For me, homemade Chicken Noodle soup is the dish that embodies the spirit of ultimate winter comfort. It's hearty, filling, aromatic, and broth is wonderful for helping us get through the cold and flu season. Slow cooked on a Sunday afternoon, the rich scent of chicken and herbs brings us right back to our childhood and it's those memories as much as the meal itself that make this dish true comfort food.
When I make Chicken Noodle soup I go all out and make it just the way my mom used to when I was little. That means homemade broth, fresh vegetables, and handmade thick-cut egg noodles. Though you do need to set aside a good afternoon to make this recipe, it's fairly simple and you'll have enough to feed a small army by the end. Better yet, freeze the leftovers and reheat it on those days you just don't feel like cooking.
Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 10 servings
For the Broth
1 whole Chicken (please choose Free-Range :)
1/2 tsp whole Black Peppercorns
4 quarts Water
1 large Onion, chopped
3 large Carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2" pieces
3 sticks of Celery, chopped into 1/4" pieces (optional)
2 Chicken bouillon cubes (those come in Free-Range too :)
1 tsp dried Parsley
For the Egg Noodles
2 cups All-purpose flour
3 large Eggs
1 tsp Salt
1/3 cup water
1. Rinse your chicken and remove any sachets that might be in the inner cavity then in a deep soup pot bring your four quarts of water to a boil. Add your chicken and the neck (personally I don't use the giblets), and the peppercorns then reduce the heat to medium, and simmer your bird for about an hour.
2. Take the bird out of the liquid and set it on a plate to cool. Pour the liquid in the pan through a strainer to separate out the herbs and peppercorns then pour the liquid into a heat-proof bowl. Measure it and make sure there's at least three quarts if not more.
3. Begin making your egg noodles. Place your flour into a large bowl along with the salt. Whisk well and then make a well in the centre into which you'll pour the eggs. Mix in well then begin adding the water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough is stiff but able to be easily rolled.
4. Dust a work surface in flour and roll out your dough into a 1/8-1/4" thickness depending on your preference. Thicker noodles need longer to cook and so there's a higher risk of burning the contents at the bottom of the pan so if you're unsure, try to go as thin as you can.
5. To make cutting your noodles a breeze, use a pizza cutter. I like big noodles so I cut mine to be around an inch wide and six inches long. Go as thin or thick as you'd like but again, consider that thicker noodles will take a bit longer to cook. Leave the noodles on the counter until they're needed again but consider covering them with a kitchen towel to keep clean.
6. Heat about a teaspoon of oil in your large pot then add the onions and cook until soft. Add the carrots and celery then pour your reserved broth liquid in along with the bouillon cubes and parsley. Gently heat to a simmer and cook until the carrots are cooked most of the way through. While you're waiting, you can get to work on stripping the chicken. Discard all the bones and skin and shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Place the chicken meat in a bowl and set aside.
7. When your carrots are about three quarters the way cooked start adding your egg noodles one by one into the pot. If you add more than one at a time they can stick together so don't do that. Stir the pot occasionally to make sure that the liquid coats all the noodles before adding more. Once all the noodles are in the pot, simmer on med-low until they're cooked through. I'm not going to give you a specific time here since it's entirely dependent on how thick your noodles are. As a rough estimate, my own sized noodles take about twenty minutes. You can check the progress by pulling a random noodle out and cutting it open to see the centre. Also, make sure to keep stirring so that nothing settles at the bottom and burns.
8. When the noodles are cooked, take the pot off the heat and add the chicken meat back in. Leave the soup to set a few minutes before serving. Putting the chicken in after most of the cooking is finished ensures that the pieces will stay large and firm.
9. This is one of those recipes that's delicious on the first day but AMAZING on the second. Refrigerate enough for a meal the next day and freeze the rest if you have any leftover. The best way to reheat this dish once frozen is in a casserole dish in the oven.
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