Slow Cooker · Soup & Broth

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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Good chicken soup is brown, not yellow.

Your grandmother was right! Chicken noodle soup really is good for what ails you! I’m sick this week. Adenovirus, if I’m right (of course I am). I won’t bore you with the details, for fear that I’ll ruin your appetite. I don’t want chicken soup today, I need it. I’m not a fan of that colored salt water that passes for canned chicken soup, so I’m making my own. Luckily, I hadn’t even gotten around to putting the slow cooker away from the Pork Tenderloin Carnitas I made on Sunday. And thanks to my wonderful Chief Tester/better half and HannafordToGo, I am now in possession of some chicken. You’re welcome, fellow grocery shoppers, for not venturing out in public & passing these germs along to you!

Back in the day, Western medicine spent a lot of time and energy pooh-poohing what they scornfully referred to as “old wives’ tales”  This isn’t a political blog, so I won’t talk about the inherent sexism, ethnocentrism, & hubris of that attitude. Oops. I guess I just did, a bit. But it’s a source of endless amusement for me, watching as researchers “discover” remedies that grandmothers and “alternative medicine” have  used for centuries. Yes, some of these have been thoroughly debunked once researched. That’s okay; it’s fine to abandon home remedies that have been proven ineffective, the operative word being “proven.” So now we know that there is real benefit to chicken noodle soup. And honey for coughs & sore throats. And leeches, and maggots. If you’re interested in this stuff, I highly recommend Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, by Robert S. & Michele M. Root-Bernstein. I found it fascinating. 

 

 

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Sorry, back to the soup. I like to cook the broth with a little celery & carrot, then add some fresh when I make the soup from the finished broth. The best way to do this without waste is to chop the veggies you’ll use for the soup, & refrigerate them until needed. Then you can use the celery tops & carrot trimmings in the broth. In fact, whenever I trim celery & carrots for other things, I like to toss the trimmings in the freezer to save them for my next batch of soup. 

The first time I tried making chicken noodle soup, I thought I din’t get the seasoning quite right. The next several times I tried more and/or different seasonings, but just wasn’t happy. Then one day, when I was sick & so not at my best, I actually forgot to add most of the seasonings. Best mistake I ever made! When you’re making the good stuff, the broth tastes of real chicken. It doesn’t need to be covered up by a lot of herbs & spices. A little salt & pepper, onion & garlic, & get the heck out of the way to let the main ingredient shine! 

My favorite slow cooker recipes to make are those that require no pre-preparation. Just throw some stuff in the pot, turn it on, & come back in several hours to dinner. There are a few dishes, however, that are so much better with some pre-cooking that it’s well worth the extra time & energy. This is one. Park your chicken in a roasting pan, pop it in a pre-heated oven, & roast for an hour before adding it to the slow cooker pot. Then brown the pan drippings, and you will be rewarded with the richest, tastiest broth you’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. I’m not including nutrition information, because each batch is a bit different. How much chicken you use, how meaty it is, etc., all can change the nutritional makeup and quantity of your soup. So just roll with it, knowing that what you’re eating is in fact good for you! (Printable recipe at the bottom of this page. )

French Honey Bread goes particularly well with Chicken Noodle Soup.

Ingredients:

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5-6 pounds of meaty chicken wings

1 onion, peeled

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 bay leaf

2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns

1 tsp salt

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

Preparation:

1.) Preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange wings in a single layer in large roasting pan. Tuck the onion & garlic clove among the wings. Pop the pan in the oven, reduce heat to 375°F, and roast for one hour or until the chicken and its drippings are a nice golden brown.

2.) Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the chicken, onion, and garlic  into the crock pot. Add the celery & carrot trimmings, and the salt, peppercorns & bay.

