My husband, Barry, loves my homemade chicken noodle soup. I started making it a couple of years ago when we were snowed in during a major snowstorm. There was no better lunch to serve him after digging out a foot of snow than a hot bowl of soup. I have made it many times over the years, but I started making it with rotisserie chicken I would buy at the grocery store, and that became expensive.
I have made chicken every-which-way you can imagine and had not found an easy and sure-fired way until recently. Barry was in the hospital this summer and Courtney came home to offer help and support. She decided to make some chicken for me (my vegetarian!) and found a recipe for a simple chicken piccata. She started with a Giada recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chicken-piccata-recipe2/index.html, but being her mother’s daughter, she changed it immediately. Leaving out the flour and the capers, and adding a little dill and a splash of white wine, I had a delicious lemon chicken dinner. After being at the hospital all day, it was perfect, and I even had leftovers to make dinner again.
I played with the simple idea of the pan saute preparation and now I make consistently delicious chicken in no time at all. Since the chicken for soup should not be the hard part, it is good to have a quick fix that makes the whole process simple and the outcome tasty. I made the soup the other day and here is a step-by-step easy to prepare suggestion:
Start with boneless chicken breast. I watch for these on sale and buy up. I use some and freeze the rest for another day. If the chicken breasts are thick, I butterfly them; I cut them lengthwise in half to make 2 thin breasts from each one.
Here goes: Turn on your pan on high heat. When it is sizzling, add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and lower right away to medium. On a washable board, season your chicken breasts. I use salt, pepper, and oregano when the chicken is for soup. You must season both sides, which you can do right on the board. I season the first side on the board, put the chicken in the pan seasoned-side down and season the flip side right in the pan.
The first side should be ready in about 6 minutes. Watch for the underside to seem to start creeping up the sides, turning pink to white. Resist the urge to poke, prod, or move them, please! They are cooking and when ready will release to let you flip them. Check the underside and flip the meat. I have read recipes that say another 6 minutes but have honestly found that 4 or 5 more is sufficient. I wish I could promise you could turn on a timer and it would always be perfect, there are variables: stovetop variances and the thickness of the meat. Watch for doneness.
Take the chicken off the burner, place it on a board or plate, and let the meat rest before you cut it. Cutting the chicken, or any meat, right away will releases the juices on the board or plate. Let it rest. It will be more delicious. If you stop here, you can use this delicious chicken for a number of wonderful recipes. I took this meat and made my chicken noodle soup.
Momma’s Chicken Noodle Soup
You will need:
olive oil ~ a healthy drizzle for the pot
celery – 2 stalks, cut thin on an angle
carrot – just one, also cut thin and on an angle
chicken – one breast, diced
chicken stock or broth ~ 2 boxes = 8 or 9 cups
½ cup pasta ~ I use ditalini
Put a healthy drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of the soup pot. Add chopped vegetables, salt them, and saute until they are soft and the carrots begin to caramelize. Add the broth, ½ teaspoon of onion powder and a healthy palmful of oregano and give a few gentle stirs. Cover and simmer on a low setting for at least 30 minutes; I go an hour.
In an hour, your kitchen will begin to smell great and let me say again, the nose knows, so pay attention to it. At this point add your chopped chicken, cover it again, and simmer for another 30 minutes. The time you give the soup to simmer allows the flavors to come together and makes the soup better. Remember you seasoned the chicken when you cooked it, so these flavors will be added to the soup even as the chicken drinks in the broth and oregano.
When you are ready to add the pasta, please remember this: less is more. And it is enough. It is hard to only put a little pasta in the pot, because you think you need more. Remember that pasta will double in size. Then, as it simmers, and when you reheat it, the pasta will absorb more broth and get even bigger. Too much pasta will actually soak up your broth and you won’t have good soup.
So, when you are ready to add the pasta, turn up the heat and bring the soup back to a boil, and add the pasta. Immediately turn the heat back down to medium and allow to cook 10 more minutes until the pasta is done. If you plan to let it simmer longer, turn the heat down to a low simmer.
Today is a perfect chilly, rainy, soup day! Enjoy!