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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup - healthy and homemade

Homemade Chicken Noodle and Tomato Soup

Here's the thing about chicken noodle soup - there are a gajillion "recipes" probably one for everyone who cooks and if you are like me, everytime you make this powerhouse of healthiness and deliciousness it is just a little different.

My mom, Mimi,  makes great chicken noodle soup - she uses canned broth but adds celery and onions and butter and a bunch of different types of noodles - with lots of salt and pepper. Growing up it was (and still it) on my top 5 meals Mimi makes. It is comfort food at its best. It stretches to feed many - just add more water and noodles.

But the thing about cooking is even if you don't know how, were never taught, aren't any good at it, don't like it; you HAVE to keep on doing it. The more you cook the better you get, you learn what tastes you like and what your family likes. You learn that certain foods taste wonderful together and some, well really shouldn't even be in the same meal. It is full of trial and error but one day you will wake up and think "dang chicken noodle soup sounds good to my soul" and you will be able to whip it up and you will be eating a wonderfully healthy meal in no time.

The thing though with cooking is in the beginning you need look at recipes, see what other people are doing and putting together. What is "normal" to chicken noodle soup so you know where to start. (Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is a great place to start)

That is what I am sharing here - a beginners recipe for people who are just learning to cook, who are sick and tired of canned soup and just want to begin.

In old old receipt books (recipe now) the recipe would begin with "go out back and kill the chicken" now you COULD do that but if you know how to kill and process a chicken you certainly don't need my help to make soup!

The first step then is to make broth - I teach you how to make it from chicken feet here but if you aren't quite ready for that then let me give you the quick-ish version. (warning it sounds more complicated than it is - I promise!)

Chicken Broth
In a crockpot put a whole chicken you have rinsed and patted dry. Add about 2 cups water and cook for 1 hour on high and then 6-7 hours on low. Remove chicken and strain liquid.

Take all the meat off the chicken and then put all the leftover bones and innards (if you have them) back in the crock along with the strained liquid, add more water, an onion, carrot, celery, 1"piece of ginger (if you have it) a bay leaf and any other veggies you might have (cabbage, brussel sprouts and brocolli make it bitter -don't add these). Be sure to save the meat - it is the beginning of lots of great meals - and today we are using about half of it for soup.

Add a couple TBS of vinegar to the liquid and let sit about an hour - this helps to get the marrow from the bone. Then cook for 18-24  hours on low. If there is some nastiness that comes to the top - skim that off. Cool, strain and you have delicious healthy homemade broth with very little actual "doing something" time involved. This freezes wonderfully. I always have some in the freezer. It can also be made with ANY leftover chicken bones - when you have a meal with bone-in chicken save the bones in a bag in the freezer until you have enough to make broth.

So, now it is time to make the soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup
  • 2TBS butter
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 small onion peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 leek - optional
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small can tomatoes - diced or 1 large fresh, cut up (today I used home canned tomato sauce, too strong to use again but still good)
  • 2 - 3 cups cooked chicken - cut up small
  • 1 summer squash and/or zucchini cut into half moons and then cut in half again - you don't want them huge
  • 1/2 tsp Tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Thyme
  • 2 tsp dried Parsley Flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup white beans - any flavor - optional
  • noodles - about a half small bag (or 2 cups cooked rice - this makes this g/f)
  • juice of one lemon

cute sous chef optional

In a large soup pot, or dutch oven or the biggest pot you have saute in a couple TBS of butter the onion, carrots and celery - I add them as I go. I often add leeks if I have them. When they are soft and beginning to brown add 1-2 cloves minced garlic and cook a few more minutes.
Add your homemade chicken broth and water. I often add summer squash and zucchini at this point, along with diced tomatoes and some kind of white beans. This is also the time to put about 2 cups of the cooked chicken in - I cut it up so that there is chicken in every bite!

Add your seasonings -  check again later to see if you need more salt a pepper.

Bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook to al dente - they will continue cooking when you take off the burner. I add liberal salt and pepper and my secret ingredient that I use (if I have it) is to add the juice of one lemon at the very end - it gives a touch of freshness to the soup.

This is a favorite meal around here. We almost always eat ours over homemade mashed potatoes - heaven. I have to hide myself a bowl if I want some for lunch the next day.

So to make delicious, healthy homemade chicken noodle soup think: broth, noodles, chicken and veggies and you will have a winner!

Do you have any quick go to soups you make?

Linked to Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop @ A Little Bit of Spain and other lovely hostesses!
Also linked to Life as Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap - Food for a Crowd
and Family Food Fridays @ Get Healthy Cheap
Real Food Deals - Week 7 at Premeditated Leftovers


  1. of my absolute favorite things! So comforting and delicious =)

  2. 'All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth' - cute photo.

    The soup looks great as well. Homemade soup stays one of my all-time favourites.

  3. @arnold - thanks, she is actually missing all 4 front teeth - corn on the cob has been a treat to watch her eat!! I love toothless kids!

  4. This looks seriously good! I think a cute assistant makes everything even better. Hope ya link up today, I'd love for you to share this at Family Food Fridays. :)

  5. This is perfect for using with turkey bone too! You have an adorable helper! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family!