Jan 11, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Mmm, Mmm, Good Chicken Noodle Soup

Everybody has their rendition of "perfect" chicken noodle soup.  Most of those venerable recipes have been passed down through the generations; they are made with love, replete with fat, pillow-soft noodles, big chunks of meat and vegetables, and a variety of herbs and seasonings.

But I actually like the chicken noodle soup that comes in a can with that familiar red label.

You know the one.  It's mmm, mmm, good.

Yeah, I really do like it - and I even indoctrinated all three of my children: they like the canned stuff, too. And I don't really care much for most homemade or homestyle chicken noodle soups.  Go ahead, call me crazy or taste-impaired (but just remember, Andy Warhol did an homage to the red label, so it's iconic if not healthy or particularly delicious.)

However, despite my junk-food-junkie tastes in soup, I do care about the amount of fat and sodium we eat. So I set out to make a healthier, homemade soup that tastes a lot like this without the sludgy layer of fat on top, or a lot of sodium swimming around the broth.
Admittedly, it's an odd goal to set out to make a food that tastes like canned stuff.  But if you - or your family - also likes the pop-a-top type chicken noodle soup, give this one a try.  Unless you load it up with salt and high-fat chicken stock, it's got a lot of good things going for it.  And it tastes good.  At least I think it does :-)

Mmm, Mmm Chicken Noodle Soup

1-2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced fine (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup carrots, diced fine
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or one clove, minced)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or poultry seasoning
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken meat
1 or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1/2 pound thin homemade or home-style noodles*

Directions: In a large Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, melt butter and saute onion, carrots and celery until softened.  Add garlic, seasonings, broth and chicken meat.   Allow to simmer (not boil) for about 20-30 minutes.  Add potatoes and continue simmering until potatoes are soft when speared with a fork.  Add more broth if necessary along with noodles and cook until noodles are tender. - the potatoes will continue to soften and may even break apart. That's okay, they are mainly for added texture in case your chicken broth is not particularly stock-y (mine is homemade without fat or sodium, so it's on the thin side, especially in comparison to chicken stock or  commercial broths.)

Add salt and pepper to taste just before serving. Makes 6 hearty bowls-ful. It's best the first time around, but still edible when reheated.

*About those noodles.  I like the fine/thin Amish noodles from Emmanhaus (see photo at right.)  But if you prefer, you can substitute broken pieces of linguine for noodles to approximate those oh-so-famous thin noodles.

Happy cooking,

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