Happiness Is: Betsy’s Cure-All Chicken Noodle Soup

Good for what ails you…home-styled comfort for a rough day or a cold night.

Around here the leaves have turned and fallen, the wind is cold and blustery outside, the fat bird has sung its Thanksgiving song and all that remains are the memories…and few extra pounds, perhaps!

It’s a fun time of year, but a stressful one. The weather keeps changing, the baking and gift giving frenzy is upon us, and with all of that can come an unwelcome cold or case of the flu, or maybe just a touch of the holiday blues.

Fear not, dear ones, I have just the thing for you!

My Cure-All Chicken Noodle Soup is simple and simply comforting. It’s the thing to have after all the stuffing and overstuffing of the Thanksgiving holiday, and to recover with before the next round of partying and eating. Over the years I’ve found that is has the power to not only ward-off oncoming illness, but to surely make anyone with the sniffles or blues feel warm and loved. Even the steam off the bowl is good for clearing your sinuses! Additionally, this bowl of goodness will take the edge off of your hectic day and remind you of cozy comforters and a warm fire in the fireplace. Granted, in some cases it may not replace antibiotics in terms of a cure-all, but it sure can’t hurt!

This soup is wonderful accompanied by a slice of cheese toast. And if you feel so inclined to gild the lily, you can add a few drops of fresh lemon juice and a small bit of sour cream to your bowl to mix in for a little extra comfort and joy. Mmmm, mmm, good!

Betsy’s Cure-All Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 8 servings

To Start:

3 bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin
1 trimmed and peeled carrot cut into 3-inch pieces
1 1/2 stalks of celery with leaves cut into 3-inch pieces
2 quarters of a peeled onion
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 springs of fresh thyme
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
10 cups of water

Bring the above ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot, reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the chicken breasts are just done through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts from the stock and set aside to cool, reserving the stock. Strain the stock to remove the vegetables and herbs, then place it back into the pot. While the stock is cooling and when the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and the meat from the bones, and chop the meat into bite sized pieces. Reserve the meat. Skim fat off the top of the stock and discard the fat. Bring the stock back to a boil and add:

3 1/2 cups dried curly or flat, sturdy egg noodles
2 leeks trimmed and sliced, white and light green parts only
2 large carrots peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 1/2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced

Cook the noodles in the stock with the leeks, carrots and celery according to the time on the noodle package directions. When the noodles are done and just tender, add:

3/4 cup dry full-bodied white wine, such as chardonnay
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms
the reserved chicken meat
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Allow the soup to simmer until the mushrooms are done, about 5-8 minutes. Serve in bowls and enjoy!

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The Tale of the Little Chicken That Could, Part II: Individual Chicken Pot Pies

Chicken Pot Pies with Lemon-Thyme Sweet Potato Biscuit. Ready to eat? Yes indeed.

And now for the second chapter of our little tale…

So it came to pass that the little chicken grew up to become a fabulous roasted chicken with lovely moist meat and savory pan juices. The home cook and her husband were very satisfied at dinner that night, and the little chicken was very…well…appreciated.

But this was just the beginning of the tale for this happy little chicken, oh yes! For you see, he had some special secrets he’d shared with the home cook, secrets that would honor a fine chicken and feed a family of two or more for several days. He foretold of many ways the home cook could enjoy him beyond an initial roasting, as well as have fun making new dishes in her kitchen. Continue reading

The Tale of the Little Chicken That Could!

Once upon a time, there was a sale on whole organic chickens at Whole Foods. These were beautiful little chickens, certified organic stage 3, and individually wrapped…and it was a GOOD sale.

The day had dawned bright and sunny, the weekend was upon us, and the home cook went to the market on her lunch hour to purchase some milk and fruit to round out her grocery supply. She had no need of animal proteins on this beautiful, crisp day, being well endowed with veggies from her local CSA box.

She briskly strolled her cart down the aisles…easily ignoring the pitfalls of the cheese department and the bakery(!). And then suddenly, just as she rounded the paper goods aisle, harps started playing and angels started singing…it was Friday you see, the big one day sale! And there they were, all those little chickens…lined up side by side in the refridgerator case, waiting patiently to pounce on unsuspecting shoppers. Continue reading

Staying Cool with a Classic

Sometimes when dinnertime rolls around, I feel like just sticking with the basics, and I seem to be in that kind of mood this week. Here’s another simple recipe for summer, that has a little kick of spice to it, but cools you down at the same time: Classic Curried Chicken Salad. For those who can’t eat curry, I’ve added a non-curry variation to the recipe, too,  substituting tarragon for the curry and pecans for the almonds in the form of a Tarragon Pecan Chicken Salad. Both make a wonderful main dish for a hot summer night. And if there’s just two of you, there will be more for tomorrow. Joy!

seedless red grapes

chopped celery

toasted slivered almonds

roasted chicken breast