Old fashioned chicken noodle soup

I went on an amazing trip to Napa Valley last weekend. On the airplane home I caught a cold. And it was raining in Portland.

When I’m sick I want chicken noodle soup. The clear broth warms me to my bones, and the chicken and noodles leave me feeling satisfied. My mom would make it with homemade broth and egg noodles. Since I was diagnosed with celiac, I began making chicken and rice soups. It’s not the same. I needed noodles.

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This is my own old-fashioned chicken noodle soup recipe. Parsnips are a must for me. I literally won’t make this soup if I can’t find parsnips, so I was delighted to see that Fall vegetables have returned to the shelves of our local grocery store.

To make this soup you will need:

2 tbsp butter or olive oil (I prefer butter)

1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery

2 cloves minced garlic (optional)

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced thickly

1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced thickly (quartered at the end if it is large)

dried and/or fresh herbs, preferably thyme and oregano, to taste

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

8 oz Tinkyada rice pasta (I like the spirals)

8 cups chicken broth

½ cup to 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

juice from ½ a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice pasta according to package directions—except drain them 2 or 3 minutes early, so they are still a little firm. Run under cold water to stop the cooking and set them aside. Tinkyada can hold up in a soup, and for gluten free pasta that is a rare gift.

Melt the butter or warm the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery with a pinch of salt, stir to coat, and cook about 4 minutes or until the veggies are tender, but not very soft or browning. Add minced garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. (Side note: browning garlic can make it taste bitter—the goal is just to cook it gently so it loses its sharp bite.) Add broth and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add dried herbs. I usually add about 2 teaspoons to start and then keep adjusting to taste.

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I find that the chicken cooks quickly, but if you keep the temperature at a simmer it shouldn’t get tough. You can either add the chicken now, or after the carrots and parsnips. If you use pre-cooked chicken definitely wait to add it until after the vegetables are fully cooked. This time I added the chicken first and just waited about 2 minutes until I could tell it was cooking. Then I added the thickly sliced carrots, and after 2 minutes I added the parsnips. Parsnips cook a little more quickly than the carrots, so with this method they both came out tender but not mushy. They were probably done after the parsnips had been simmering for 5 minutes.

thickly sliced carrots

thickly sliced carrots

If you get foam gathering at the top, skim it off the surface with a spoon. I promise your soup will taste better without it. Once everything is just shy of done, add the pasta and stir. After 1 minute add the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot! I hope you find this as comforting and healing as I do.

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If you have a version of chicken soup that you love please share it in the comments. I promise to write more about the unforgettable dining experience I had in Napa in the coming weeks!

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