There are few things I love as much in the cold heart of winter as a bowl of chicken noodle soup. I’m most definitely not talking about the one in the can. I’m talking about soup in a rich, flavorful broth with chunks of roasted chicken, freshly chopped tender pieces of carrot and celery, bow-tie noodles soaking up the chicken taste and fresh parsley and thyme floating throughout the whole thing.
Sounds long and involved and exhausting, right? Well, usually that is right. What usually happens is that you start out with all great intentions and energy and a nice whole chicken. You toss it in the soup pot with some water and a prayer or two, and hours and days and weeks later you have a cooked chicken and some “broth.” But the chicken is a little rubbery from having boiled away for ages and I’m sorry, all the onion and carrots in the world have not been able to produce a nice rich broth — for me, anyway. It ends up watery and sad and you have to skim the top of it, and on and on and on.
It was time for something to be done. It’s our right to have a fantastic chicken soup that doesn’t require a nap and a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. So here’s what needs to happen. First of all, the foundation is the broth, and while pre-made chicken broth used to be a sad state of affairs, things have gotten a whole lot better lately. There are two brands that are actually EXCELLENT, and they both come in boxes that are stacked in the supermarket right next to those nasty cans of chicken broth. My fave is this one:
Although this one is pretty good as well:
don’tbe tempted by the canned broth – go for one of these guys.
Next, you need a bone-in split chicken breast. Put in in a baking pan, brush that baby with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and roast it for about 50 minutes. Meantime, chop up some carrots, some celery, an onion and some fresh parsley and thyme. If I have a leek on hand I’ll chop that up too. Once your chicken is roasted and cooled a little, the chicken soup is about 20 minutes away. Bring the broth to a nice simmer and drop in the veggies and some bow-tie pasta and simmer it covered until the veggies are tender and the pasta is cooked. While this is going on, take a fork (or your fingers, if you are me) and pull the roasted chicken off the bone into bite-sized pieces. Now toss the chicken pieces and the herbs into the soup and simmer for another few minutes until everything is all warm and perfect. Taste to see if you need to add in any salt or pepper…and that’s it, folks. You have now made the perfect chicken noodle soup. It will keep for several days and get better and better. If it gets too thick, pour in a little more broth and it will be just fine.
Doesn’t everything seem right with the world now?