Easy Comfort: My Recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup

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Spring is finally here and oh, does the warmer weather feel good! Yet I won’t be putting away my soup recipes too soon, as this is a bumpy season where bright-lit days easily give way to damp and chilly ones. It’s nice to come home on a chilly spring evening and get warmed up with a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and the kind I make is chunky enough to be filling, making it the perfect main course for a light, spring supper. (Toss a salad to go with it and you have a well-rounded meal.) It’s also super easy to make. Depending on how quickly you can dice an onion, a couple carrots, and a store-bought rotisserie chicken, you can have it done in 30 to 40 minutes.

Aside from oil and seasonings, let’s quickly eyeball the main ingredients you’ll need:

Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Main ingredients: a rotisserie chicken, kluski egg noodles, two carrots, a large onion, two 48-ounce boxes of chicken broth, one 11-ounce can of Green Giant Mexicorn (or any other whole-kernal corn), one 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes.

Hopefully, this at-a-glance photo makes it easy to know what you’ll need to pick up at the store. The small amount of oil and seasonings that go into the soup are items you probably have on hand, but if you want to check to be sure, the full ingredient list is below:

Suzanne’s Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • Two 48-oz containers of chicken broth (12 cups/96-oz in total). When I have it on hand, I use homemade broth, but this soup is still pretty darn good with store-bought broth.
  • 3 to 4 cups of Kluski-style egg noodles
  • One 11-oz can of Green Giant brand “mexicorn” (or any other whole-kernal corn)
  • One 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Rotisserie chicken (medium in size), deboned and diced into bite-size pieces
  • Seasonings of your preference. I use about a teaspoon each of dried sage, thyme, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. I also use a couple dashes of freshly ground black pepper.
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of honey or sugar (to balance the acidity of the tomatoes in the soup)

Directions:

First, dice your onions and carrots. Don’t chop them too fine. The carrots should be in bite-size pieces that will fit nicely on a spoon.

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Next, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot. When oil is hot, add onions and carrots and stir for a minute or two as you dial back the heat to a setting of medium-low. At this lower temperature, I usually put a lid on the soup pot and let the vegetables cook for five to seven minutes. You want to “sweat” the vegetables but not let them caramelize.

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“Sweat” your onions and carrots before adding broth.

Now add the chicken broth to the pot — an amount of approximately 12 cups (96 oz). Return the burner to high and bring to a boil. While waiting, take your package of kluski noodles and measure out three to four cups. (Do not exceed this amount, as kluski are thick noodles that swell significantly when cooked. If you prefer to have your soup more on the brothy side, use only three cups).

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I used 4 cups of noodles for my soup, which makes for a thick soup. When I’m in the mood for a more brothy version, I use only 3 cups.

Once the soup is boiling, add the kluski noodles, give them a stir, and wait for soup to return to its boil after adding them. Then immediately lower heat to medium-high and cook noodles until tender — ten to fifteen minutes, depending on what brand you purchased.  During this time, it’s important to position a lid on your soup pot in such a way that it has space around it (see photo below) for steam to escape.  (If you try cooking noodles without a lid at a rolling boil, you’ll lose too much broth to evaporation. But by the same token, you don’t want to fully cover the pot because the starch of the noodles will cause it to boil over.)

 

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If you look closely, you can see steam escaping on the right side of the lid which has purposely been set ajar.

While noodles are cooking, tear the meat from the bones of the rotisserie chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place the chopped chicken in a bowl and set aside, as it will be the last thing added to the soup.

Once the noodles are tender, add the cans of diced tomatoes and corn to the pot (being careful not to splash yourself with hot soup). 🙂 Remove lid from the pot and turn the heat up so that it returns to a boil. Allow to boil for one full minute, then take the pot off the stove.

Finally, add the chicken to the soup pot along with seasonings (garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, etc.). Finish by stirring in two to three teaspoons of honey to the finished soup. In a pot this large, you won’t taste the honey: it’s purpose is to take the acidic edge off of the tomatoes. If you’re leery, add a smaller amount and taste before adding more.

