The other day I had a craving for chicken noodle soup. Craving might be too strong a word, but I really wanted some soup. In the past few years I have sworn off canned soup. Some of it is philosophic – have you seen the grocery store soup aisle? There are way too many kinds of soup: regular, lite, low sodium, low fat, low carb, bold flavor, extra chunky. It is kind of nuts that we, as a society, have a need for so many kinds of canned salty water with mushy noodles. What does that say about us? Not anything good, I can tell you.
My soup angst aside, I just haven’t enjoyed canned soup in the last few years. Maybe it is my changing tastes, but they all taste too salty, too much of the can and just not right.
I have tried making my own chicken noodle soup many times, but I just wasn’t happy with it. Sure, I have favorite recipes for vegetable soup, chili and bacon turkey chowder, but I didn’t have a chicken noodle soup I was happy with. Until now.
The secret, at least to us, was finding a commercial broth that we liked. I have made my own chicken stock, and it was sublime. But I don’t have the time or the inclination to make my own broth very often. Nor do I have the freezer space to store a ready supply.
I don’t usually tout specific brands on the blog, but I do have to call out Kitchen Basics. I have only tried their unsalted chicken stock, but it was the most flavorful, most chicken-y broth I have found. No weird ingredients either. And it has no added salt, so I can salt my dishes to my own tastes. Gold stars all around. And this is a totally unbiased opinion – I received no compensation from Kitchen Basics for this post. I just like their product.
Once I found a good broth, it was just a matter of including the vegetables I like the best in chicken soup. I started with shallots – every soup needs either shallots or onions. Next, I added a lot of celery because I love celery in soup, and because I love the aroma of sautéing celery. I added carrots, of course. They belong in chicken soup. I finished with a little garlic to round things out.
The noodles are kind of a no-brainer. Pick the shape you like the best. We have discovered (we have eaten a lot of chicken soup lately) that we prefer small noodles that are less likely to flop off our spoons or send hot soup dribbles down our chins.
Now to the chicken. I like to make extra chicken any time we are having roast chicken for dinner. Then I dice it up and freeze it in one or two cup portions. It is perfect to pull out and add to chicken soup, stir fries, fried rice, pasta or pizza. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can buy a rotisserie chicken, or have chicken one night and chicken soup the next, with the leftover chicken.
Our soup was everything I wanted in a soup – flavorful broth that tasted of chicken and vegetables instead of salt, exactly the vegetables we wanted, perfectly shaped noodles and real white meat chicken.
Throw the cans to the curb (in the recycling bin, of course) and whip up your own chicken noodle soup. You won’t be sorry.
Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
From The Cook’s Life
Your broth determines if your soup is just good or excellent. Make sure you use a tasty broth, either homemade or commercial. I like Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken stock. I like a lot of vegetables – if you like more broth, use the smaller amount of celery and carrot.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, minced
3-4 ribs celery, diced
3-4 carrots, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups low salt or unsalted chicken broth (see headnote)
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup small noodles, I used radiatori
1-2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart pot over medium heat until shimmering.
Add shallot or onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until slightly browned and tender, lower heat if they are browning too much.
Add garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Add chicken broth. Cover pot and bring it to a boil over high heat.
Once broth boils, lower the heat so the soup is boiling gently and cook for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Taste broth and add salt and pepper to taste.
Add noodles and boil, covered, until they are al dente.
Lower heat to low and add chicken. Heat just until chicken is hot. Serve hot.
Leftovers keep well, though you may need to add a little water – the soup thickens and the noodles tend to absorb the broth.