Um, well… how to start? I sort of slipped off the face of the Earth, didn’t I? Not the first time… and I’m sure not the last!
But, as I sit here in Boston… on this miserable winter day, after yet ANOTHER snow day… I knew that I just HAD to share this recipe with you as it is simply amazing.
I’ve been making this chicken stock for ages… the original recipe came from Martha Stewart and you can see it here. I prefer to improvise though… so this is my version. The rest of the soup was inspired by a meal we had our good friend’s house. It was this recipe by Paula Dean. If you told me before this soup that I would actually make and enjoy anything from Paula Dean — the annoying Queen of Fattening Food — I would have laughed it off. However, after trying the original version of this recipe, I just HAD to make it myself. This might actually be the BEST SOUP I EVER HAD. No joke.
1 whole chicken — skinned and cut into 8 pieces (I go to Whole Foods for this and have them do it for me. I actually have them toss the innards and the wings. I know, I know… a bit wasteful)
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp whole pepper corns
1 bay leaf
NOTE: I like to sometimes add slices of lemon or chopped lemon grass for a more lemony taste. In addition, I buy the carrots, celery and onion already chopped up from Whole Foods when I buy the chicken. A bit pricier but is saves an immense amount of time.
In a large stockpot, place the chicken and cover it with water. I like to cook my stock for a long time, so it reduces to a nice rich flavor, so I generally add water to about 2 inches below the top of the pot. Add the salt and bring the water to boil.
Boil until the chicken bones release most of the foam. Skim the foam from the top of the stock and then add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring back to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. If too much water is evaporating, cover the pot with a lid.
I literally let this simmer for hours. The smell is intoxicating. Whenever I’m ready to start cooking with the stock, I turn off the heat and place a large colander over another stockpot. I pour the soup through the colander, catching all the solids and place the stockpot with the broth back on the stove (with no heat).
NOTE: If too much water has evaporated, I have added as much as 4 or more cups back into the pot without affecting the taste or richness of the stock.
Now you have the most amazing chicken stock!
What to do with the solids? Well, I go through, pick all the chicken out and put it in a bowl. I then generally toss the veggies and pepper corns. They are practically mush by this point.
I use a fork to “pull and shred” all the meat off the chicken breasts. It tends to be a LOT — plenty for the stock. For the dark meat… like the thighs and the legs, I generally reserve all of that in a separate bowl for The Husband to make chicken salad. One, I’m a white breast meat girl and two, I don’t like chicken salad. So this works out well!
Once all the white meat is pulled and shredded, I generally slice it up a little with a knife and fork… just to make the pieces a bit smaller. Normally, this is all I do. We then use the stock to make various renditions of chicken soup… adding back the meat and other condiments (like lime, cilantro, bean sprouts, mung bean threads and Sriracha sauce for a Thai-inspired dinner).
This time, I was dying to try the soup our friends made… so this is MY version of Paula Deen’s soup. It’s less fattening and I adjusted the other ingredients a bit as well (based on what I had on hand):
The Best Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup EVAH
Entire portion of chicken stock from above recipe
Shredded and chopped chicken breast from above recipe
1 – 2 cups chopped carrots
1 – 2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
About 2 cups uncooked egg noodles (I had half a pkg of Trader Joe’s that I used… so it was probably a little less than 2 cups)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c light cream
1/2 c cooking sherry
2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Crusty bread for serving
Bring the stock back to a boil. Add the carrots, onions and celery and cook for a few minutes. Add the egg noodles, chicken, mushrooms, parsley, rosemary and sherry. Cook for a bit. Add the Parmesan and light cream. At this point, the soup is ready when the egg noodles are cooked and the veggies are tender. I actually let this simmer for hours. The only downside is that if you let it reach a boil, the cream will curdle. Not a big deal… tastes the same, the presentation just isn’t as pretty.
I plated this by sprinkling a little more Parmesan cheese on top, with some fresh ground pepper and some red Hawaiian sea salt.