Today, February 4th is National Homemade Soup Day. With colds and flu abounding this time of year, a bowl of homemade soup, especially Chicken Noodle soup, sounds like a great meal.
Making soup is much easier than most people think. You can make your own vegetable or chicken stock to start. But truly, with all the products currently on the market, you can buy broth or stock that is as close to homemade as you can get. Organic stocks are available at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, both on South Virginia here in Reno, although many of our local grocery stores also carry organic stock.
Once you have made or chosen your base stock, the rest is easy. You can add whatever vegetables you want to the soup: carrots, onions, celery, any dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, or any variety of squash. If you want chicken meat in your soup, buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs to use in the soup. The fat difference between chicken thighs and chicken breasts is not that different. Using chicken thighs will give your soup a richer flavor. Choose your favorite noodle (egg noodles for traditional for Chicken Noodle soup but rice, orzo or elbow macaroni would work just as well).
Put a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in your soup pan, then build your layers. Lay the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the bottom of the saucepan (they will take the longest to cook). You will need 3 to 6 chicken thighs, depending on the size of your pan, how meaty you would like your soup to be, and the amount of soup you would like to make. Lightly salt and pepper your chicken. Top this layer with your vegetables, then add your chicken stock. Bring your soup to a boil, then reduce heat to let your soup simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken meat, letting it cool a bit. Add your noodle of choice (1/2 to 1 cup depending on the amount of soup you are making). Once the chiken has cooled some, shred the meat off the bone and add the meat back into your soup, continuing to let it simmer until the noodles are al dente. Remember to add some flavoring-thyme, bay and/or oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Ladel into soup bowls and serve. You can add some crusty bread if you like or even a simple salad to round the meal out.
The beauty of not using a precise recipe, is that you can make a little soup or you can make a lot of soup depending on how many people you are feeding. And what could be better than chicken soup for both the body and the soul?
Bon Appetit, Reno!