feel-better chicken noodle soup

I have a cold. A sore throat, oh-so attractive cough and nasal congestion have left me craving a tried-and-true recipe, inspired by my mom: chicken noodle soup. But not just any soup, this one is made from scratch down to the broth and home-grown herbs. The only thing not homemade about it was the dainty orzo pasta, which is what my mom traditionally used in hers. To make this soup takes a bit of planning, but it's so, so worth it. It makes Campbell's canned soup taste like dog food.

It's all about the broth. I made the broth, which is my mom's recipe (and her mom's before that), weeks ago from the leftovers of a roasted chicken and stuck two-cup portions in the freezer. Homemade broth isn't like any bland, salty store-bought kind. Actually, it's so different, the first time I made it I thought I did something wrong. That's because homemade broth turns gelatanous when it's cooled - it actually jiggles, like Jell-o! But the minute it's heated up, it smooths out into a rich, flavorful and nutrition-packed powerhouse food.

Don't stop at making soup with the broth, though. Use it in recipes - everything from rice and risottos, to sauces and more - and keep your freezer stocked with it (each recipe makes nine to 10 cups). Once you build up a supply of it, it's easy to whip it out and use it as needed, just like I did today for the soup.

We roasted a whole chicken earlier this week on a bed of carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic and celery. A yummy meal on it's own account, it also provided a hefty amount of leftovers which came together nicely in this soup (and now I'll be tucking away extra soup in the freezer!). Here's how to make it, start to finish.

Feel-Better Chicken Noodle Soup
Make it in advance and tuck away in the freezer until you're ready to use it.
  • Chicken bones, skin and meat - whatever you have
  • 3 tbsp. white vinegar (this pulls the minerals from the bones)
  • 4-5 tbsp salt
  • Water
  • Optional: leftover root vegetables
  1. Add bones to a large pot and cover with water. Add the vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer, continually adding water when it gets low, for at least eight hours. The longer the better. Some people do this for a full day!
  2. When the broth has been made, strain it through fine mesh into another large pot to separate the bones, fat and skin from the liquid. Cover and place in the refrigerator until cool, which should take several hours. (I usually just leave it overnight and continue with the last step the next day.)
  3. Once cooled, the fat will rise to the surface and the broth should become gelatanous. Skim the fat from the top and portion the broth into containers for later use. (You may need to warm it slightly to measure it out if it's very gelatanous.) Yield: 9-10 cups

Chicken Noodle Soup
This took ~15 minutes because the broth was already made. Perfect "sick food."
  • 9-10 c chicken broth
  • 4 c shredded, cooked chicken
  • 2-4 c chopped garlic, onions, celery, carrots (add any raw or cooked veggies you like)
  • 1 c uncooked orzo (or other pasta)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp each dried thyme and rosemary
  • Optional: fresh, chopped parsley when served
  1. If starting with raw veggies, saute them together in soup pot with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. When tender, add the broth and chicken, herbs and pasta.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a very low simmer until you're ready to serve.

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