classic chicken noodle soup with homemade chicken broth

This is like the stuff your Mom makes, and your Grandmother probably makes too. It's plain old delicious.

It is not really that cold in San Francisco at all. It's actually sunny, warm, and gorgeous. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Last weekend I was in Tahoe, and it was cold there; snow on the ground, ice on the lake, it was chilly. I actually went skiing! ...for the first time in probably about ten years. I was so ready. I thought to myself: I got this, it is super easy, just like when I was a kid. No. I was very wrong. I could not have been more overconfident in myself that I held on to the ability to move my body in every way possible, and gracefully glide down a mountain.

Getting off the chairlift, I swiftly make my way to the top of the mountain. Then suddenly, I just go straight forward, poles dangling in the air behind me. I then realize - I forgot how to stop. Horrified, in my head I repeated "OMG, I'm going to die. This is it. Off the mountain I go." It was straight from a nightmare. Finally, the person I was with managed to instruct me sideways, and give me some useful tips on the easiest and most important thing to know when skiing: how to stop. 

From then on, I did okay. I just went for it. I was turning, stopping, making it down the slope having only fallen once... maybe twice. It was exhilarating, really. Then, my 7-year old, extremely experienced skier friend took me down a "fun" trail on the mountain. You can probably guess how I made it over the half-pipe.

Some ingredients for chicken broth: carrot, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, parsley.

Chicken broth brewing.

Definitely grateful and happy that I took the experience to spend a whole day skiing. Will I go again? Probably. Will I go down a half pipe? No way. 

After a full day of skiing, my body was pretty sore. I thought the best way to make anybody feel better, feel warmer, feel happier - is to make a huge soup and let it cook all day, filling the room with it's hearty aroma.

The broth is fairly simple to make. The only thing about broth is that it can easily go wrong. Below I will leave some important tips for broth making along with the recipe.

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I never realized how much I enjoyed cooking and then eating soup until recently. Where was my love for soup while I actually lived in a snowy, sometimes freezing city?

I guess it is never too late to begin loving soup.

Straining the chicken broth.

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Homemade Chicken Broth

Ingredients:

15 cups of water

Bones, skin, + carcass of 1 whole cooked chicken

1 tbsp butter

3 cloves of garlic

1 yellow onion, cut into eighths with the skin on

6 celery stalks, cut in half

4 large carrots, peeled + cut into fourths

4 dried mushrooms (I used some from a pack of wild)

12 whole peppercorns

1 tbsp salt (more for taste if you want)

4 fresh bay leaves

8 sprigs fresh thyme

8 sprigs fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large stockpot, melt the butter. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, and allow them to sweat on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the herbs, salt, peppercorns, and all the chicken pieces and parts.

Cover all the contents in the stockpot with the fifteen cups of water. Add the dried mushrooms. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir once. Most of the ingredients will come up to the top. Do not stir the pot again. This is very important. Simply push the ingredients that float down with a spoon.* For the first twenty minutes, pay close attention to the stockpot. As soon as the contents come to a boil, turn the heat down to low.** Allow the broth to simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Longer if you have the time and are looking for an intense flavor.

Taste the broth every hour or so. When it has enough flavor (and I mean a lot of flavor) turn the heat off. To remove the ingredients from the broth, use a mesh strainer. I usually put the strainer directly into the pot to remove the stuff. I scoop it out and swish everything around a bit in the strainer to allow any lingering liquid to release. Discard the herbs, vegetables, and chicken pieces.

Pour the broth into sealed containers and store in the fridge for up to 7-10 days. You may also freeze the broth in glass jars or containers. If you do, you must leave at least an inch at the top of the jar or container. If not, the liquid will surpass the seal and crack the jar, seeping all over the freezer. I can't even begin to tell you how many times this has happened to me!

*Stirring the ingredients will cause the vegetables to break down and create a cloudy broth that may not taste so great.

**You must turn down the heat immediately, because a heavy boil will break down the ingredients and again create a cloudy, not so great tasting broth.

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Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

2 cups chicken, cubed + shredded into bite-size pieces

1/2 tbsp salted butter

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

6 celery stalks, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

4 small or medium carrots, chopped into 1/4 inch round pieces

2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

salt + pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, melt the butter and heat the olive oil together on medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté for about 10 minutes. Then, add the carrots and celery and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken pieces and mix together, equally distributing the butter and olive oil onto all contents.

Add the broth in segments, until it covers all contents: about 8-10 cups. Stir. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles according to the package. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.*

Add the parsley to the soup just before serving. Place a heaping spoonful of noodles into a bowl and cover with the soup. Serve with bread or crackers. Enjoy on a cold or normal day!

*I have recently learned not to add the noodles to the bowl. Some people like to cook them right in the soup so they soak all the flavor of the broth. But, this is a lot of soup with a lot of left over, and I find that if you leave them or cook them in the soup they become soggy after a while. So, I separate the two for a more enjoyable experience!

Check out some shots from my weekend at Lake Tahoe: