I've been fighting a cold for the past few days. I can usually tough out a cold, but this one comes at an especially bad time because CRB has a big gig tonight. We're playing at the annual Teddi Dance for Love, a 24-hour dance marathon at St. John Fisher College. I want to sing well not only because there will be about 500 people there, but more importantly because it's a fundraiser for a wonderful organization called Camp Good Days and Special Times. Chicken noodle soup to the rescue!
This is an amalgamation of various recipes. I'd tell you how the recipe tasted to be honest, my taste buds are obscured by my stuffy nose. But it was comforting to eat last night, and I'll be slurping some today and tonight. Hope it does the trick!
Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
Rah Cha Chow note: This is best done over two days. If you're doing it in one day, give yourself about 90 minutes to prepare it.
1 whole frying chicken
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 quarts boiling water
2 bay leaves
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (or 8 ounces from a package of sliced carrots)
3 medium celery ribs, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped fine (optional)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups (3 ounces) wide egg noodles
Ground black pepper
Preferably a day ahead, prepare the stock.
Remove breasts from bones. Cut the remaining chicken into pieces. Heat the oil until just smoking and add the chicken breasts. Cook both sides until lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and reserve.
Add the onions (if using) and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large stockpot. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer onion to a large bowl.
Add half of the chicken pieces to the pot; cook over medium-high heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to the bowl with the onion. Cook the remaining chicken pieces. Return the onion and chicken pieces (not the breasts) to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.
Add the boiling water, the boneless chicken breasts, the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; partially cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the stock is flavorful, about 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken breasts from the stock. Strain the stock into a large bowl; discard the solids in the colander. Defat the stock. Either refrigerate the stock until the fat has solidified and scrape it off with a spoon, OR put it in a gravy skimmer and pour it out through the spout at the bottom of the skimmer, stopping before the fat is poured out. When the chicken breasts are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. (The shredded chicken and stock can be refrigerated separately in airtight containers for up to 2 days.)
To finish the soup, combine the carrots, celery, onion (if using), oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the veggies have softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the stock, shredded chicken meat, and thyme. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 to 20 minutes.
Stir in the noodles; continue to simmer until the noodles are just tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
(My note: if you are not going to consume the whole batch in one serving, cook the noodles separately and stir them into each serving. They will absorb a lot of broth and get very soft if the soup is refrigerated overnight.)