Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

A few years back my mother-in-law and I attended a little mini soup making class. It was super fun and I learned a heck of a lot in a short amount of time. Ever since then soup really has been my favorite thing to make. First, (I am sure you know what I am going to say now) it is a dump it all in the pot kind of meal which I love! Second, it is super easy to make and third there are so many combinations to make that I don't ever get sick of it! I guess I should also add that it makes a huge portion so we have leftovers and some for the freezer and it is usually very healthy without changing too much.

So are you ready for "Soup Making 101?"

Almost EVERY soup begins with these three vegetables. They have some french name I can't remember. Even cream based soups, which I don't make too much anymore, but they are hiding in there! I usually chop up 2-3 carrots, 1 onion, and 2-3 stalks of celery. You will dice this very finely or chop it in a food processor. For chicken noodle I doubled that amount. I kept half of them just like this and the other half went into the mini food processor.

Don't fill yours this full! I always think I am going to save time and it never does. I end up taking some out so it can chop better!

I usually chop the carrots, celery, and onion separately but this time it all went in together with a couple cloves of garlic, minced. Toss the processed veggies in a big pot with about 2 tablespoons butter or butter alternative. I think I used Earth Balance. What you will do now is "sweat" the vegetables over low heat. This is a very important step and I do it with every soup I make. Sweating the veggies brings out their flavor and begins to release their sugars. I found this helpful information to better explain what I learned at that soup class.
Sweating vegetables is the first step in building layers of flavor in many dishes. It is crucial in soups, sauces, braised dishes and stews. Cooking the vegetables in this way draws out excess moisture, concentrating the flavors. It also allows those initial key aromatics to slowly develop their sugars. As they cook, the flavors marry as they begin to get to know each other in the pot. Sweating is a simple step that only adds a few minutes of cook time and yields far better results than if the vegetables were added raw with all of the other ingredients.

I must say that the above statement is absolutely true! It does yield far better results. You will sweat the veggies like this for about 5 minutes. You do not want to caramelize them so stop if you see they are starting to turn brown.

Next you need to add your liquid to the pot. You can definitely use vegetable stock if you want to make a vegetarian soup but for chicken noodle it has to be this! Dump the whole 32 ounce carton in. Yep, the whole carton! Trust me it will be much more flavorful. I also then add about 6 cups of water and added my non-diced veggies.

Then add 2 heaping tablespoons of this magic ingredient! I do mean MAGIC! You cannot substitute bouillon cubes. Like the jar says it is "Better Than Bouillon." I learned about this secret at the class. I am completely giving out my secret to good soup and it hurts a little! But for the sake of healthy food in your mouth I can do it! I am not sure what to tell you about making it vegetarian. I can't make soup without this. I guess I will start looking for a vegetarian alternative. I don't ever eat any kind of canned soup anymore because this ingredient changed the way every bite tastes! Do you understand what I mean now? Have I said enough?

While those ingredients are simmering over medium heat I cooked my chicken up. I used about 3 medium chicken breast but 2 large ones would be fine. I diced them up and cooked them in a little olive oil and garlic in a pan. I didn't take a picture in order to spare my vegan friend Jenny this time. You should check out her blog even if you aren't vegan because she has some awesome ideas! Right now she is doing a cookbook give away that I would love to win! Click here if you want to see about the giveaway and her latest pictures of her awesomely organized fridge!

So finally people are getting on board with whole wheat egg noodles! I haven't made chicken noodles soup in a while because these have been hard to find. Surprisingly the Wal-Mart brand is the one that had the least amount of ingredients so I picked that one. I cooked about 1/2 the bag for the soup. Note: you will want to undercook the noodles a little since they will go into the pot and continue to cook there as will the chicken so don't over cook that either.

When your chicken and noodles are cooked then dump them into the pot and stir. I then added a tablespoon of chopped basil and about a teaspoon of oregano and black pepper. Give it some time to simmer on the stove over low heat so the flavors have a chance to blend. Give it a taste after about 20 minutes. Sometimes I add more chicken base at this point to taste. The flavors will be even better the next day! I hardly ever add extra salt in case you were wondering. In fact I usually buy the reduced sodium broth or stock because soup can get really salty if you aren't careful. You can always add a touch if you find it needs it later.

Serve yourself up a warm bowl of hearty goodness!

and perhaps a side salad and my homemade whole wheat oatmeal bread!
(See below for the recipe)

This was delicious for dinner last night and lunch today on this crisp Sunday afternoon! Happy Soup Making!

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Quick Bread

1 cup rolled oats
1 ½  cups whole wheat flour + more to form dough
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grind oatmeal in a food processor or blender. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, dissolve honey in vegetable oil then stir in the milk.
Combine both mixtures and stir. Add more flour if needed until a soft dough is formed. Knead a little bit in the bowl. Form the dough into a ball or small rectangle and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
3. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it!! I just posted my veggie soup recipe too!!!