Monday, August 27, 2012

Frugal large family meals: chicken noodle soup

I'm not feeling well and have been eating the chicken noodle soup I made over the weekend and really counting on its curative affects. I wasn't going to share the recipe (such as it is) with you at first because it seemed like such an obvious thing, but it has been pointed out to me more than once that what seems obvious to me isn't necessarily obvious to anyone else.

So, here is how I make chicken noodle soup. (It isn't going to look like a recipe, though, because I'm going to describe how I make it.) Chicken soup is a very frugal meal, especially if you have saved the carcasses from one or two roast chickens. (You can freeze them if you know you aren't going to use them right away or if you want to save up until you have a couple.) If you don't think there is enough meat left on them to be enough for soup, you can always buy a small package of chicken legs and use them as well.

At some point in the early to middle afternoon I will start the stock. In a large pot, put in your chicken (it can go in frozen) a couple of carrots, a couple of sticks of celery, and an onion, cut in half. Cover with water (it is going to evaporate, so I always put in more than I think I want) and put on the stove. Bring to a simmer and simmer for several hours. I often will partially cover the pot with a lid to keep the moisture in. You can spend the rest of the afternoon feeling virtuous and enjoying the smell of the cooking soup. I find my children find it comforting to smell dinner cooking. They've never missed a meal, but you would think they had based on their need to know what is for dinner and when it's going to be done.

About 45 minutes before you want to eat, take the bones and the vegetables out of the stock. The vegetables you can discard, but set the bones aside to cool for a bit. Lots of recipes will tell you to strain the soup through cheesecloth at that this point. I don't do that anymore. I just can't figure out how to do that with the size of pot I currently use. Instead, I take a mesh strainer and use it to scoop anything I might have missed out of the pot. Sometimes a stray bone will get missed, but it works just fine... and it's easier than straining through cheesecloth.

While the chicken bones cool, peel and chop some carrots and celery. Add them to the stock and add enough water to make the amount of soup you want. Bring it back to a simmer. While the vegetables cook, pick over the bones and add back in the meat. Add seasonings to the soup.... I usually just use salt, pepper, and parsley. Taste to be sure you have enough salt. Right before serving add the egg noodles and cook for four minutes.

If you are going to have biscuits along with this, I would make them before you put the vegetables in and then bake them right before serving.

Now I'm going to go back to trying to feel better.

2 comments:

Somebody's Nana said...

My daughter taught me this trick. Keep your sad-looking onions and celery for stock making as it doesn't matter how they look as they will be discarded. Tie them up in cheese cloth and include a small tomato. The tomato acid acts on the bones and makes for a more flavorful soup. Then, when it's time to remove the cheese cloth you only have to deal with the meat and bones. She makes the most awesome chicken stock this way. You can freeze the stock separately without the meat and use it as needed for smaller families.

sandwichinwi said...

I add garlic, too. Yum. I might be hungry for chicken soup now...

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