I am currently watching football, snow has recently fallen, and I am cuddled up on the couch with my fiancé. This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting for - soup weather! When it’s 60 degrees outside on Christmas, I don’t really get a craving for soup. But on a frigid January night, soup sounds just about perfect. Chicken Noodle Soup to be exact.
This is a hotly debated topic as everyone will claim that their mom makes the best soup. My mom makes a lot of soup very well; Turkey Noodle, Navy Bean and Taco are some of my favorites. Soup is a very versatile dish in that almost infinite things can be combined into a soup. Some leftover veggies, a couple of extra chicken breasts and homemade stock can turn these humble ingredients into something really extraordinary and totally satisfying. I am going to share with you my recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup, but first, you need to know how to make stock.
Homemade stock is one of the least utilized and completely underrated ingredients a home cook can use. Notice I said stock and not bone broth. Bone broth is a fallacy and merely a trick to try to charge people more money for the same product. Stock is made from bones and broth is made from meat. Therefore what’s most likely lurking inside that carton of “bone broth” is merely chicken stock that has a new label and a higher price tag.
Homemade stock is extremely easy to make although it does take some time. The trick is to make it in really big batches and use what you need and freeze the rest. We always have at least one kind of stock in the freezer in containers of various sizes to utilize in different recipes. Let’s talk about the process.
So to make what is called a brown chicken stock, the chicken bones must be roasted. Then what we call mirepoix is added to the pot. Mirepoix consists of two parts onion, one part carrot, and one part celery. For our purposes here, I am not concerned with the ratio as long as they are all in the pot. Here’s where you can get a little creative. I keep my stock more on the traditional side and simply add parsley stems, black peppercorns, and bay leaves.
One addition I have made to this recipe recently on the advice from a good friend and coworker of mine, Chef JC White, is the incorporating of fresh lemon to the stock. I have always put lemon in my soup but never thought to put it in my stock. It adds a depth of citrus flavor that is a really nice compliment to the final dish. You then cover all your ingredients in cold water, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and reduce by a substantial margin, typically 25-30%.
We always start our stocks with cold water because it will slowly dissolve a protein in the bones called albumin which will result in a clearer stock. At this point, you can simply walk away. How long it takes depends on the size of the pot you are using. (In my case, I used my trusty 22-quart stockpot. I realize most home cooks don’t have pots that big so just use the biggest pot you have.)
Another important component of any noodle soup is the type of starch you want to use. I prefer to use a type of Polish noodle called kluski. Kluski is a type of egg noodle but it varies from a typical egg noodle in that it is not nearly as wide and is substantially thicker. I don’t like using extruded or shaped pastas such as macaroni or mostaccioli because those types are more designed to hold onto a rich tomato or cream sauce in a typical Italian pasta dish. The reason I like the kluski is that it is easier to eat and is actually the closest thing I have found that emulates the noodles in that red can that I’m sure we had as kids from time to time. Who doesn’t want to enjoy a more adult version of something they might have enjoyed as a child from time to time?
If you’re interested in a much more immersive stock making experience, consider The Chopping Block's Culinary Boot Camp. We're offering this 5-day class each month in 2020, and the first session begins January 27 at the Merchandise Mart.
If five days is too much of a commitment for you right now, look into our new Essential Building Blocks class which also covers making chicken stock. It's like a sneak peak of Boot Camp!
3 pounds chicken bones
2 yellow onions, rough chopped (not peeled)
2 carrots, rough chopped (not peeled)
1 bunch celery, rough chopped
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
Water to cover
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Lay out your chicken bones on a sheet pan and roast until browned.
- Remove bones from pan and place in your largest tall-sided pot.
- Add onions, carrots, celery, parsley stems, peppercorns, bay leaves. Cut lemons in half, squeeze into pot, and drop both halves in. Cover with cold water by at least 3-4 inches.
- Bring to a boil, drop to a simmer, and cook for 4-6 hours until a 25-30% reduction is achieved. Do not stir your cooking stock. This will release impurities and result in a cloudy stock.
- Strain, cool and use as needed or freeze.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, medium dice
1 yellow onion, medium dice
3 large carrots, medium dice
1 bunch celery, medium dice
1 gallon chicken stock
1 pound egg noodles or pasta of your choice
1 bunch parsley, rough chopped
TCB Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the diced chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large pot over high heat and sear the chicken. Remove to a clean bowl.
3. In the same pot, sweat the onion, carrots, and celery until slightly softened.
4. Return chicken to the pot. Lower heat to medium low and continue to cook 10-15 minutes.
5. In another large pot bring your stock to a boil and drop in the pasta. Cook per the manufacturer’s instructions for al dente.
6. Add the stock and boiled noodles to the pot of chicken and vegetables and continue cooking 20-30 minutes to blend flavors.
7. Add the juice of the lemons, the parsley, and taste for seasoning. Adjust accordingly.
8. Serve with crackers or the crusty bread of your choice.