For six years, I’ve feasted on a bowl of soup every day after school. I’d savor coming home and heating my homemade soup for five minutes in the microwave or on the stove. (Yes, I’m aware that it’s very hot, but my motto is if it’s not bubbling, then something isn’t right.)
I made a pot of homemade soup every Sunday, budgeting two hours in the kitchen into my schedule to get me through the school week. It was a time to destress, not think about all of the other work I had to get done and focus on cooking and — most importantly — the hot bowl of soup at the end. Cooking every weekend became a routine, but eating soup became an obsession. I’ve lost track of the number of times I specifically chose a restaurant because it had soup. I think I’ve tried at least 50 various chicken noodle soups nationwide. I just love soup and cooking it.
Here’s my recipe:
Chicken Noodle Soup
Start to finish: 2 hours (1 hour active)
1 full chicken (5-6 pounds), cut*
1½ tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
2 quarts (8 cups) water
4-5 bay leaves
3-5 heaping teaspoons kosher salt
5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped
5-7 celery ribs, chopped
4-5 teaspoons dried thyme or fresh sprigs
1 bag of wide egg noodles
Second large onion to be added with carrots and celery
Parsley for garnish
*Using a cleaver, cut the chicken up into eight pieces. Separate the breasts and put them into the fridge for later and chop the thighs, wings and legs in half and the backbone into 3-4 segments (wash the backbone first to take out the red bits). You can also buy pre-cut chicken parts, but make sure they are bone-in and skin-on.
In the bottom of a large pot over high heat, heat the oil. Once heated to a simmer, place the cut-up chicken — minus the breast — into the pot in a single layer. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook for about three-five minutes on one side, or until golden brown, then flip. Cook the other side until golden brown. Scrape the bottom as you go to prevent burning, but browning on the bottom is fine. When finished, remove the chicken from the pot and place it in a separate bowl.
In the same pot, place the diced onions in and cook until lightly browned for approximately five minutes.
Reincorporate the browned chicken and give it a quick mix. Then, cover the pot and reduce to low heat to let the onions and chicken sweat for 20 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, begin to boil two quarts of water in a separate pot. Check up on chicken and onions, and scrape to prevent burning if needed.
Once boiled, pour the water into the pot with the chicken and stir. Raise heat to medium or medium-high. Then, place the kosher salt, bay leaves — quick mix — and set-aside chicken breasts into the pot until submerged. Cover and simmer on medium to low heat for 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken breasts from the pot to cool in a separate bowl. Then, using a large pot, bowl and colander (I use two), strain the stock fully. Separate the stock and the strained materials.
Then, quickly rinse out the pot used to cook the stock, removing any remnants, and set it back on the stove.
Using the now-drained stock, take a spoon and skim off the fat that floated to the surface of the broth, which is about two to three tablespoons. Add the fat back into the pot and place over medium-low heat. Add the carrots and celery — and other onion if desired — and spread to an even layer. Heat, covered, for about 10 minutes. Watch out for burning.
After carrots are slightly soft, pour the stock into the pot and add thyme. Heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the chicken breasts using your hands or fork into smaller pieces.
After the chicken is torn, add the chicken breast and **egg noodles to the pot — I like a lot of noodles, so I place the whole bag, but half a bag will do if you like more broth. Warm on medium-high heat, covered.
Once the noodles are almost al dente, turn off the heat, stir, cover and let sit for five to 10 minutes to prevent overcooking.
Garnish with chopped parsley (optional) and serve!
**If you are not planning on eating all the soup right away, ladle the soup into a smaller pot and add the desired amount of noodles while leaving the other pot noodle-free. This is better for refrigeration of the remaining soup, but you can place all the noodles in and refrigerate everything together.