight containers or heavy duty freezer bags for longer storage. My father-in-law lives with us and while he will settle for a can of Campbell’s any day, it's nice to keep a heartier homemade variety on hand for him.
I used organic heritage carrots. I bought a bag of these at Costco and they come in 3 colors. I love these carrots! I sometimes chop them up and mix them into mashed potatoes to add a sneaky bit of extra vitamins and a streak of color.
I also typically only put half the chicken back into the soup and I save the rest to make chicken salad or tacos later in the week.
I used egg noodles, but you can use another pasta. Add matzoh balls or lentils or rice. You can change it up to suit your tastes.
This soup also makes a nice food gift for any friend who has been affected by the latest round of sicknesses spreading from child to child. Just be sure to drop it on the porch, ring the doorbell and run so that you don't need someone to make you your own batch.
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Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
- whole chicken, 4 lbs give or take
- 4 large carrots, peeled
- 4 stalks of celery, whole (including leaves)
- 1 yellow onion, sliced into two halves
- fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried parsley)
- fresh dill (or 1 Tbsp dried dill)
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper
- 8 oz. egg noodles
- Rinse and place chicken into a large stock pot. Breast side down. Cover with 4 quarts of water.
- Bring water to a boil over medium high heat. Periodically skim any foam and particles that come to the surface. This should take approximately 15 minutes. While skimming the top I try to leave as much of the fat circles as possible. If you place everything that you skim into a measuring cup you can see how much liquid you have removed. Replace that same amount with hot water when you are done skimming. It can be as much as 2 cups, although I have found the better quality organic chickens are usually considerably less.
- Add carrots, celery, onion, parsley and dill to the pot. Add salt and pepper to the water. I am generous with the salt. Bring pot back to a simmer.
- Place a lid on the pot and vent it slightly. Reduce heat to medium low so the soup is slowly simmering but not a rolling boil. The more bubbles that rise the cloudier the broth will be. Let the soup simmer this way for 90 minutes.
- Use tongs to carefully remove the full cooked chicken from the broth. It may fall apart in pieces. Place on a plate and let cool.
- Strain the broth into another pot through a strainer keeping the carrots and celery for later. Discard the herbs, onion and bay leaves.
- Taste the chicken broth and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- When the soup is cool, the fat will rise to the top and you can skim it off if you’d like. This is what is referred to as schmaltz and can be saved for later. I like to leave the fat. My grandmother insisted this was where the healing properties of the chicken soup were contained.
- Pull the meat from the chicken bones into bite-sized pieces and set aside
- Cut the celery and carrots into pieces. I like to chop them into small pieces, because it makes it harder for my kids to escape eating them. However, larger chunks are usually preferred.
- Reheat the broth to a rolling boil and add 8 oz. of egg noodles. Cook until the noodles are done.
Add the cooked vegetables and chicken back to the broth at the very end, until warmed through.