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3.) Heat some water; set aside & keep warm. Put your roasting pan on the stovetop (only if your pan is stove-top friendly, of course) on medium-high. Use a flat-edge wooden spoon or spatula to keep the drippings pushed toward the hot spot, so that they all have a chance to brown. My mom always said, when browning drippings, keep going until one second before it burns. The point being, you watch very closely, and let the drippings get as dark brown as you dare. My first few times, I quit too soon. That’s okay, it’s better than burnt, right? The more often I did it, the darker I dared, until now I let it get really, really dark. When you’ve reached that spot, turn the heat down, stand back a bit, and add some of the hot water. (Sure, you could use cold, but you might warp your pan.) Stir, scraping the bottom, until you’ve dissolved all the lovely brownings.

Pour it all into the crock pot. Add as much more water as needed to just cover the chicken. I had a teeny carrot from my garden, wasn’t big enough to bother eating, so I just threw it in on top of everything else. Cook on low at least 10-12 hours. Overnight is good, if you can sleep with all that phenomenal aroma.

4.) When you’re done, strain the broth into a large pot, reserving the solids separately. Let the solids cool a while, then sort out the usable pieces of chicken and discard the rest.

I always have a “helper” during this step. Willie likes to be available, just in case I drop something. He’s so cute!

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5.) Your broth is going to be so flavorful that you won’t miss the chicken fat, so we’re going to get rid of it. There are 2 ways, both work equally well. If you’re making soup right away, you can use a fat separator like mine. You can make one yourself, if you let the broth cool enough to handle. Just pour it into a heavy duty zip top bag, and have your pot & a spare bowl or the sink handy. Hold the bag (or prop it in a bowl) long enough for most of the fat to rise to the top. Hold it over your pot, and snip a bottom corner. Let all the broth drain into the pot, pinch off the bag when there’s nothing but fat left.

If you’re not using your broth right away, pop the pot in the fridge. The fat will rise to the top & congeal. Your broth will also have thickened, & look will look like brown jello. Then you can just scrape the fat off the top.

6.) Once you’ve de-fatted, you can proceed to the last steps. Bring your broth to a boil, and cook until you have it at your preferred strength (only once or twice have I been able to skip this step because the broth wasn’t too thin.) While it’s boiling off its excess water, chop some celery & carrots (if you haven’t already), and the reserved chicken.

 

7.) When the broth is just the way you want it, throw in the chopped veggies, chicken, & a handful of noodles. Remember that the noodles will about double in bulk once cooked, so don’t add too many. Reduce heat, & cook until the noodles are done. Serve with crackers or homemade bread.

cns-19-with-bread

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients


5-6 pounds of meaty chicken wings
1 onion, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp kosher salt
2 carrots
2 stalks celery

Directions


1.) Preheat oven to 450°F. Arrange wings in a single layer in large roasting pan. Tuck the onion & garlic clove among the wings. Pop the pan in oven, reduce heat to 350°F, and roast for one hour or until the chicken and its drippings are a nice golden brown.
2.) Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the chicken, onion, and garlic  into the crock pot. Add the celery & carrot trimmings, and the salt, peppercorns & bay.
3.) Heat some water; set aside & keep warm. Put your roasting pan on the stovetop (only if your pan is stove-top friendly, of course) on medium-high. Use a flat-edge wooden spoon or spatula to keep the drippings pushed toward the hot spot, so that they all have a chance to brown. Watch very closely, and let the drippings get as dark brown as you dare.  When you’ve reached that spot, turn the heat down, stand back a bit, and add some of the hot water. Stir, scraping the bottom, until you’ve dissolved all the lovely brownings, then pour it all into the crock pot. Add as much more water as needed to just cover the chicken. Cook on low at least 10-12 hours.
4.) When you’re done, strain the broth into a large pot, reserving the solids separately. Let the solids cool a while, then sort out the usable pieces of chicken and discard the rest.
5.) Skim the fat from the broth.
6.) Bring your broth to a boil, and cook until you have it at your preferred strength. While it’s boiling off its excess water, chop some celery & carrots (if you haven’t already), and the reserved chicken.
7.) When the broth is just the way you want it, throw in the chopped veggies, chicken, & a handful of noodles. Remember that the noodles will about double in bulk once cooked, so don’t add too many. Reduce heat, & cook until the noodles are done.

5 thoughts on “Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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