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Time to stir in the chicken, seasonings, and a wee bit of honey to balance the acidity of the canned tomatoes. NOTE: when using store-bought chicken broth (which is clear-colored) to make this soup, the broth turns ever-so-slightly pink from the tomatoes, whereas when I use homemade broth, which is richer in color, the broth tends to stay golden.

 

That’s it!  Serve and enjoy.

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Refreshing, Versatile, Simple: My Recipe for Salad Dressing

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Big green salads are a staple part of my dinner routine year round, and whether I’m making one for only my husband and me or for a number of guests, you won’t find me putting out bottled dressings for people to choose from. In the European style, I dress the salad before I serve it, and I always use this same dressing, which keeps my salad greens tasting flavorful yet really light (never overpowering, never gloppy). My family loves this dressing, and friends have often asked me for the recipe. It’s so easy — there are only four ingredients, and chances are you already have them on your shelf. So, without further ado, here’s how I make it!

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(1) Pour 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a small bowl …

 

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(2) Add 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to oil …

 

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(3) Add 1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce …

 

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(4) Add 1 Tablespoon of Honey …

 

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(5) Give it a stir and a taste test using the tines of a fork (that is a good way to taste dressings, as it delivers just the right amount to your palate). If you want the dressing to be brighter, add slightly more apple cider vinegar. If you want it more savory, add a little bit more soy, etc. When satisfied, whisk dressing and immediately pour onto greens. This is enough dressing for a very large salad (a salad bigger than the one I have pictured above). If your salads are smaller, use what you need and refrigerate the rest.

 

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This photo shows the color of the dressing and how it is always rather separated (the oil from the rest of the ingredients), which for me is not a problem. It glides over greens easily. Just whisk and pour quickly on salad (I do both at once: whisk while pouring).

 

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Believe it or not, it’s also great on certain fruits, like fresh pineapple. The soy sauce gives the dressing a slightly salty, balsamic taste that is a wonderful foil to the sweet and more acidic character of fresh pineapple.

Depending on what type of salad I’m making, I will make little tweaks to this dressing. For instance, in the summer I use it to marinate cucumbers and tomatoes, so I’ll often throw in some herbs, like tarragon and basil (dill would work well, too); and if I’m in the mood for a saltier dressing, I’ll add just a bit more soy sauce. Likewise, if I want a sweeter dressing, I’ll add slightly more honey.

 

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One last salad tip. Spend a little extra money and purchase Campari tomatoes (it is not a brand, but a very special type of tomato that is sweet and flavorful … much bigger than a cherry tomato, but still on the small side). They are delicious, even in winter! The important thing in purchasing them is to make sure that the package they come in is marked with the word Campari. I’ve been fooled into buying “tomatoes on the vine” that look similar but are nowhere as sweet. Nothing else comes close to these, in my opinion.

Orange Slices with Tarragon

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To me, oranges and Christmas go hand-in-hand, probably because I always got an orange (and a walnut!) in the toe of my Christmas stocking every year, and probably with good reason. Not only are they a burst of sunshine for people who live in the colder states, but if you do live in the northern half of the US, you’ll find that the oranges and grapefruits you get in the grocery store in winter are almost always juicier, riper and sweeter than they are at any other time of year. A couple years ago I had a lot of citrus on hand from the Christmas holiday and decided that I would experiment with creating an orange salad that I could use as a side dish to accompany a nice meal, and in the process, I discovered a very simple combination of spice that elevated the taste of orange to make it taste both savory and refreshing. All I do is peel a couple of navel oranges, slice them into rounds, and sprinkle them with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and dried tarragon. The result is so good that I can’t stop eating them once I start (it’s now a favorite snack) and though it might not strike one as much of a side dish, when served with a heavy meal like ham, for instance, they actually draw quite a bit of compliments from guests.

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French tarragon with its light licorice character is the twist that makes the difference: it lends to the orange a sense of unique, ooh-la-la sophistication.  The savoriness that the sea salt and fresh black pepper bring to the fruit are absolutely essential, though, so don’t skip adding them. If you’re looking for a way to offset the richer foods that are often part-and-parcel of winter holiday feasts, this is an easy way to do it!