I make chicken noodle soup at least once a month, but my kids beg for it every week. They love it so much that they requested it for Christmas Day Dinner forever. Our family eats 8 quarts of this soup in one meal. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not. My kids will eat. it. all. So much for leftovers. It’s February and half the country is being pounded by snow storms, so soup’s on, friends! To make this fast and easy, I have some tips:
I buy the packages of cooked, pulled rotisserie chicken from Costco. They are in the refrigerated case next to the whole rotisserie chickens.
Use frozen sliced carrots and frozen diced onions. Open and dump. If I ever find frozen diced celery I’ll be in heaven. If you think to leave them out to thaw before cooking, this could be a 30-minute meal.
FAST AND EASY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or the really good homemade stuff)
4 stalks celery, diced
2 tbsp butter
1 pound carrots, chopped
1 large onion
1 or 2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste, depending on the broth. My homemade broth has no salt in it, so I add way more than this)
½ teaspoon pepper
16 ounces noodles (egg noodles are traditional, but can be hard for little ones to navigate, so I use smaller, bite-size noodles)
1 cup cream or half-and-half combined with 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional for creamy-style, but this is what we prefer). For a dairy free option use unsweetened almond or coconut milk, but start with half and taste because they can add a sweetness.
To a large stock pot (mine is 8 quarts), add the chopped vegetables and the salt and pepper with some butter and allow them to sweat on medium low*. You don’t want them to brown or caramelize. Once they get soft add 12 cups chicken broth and the bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
Add the noodles and cook according to package directions at a rolling boil. While the noodles are boiling give the chicken a quick chop because it’s in large chunks.
For a creamy version, combine the cream (or half-and-half) and cornstarch in a liquid measuring cup, whisking to dissolve the cornstarch. Add the slurry to the soup and simmer rapidly for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the shredded chicken. Serve and be warmed and comforted.
*If you just toss the carrots, celery and onion in the broth and boil instead of sweating them in some type of oil/fat first, the vegetables will give up their flavor and goodness to the broth and they will be tasteless. Just like when you put them in the water with the bones to make broth, they flavor the broth. This is why I don’t make this in the slow cooker. Since you are using delicious broth in this soup instead of water, you already have that layer of flavor and want these veggies to retain their flavor for themselves.
The combination of carrots, onions and celery is called mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah), by the French because they are the start of most soups.