Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Source: Cook's Illustrated

I woke up with a cold this Friday, so naturally this weekend all I wanted was chicken noodle soup! I've made a few homemade versions before, but nothing blew my socks off. This was super yummy! The use of ground chicken, then straining the stock, really makes for a tasty broth. This was perfectly flavored, so good!

It did take a long time to make, almost 2 hours! It was a very easy recipe, it just takes time between all the stages of letting the broth or soup simmer. I think the next time I give this a go I might use skin-on chicken thighs, just because I prefer darker meat.

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 small onion , chopped medium (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot , peeled and chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium celery rib , chopped medium
1 quart water
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons table salt
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 12 ounces each), cut in half crosswise

3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 small onion , halved and sliced thin (about 1 cup)
2 medium carrots , peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 medium celery rib , halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium russet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces egg noodles (about 1 cup)
4 - 6 Swiss chard leaves , ribs removed, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups) (optional)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. For the stock: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ground chicken, onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink, 5 to 10 minutes (do not brown chicken).

2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add water, broth, bay leaves, salt, and chicken breasts; cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. (If liquid is already boiling when lid is removed, remove chicken breasts immediately and continue with recipe.) Transfer chicken breasts to large plate and set aside. Continue to cook stock for 20 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain gentle boil. Strain stock through fine-mesh strainer into large pot or container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Allow liquid to settle about 5 minutes and skim off fat, leaving a little for flavor.

3. For the soup: Return stock to Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. In small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until smooth slurry forms; stir into stock and bring to gentle boil. Add onion, carrots, celery, and potato and cook until potato pieces are almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain gentle boil. Add egg noodles and continue to cook until all vegetables and noodles are tender, about 5 minutes longer.

4. Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from reserved cooked chicken and discard. Shred meat with fingers or 2 forks. Add shredded chicken, Swiss chard (if using), and parsley to soup and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve.

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