Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last Soup of the Season

I guess I haven't told you that we've been making soup all winter long. Every week, Beeper asks what the new soup will be--eagerly looking forward to it even when it is something like tomato basil that he will taste but never really eat. The point is, its been a different variety every week--lentil, corn chowder, butternut squash and wild rice...so of course, I wanted to make a soup I knew Beeper would love for our final winter soup--just because he has been such a swell soup sport all season. So, chicken noodle, of course. But with homemade noodles--like my mama always made. Of course, I have never made homemade noodles, but on a day when winter is making its last stand--well, why not? And, I have to admit, I was shocked by how good the results were--first of all, my mom sent me her recipe, but I deicded to make some changes and once I was into measuring out the ingredients, I realized I was short on all purpose flour, so I flippantly substituted whole wheat for about 1/3 of the flour...but once I mixed it all together the dough was far too dry and crumbly and would not really come together to make a dough like it should...so, I added another egg...and then the dough was too gloopy and wet...so I added some more of the whole wheat flour...and after all this noodle-making improv, well, the noodles were still brilliant. Everything you could want a noodle to be--silky and a little chewy both, a little thicker than you ever get from dried, and just the taste of pure wholesomeness. So, here is my chicken noodle recipe, more or less (there is always a lot of improv in my soup making and I would encourage you to flex your improv skills as required--this is how the best soups are born):

Prepare the soup base and veggies and chicken

  • about 8-10 cups of chicken broth (I always make my own--I obsessively save up leftover chicken bones and unused parts and toss these in a baggie in the freezer until the bag is full and then I put it in a big pot of water, and boil it with an onion, celery, thyme, garlic, a few peppercorns, parsley, and a carrot or two for about 2 hours--salt it generously--and lo, behold the superior homemade broth--but you will need to refrigerate it over night and skim the fat from the broth before using the next day)
  • 5-6 pieces of chicken (you can cook these before hand by tossing them in your pot while you are making broth--I boil them for about 30 minutes then pull them out, discard the skin, and pull the meat from the bones--and put the bones back into the stock pot)
  • a little bunch of parsley, finely chopped (maybe 1/4 cup once chopped)
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced

    Bring the broth to a boil (if your chicken is uncooked, toss in whole pieces now--this will enliven store bought broth if that is what you are using--boil for about 30 minutes, then pull out, remove skin, pull meat from bones and set the chicken aside). Add the onion, celery, and carrots--reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, get busy making the noodles...

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs + 2 yolks
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
Cut the butter into the flour and salt, using a pastry cutter and until it is all a little crumbly. Beat the eggs and yolks lightly, then make a well in the center of the flour and dump the eggs in there and mix it all together lightly with a fork (try not to over mix or you will get the gluten all excited and the dough will be a bitch to roll out--although this is one way to get a good upper body workout). If your dough consistency seems wrong, just do as I did and improvise with the eggs and flour until it seems like a nice soft and reasonably moist dough. Divide the dough into 4 portions. Now, flour your counter top and your rolling pin well--don't skimp here and do not fear redusting with flour as needed--and roll out your first ball of dough until it is about as thin as you can roll it out. If the dough seems to be fighting you and recoiling from the pin a lot, give it a rest for a minute or two and let that gluten chill out--then resume rolling. Once it seems thinner than you normally ever roll anything else out like, hang the dough over some sort of rack, or open back chair, or a broom handle (as I did) suspended between chairs. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough. Let the rolled out dough rest and hang out for about 20 minutes. Add your chicken back to the soup and turn up the heat to bring the soup back to a boil. Now, roll your noodle dough up into a roll and cut it into slices--so when you unroll the pieces, they will be noodle width (cut them in half if you want shorter noodles--I did). Once the noodles are all cut and unrolled, toss them into the soup and cook for about 5-10 minutes--and dang! if you do not have your own homemade chicken and noodles just like my mama used to make. Pure loveliness. Don't forget to share because this makes a big ol' pot of soup.


Demoiselle Libellule said...

This must be delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

Holly said...

Thank you, Bea. My little boy loved it and I have to admit it is shocking how much of it we have managed to eat already in just 2 days since it was made--I mean, considering the size of the pot. I actually was hoping we might freeze some of it for later consumption...but I am pretty sure there will not be any left after tomorrow.

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh, this looks SO good. And I'm so hungry! I'm going to go make your soup!

CK said...

Oh that looks SO good!!!