Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Pantry/Refrigerator Chicken Noodle Soup

Yes, winter is definitely a great time for soup. But it doesn't have to be a difficult process involving exotic ingredients and complicated cooking techniques. Chances are you have the ingredients for a great chicken soup in your refrigerator and pantry. I discovered that I did the other day. A little slicing and dicing and stirring later, I had a delicious rich warming soup. Just what the doctor ordered.

Inspired by a recipe from NPR's The Splendid Table, I pulled out chicken thighs from the freezer. Half a bag of egg noodles from the pantry. And assorted veggies, including corn and a portobello mushroom, from the fridge. Here's the result.

Note: This recipe is just a framework. Tailor ingredients and quantities to your taste and what you have on hand. You could also omit the chicken and use vegetable stock for a vegetarian option.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 6-8.

4 chicken thighs
8-12 cups water
Olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks (including the leafy tops), thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or substitute a generous pinch of garlic pepper as I do quite often)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning (and/or basil, thyme, herbes de provence, etc.)
2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
2 zucchini (or yellow squash), thinly sliced
Kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn (or substitute an equal amount of frozen corn)
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 portobello mushroom, roughly chopped (This adds a wonderful richness to the final product.)
2-4 cups uncooked egg noodles

In a sauce pan, simmer the chicken thighs in water until done, approximately 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, skin and debone the chicken. Tear or cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, defat the cooking liquid to your liking. Set aside and reserve.

In a stock pot placed over medium heat, pour several tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted and aromatic. Make sure and stir often; you don't want anything to burn or get too brown.

Stir in the tomato paste and spices. Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring often.

Add the remaining vegetables and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the egg noodles and chicken. Cook for another 10-12 minutes, until the egg noodles are tender and the chicken is heated through.

If you'd like, sprinkle a little shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese on top when serving.

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