I never realized how much I love to cook until this past week when an evil cold/flu took hold of me and I was couch bound for days, with no appetite and zero energy. Not quite sure what the family lived on for the week. All I know is that I didn’t make any of it! But despite my constant feeling of yuckiness, food was still on my mind. The Cooking Channel, decongestants and tissues were my constant companions. I was bookmarking and printing out recipes like crazy even though I could do little more than nibble on dry toast and crackers.
Finally on day six, I cracked. The kitchen, it was a callin’
I knew I had to keep things simple as I was operating at about 75% capacity. And what could be more appropriate to the occasion than my chicken soup? Involves roughly 5 minutes of prep time, almost 3 hours of simmering and in the end: a rich golden broth that heals whatever ails you. Of course you can finish the soup with anything: orzo, rice, carrots, spinach, etc. Really this isn’t a recipe as much as it is a technique, so it’s important to read the directions on this one.
As for my “Miracle Cure” claim, let’s just say that I had this soup for dinner, slept through the night for the first time in a week, and woke up feeling like a human being. Coincidence? I think not!
Mama Baker’s “Miracle Cure” Chicken Noodle Soup
1 chicken, cut up, about 4 pounds (throw in necks and backs as well)
2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions (skins may be included)
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots (peeled or unpeeled)
1 cup coarsely chopped celery (leaves may be included)
4 quarts water, or more to cover
Few sprigs parsley
About 1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
Kosher salt to taste
Dried egg noodles
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Place chicken, onions, carrots, celery, water, parsley, peppercorns and about a tablespoon of salt in a large stockpot and carefully bring to a boil, skimming any solids that rise to the top. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 to 45 minutes. Carefully remove breasts and thighs (if dark meat is desired) from pot to a baking dish. Keeping the chicken pieces in the baking dish, remove fat and discard. Then cut or shred with a fork, all meat away from bones. Place meat in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Return bones and accumulated juices to pot and continue to simmer SLOWLY for an additional 2 hours, or until stock has reduced slightly and is a rich golden color.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer bones and vegetables to a baking dish, being careful not to remove too much liquid. Place a large, fine-meshed strainer over another pot or large bowl. Line strainer with cheesecloth that has been rinsed in cold water (this will produce a very clear broth). Carefully pour chicken broth through strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much broth as possible. Using a spoon, skim off any fat that rises to the top or, alternatively, ladle broth into a de-greasing cup to remove fat < SEE MAKE AHEAD TIP BELOW>
Return broth to the stove and bring to a boil over high heat. As broth comes to a boil, taste and add Kosher salt to your liking. Don’t be shy about adding additional Kosher salt! It will bring out the flavor of the chicken. After broth comes to a boil, add about 4 handfuls of egg noodles and cook just until noodles are tender (approximately 10 minutes). Reduce heat; return chicken meat to pot and heat through. Taste for seasoning. Place soup in bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
MAKE AHEAD: Store broth and chicken meat separately in the fridge. Any fat in the broth will rise to the top and solidify, making it very easy to remove with a spoon. Reheat and add chicken and noodles just before serving.