Sunday, January 1, 2017

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Anyone who has been to my home knows that my pantry, freezer and refrigerator are stocked and ready to entertain a pop-up army of guests.  Being that items in my fridge are perishable, at least one time in a week I find myself with a license to be creative.  Several months ago, I opened the refrigerator and saw a half-filled gallon container of whole milk.  I don't remember ever buying a gallon of whole milk, let alone using half of it. Since the expiration date was fast approaching, I knew it was going to be the base for whatever I ultimately made that day.  My refrigerator scavenger hunt turned up a half of a rotisserie chicken, several pathetic looking skinny carrots and a few stalks of celery.  Before I knew it, I had a huge pot of Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup simmering on the stove.

It turned out to be one of those days that several friends dropped by. One of my good friends and contractor extraordinaire, Gordon, was there tending to a few projects in the house.  Around lunch time, I poured him a big bowl to get his opinion. Let’s just say by the end of the day, there were no leftovers.  I knew I had a "Most Requested" on my hands. 

When I recreated the soup for the office holiday party at my home, my Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup was the hit of the party. Although there were many choices for everyone to take a "leftover container," the Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup was not only the most requested item, but also "My Most Requested Recipe."  Not since introducing my recipe for Bacon Candy  did a dish cause so much interest.

I've been making chicken soup my entire adult life.  I always used my mother's recipe, Mama Marko's Chicken Matzo Ball Soup.  Most of the flavor in my homemade broth comes from cooking the entire chicken...including the bones and skin.  With my hectic schedule, these days I often find myself cutting corners, so I use containers of prepared broth.  Sometimes I use the meat from a rotisserie chicken I get at the market.  For the chicken, today I poached boneless chicken breasts in a small amount of salted water to provide the meat for the soup.  Even though I add the remaining water that the chicken poached in to the soup, it adds little actual flavor.  When I do not cook the broth myself, I always add chicken base or bouillon cubes to add more flavor to the soup.  Below is a picture of my favorite chicken base.

§     2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
§     1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
§     1/2 cup all-purpose flour
§     1 cup onion, chopped
§     8 cups (2 containers) chicken broth
§     2 cups celery, chopped
§     2 cups carrots, sliced into coins
§     1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
§     2 cups frozen peas
§     2 cups frozen corn
§     2 cups whole milk or half and half
§     Kosher salt and pepper to taste (I used 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper)
§     1 tablespoon chicken base or bouillon cube
§     2 heaping cups of medium egg noodles


In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter.  Add the chopped onions and sauté, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent.

Stir in flour and cook, stirring for about 2 – 3 minutes to cook out the raw taste of the flour but not long enough to brown the flour.

Pour in 4 cups of broth (1 container) and whisk constantly until the soup begins to thicken.  Add the remaining broth, celery, carrots, chicken base, salt and pepper.  Allow the soup to simmer for a few minutes until the celery and carrots soften.  Add the peas, corn and half and half and bring back up to a simmer.

Add the cooked chicken. 

In a separate pot cook 2 heaping cups of noodles using directions on the package.  Once the noodles are soft, add them to the soup.  Cook the soup for approximately 20 minutes allowing the flavors to marry.

This soup can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months, but keep in mind….noodles will continue to absorb liquid, so unless you enjoy eating very thick soup, you may need to add chicken broth when rewarming the soup to thin it down. 
For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup. Enjoy!