I love soup and make it at least once a week, if not more, in the cooler months. I didn’t grow up watching people make soup (other than open a can), so I thought it must be hard. Guess what I learned? It’s EASY to make! Seriously, it’s one of the easiest things to make in the kitchen, yet I growing up on canned soups I used to consider them a “staple” for the longest time!
Here’s a fun story to illustrate this: I teach preschool, and one day I asked all the kids to bring in a vegetable so we could make vegetable soup to go along with a book we were reading. I thought I was going to get just corn and potatoes, but they brought in carrots, broccoli, and squash. I added an onion, because everything just tastes better with onion. I cut up all the vegetables into uniform pieces, and the kids threw them in a pot of water. We added a couple of bouillon cubes and set it to cook on the stove. At least 5 different people in the building stopped by to ask what that delicious smell was! And it was AMAZINGLY flavorful and almost laughably easy and simple. Most of the kids loved it (one actually described it as “an explosion in my mouth of goodness”), although I had some vegetable haters, of course.
Lesson? If preschoolers can do it, we all can!
So, the first step is to make the broth/stock (or defrost it if you’re using already prepared broth, or *gasp* buy it). See my chicken broth recipe for step-by-step instructions. You want enough to fill a large pot, about 8 cups.
To make this really easy, I usually use cooked, leftover chicken that I add later, but you can start with uncooked chicken and add it to the broth to cook while you’re prepping the vegetables.
Grab an onion, some celery and carrots. Trim, peel and dice in pretty uniform pieces (you want things to fit on a soup spoon) and add to the broth. I also like to throw in a clove of minced garlic, which may be considered controversial – I think it adds nice flavor even though it’s not traditional.
Add the vegetables to the broth, bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes (if you’re cooking the chicken first, remove it from the broth first, let it cool and cut it into pieces while the vegetables are cooking).
Add the cooked chicken and noodles, and cook at a low boil until the noodles are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Remember, we started with homemade broth, so you will need enough salt to flavor the soup. I start with about a tablespoon, then taste to see if I need more. The great part about homemade is you can tailor it to your tastes and needs, as far as salt goes. We also like a lot of pepper, but some people find it too hot, so adjust as you like.
There it is – soup! It’s delicious and so easy, you’ll never go back to canned (it freezes great, too).
Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced (optional)
- 3-4 cups cooked chicken, cubed and/or shredded*
- 8 oz. egg noodles
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put the broth in a large soup pot and bring to a simmer over med-high heat.
- Add the vegetables, bring back to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.
- Add the noodles and chicken, bring back to a boil, and simmer 8-10 minutes or until the noodles are tender.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with some homemade bread.
*Note: To start with uncooked chicken, either saute boneless breasts in a pan or add them to the broth before the vegetables and cook thoroughly. When the chicken is cooked, allow to cool and then cut into pieces. Set aside to add with the noodles (adding it later helps retain the chicken flavor by not letting it boil out in the soup while the vegetables are cooking).[/recipe]