For all its legendary, soul-soothing status, chicken noodle soup recipes—those rich with homemade stock, fresh vegetables, herbs, and egg noodles—are rather hard to find. This classic, homemade recipe is a labor of love that will nourish you in the making, and your family, in the eating. It makes enough to serve four for one meal, with plenty of stock left over to freeze and use for another occasion.
• Two, fresh, small chickens, rinsed
• 12 cups, or, enough water to cover the chickens in the pot
• Two medium white onions, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters
• Two large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
• Three celery ribs, cleaned and cut into large chunks
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon thyme
• 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
• 1 sprig rosemary, or 1 teaspoon rosemary needles
Chicken Noodle Soup (Serves 4):
• 6 cups of the finished chicken stock
• 1 1⁄2 cups baby carrots, cut into rounds
• 1 rib fresh celery, diced
• 1 fresh leek, trimmed, white and light green chopped
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
• Thigh meat from the cooked chicken stock, chopped
• 1/2 package German egg noodles, prepared according to package instructions
• Zest of 1/2 fresh lemon
• Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
• 2 tablespoons fresh snipped parsley, minced plus lemon slices (from the remaining 1⁄2 lemon) for garnish
Place chickens in a large heavy-bottomed soup kettle. Cover with 12 cups cool water (or a bit more if needed to cover the birds.) Add all remaining stock ingredients to the pot. Heat to a boil; immediately reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Using a large strainer, separate broth from all of the solids (vegetables and chickens). Reserve solids in a large bowl to cool. Place stock in refrigerator to chill until fat has congealed over the top, overnight, or for several hours. While the stock is chilling, and when cool enough to handle, pull the chicken thigh meat from the cooked chicken carcasses, and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. (Note: I only add the thigh meat to the finished soup, because it retains better flavor and texture than the chicken breasts, after its long simmer in the stock.) Reserve remainder of chicken (and if you like, the long-cooked vegetables) for another use. Once the fat has congealed on the refrigerated stock, remove the fat and either reserve (if you have other recipes that call for chicken fat) or, discard.
Chicken Noodle Soup:
In a heavy-bottomed medium soup pot, over medium-high heat, heat 6 cups of chicken stock to a slow boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add carrot, celery, leek, and parsley. (Set aside and then freeze the remaining chicken stock.) Allow the 6 cups of chicken stock to simmer until the stock has reduced by about 1 cup and the vegetables are tender. While stock is reducing, cook egg noodles in water according to package instructions; drain. Add the diced chicken thigh meat and the prepared egg noodles to the soup. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Stir in finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon and the juice of 1/2 fresh lemon.
Serve hot bowlfuls of soup with garnish of lemon slices and a sprinkling of parsley.