Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

Just recently it seems like half of the family have been suffering from a lurgy of some kind - Nick flew back into the country with a sick bag in his lap, Rich has a bog standard, crappy cold and my mother-in-law Jill is getting over a wee bout of pneumonia. For me there are only a few things I feel like when I am sick, in addition to a hug from someone I love, I crave perfectly cooked scrambled eggs or a bowl of soothing soup (a whiskey never goes astray either...). Chicken Noodle Soup is a classic, and has long been purported to have medicinal qualities, and it just makes so much sense - with onion, garlic, celery, carrot and parsley you have an array of anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, chicken for lean protein, and noodles for all-out comfort! I popped a container of the soup over to Jill's and have some tucked away for Nick on his return from Wellington where he has flown down to see Henry...now how to convince Rich that he will love it too....

Oh and look, this does actually require a bit of effort, but it is totally worth it. Please, if you are used to overly-fake-chicken-seasoned things just enjoy the flavour of real chicken, it doesn't hit you over the head in the same way, but is totally soothing and delicious.

 Day 1or in the morning:
1 size 16 free range, organic chicken, giblets removed
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 stalk celery including leafy top, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt
parsley stalks from a bunch of parsley
8 whole cloves (the spice, not garlic)
half a head of garlic, roughly chopped

Put the chicken in a large pot with all of the remaining ingredients. Cover with water by at least 5cm and bring to the boil. (You will want at least 8 cups of water). Simmer with the lid on for 1 1/2 hours - if necessary top up the water so it remains above the level of the chicken. Remove the chicken from the stock (it may plop off the bone as you do this - just use tongs to find all the bits) and leave to cool. Remove the lid from the stock and bring back to the boil, then simmer for another hour to reduce and intensify the flavour - you want to be left with about 6 cups of stock. At this point strain the stock into a container and store in the fridge - this will allow the stock to set into a jelly and the fat and impurities will solidify on the top so you can easily skim them off.

Once the chicken has cooled enough to be handled, shred it into a container and store covered in the fridge until ready to use it.

Day 2 or in the evening
1 tbsp butter
1 brown onion, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 sick celery, halved lengthwise and sliced (if small, just slice 2 stalks without halving)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g fine noodles eg vermicelli or angel hair, snapped into 10cm long threads
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly torn

Heat butter in a large pot and cook onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt and pepper over a medium/gentle heat for 20 minutes until soft but not coloured. Use a big spoon to scoop fat off the top of stock and add to vegetables. Bring to the boil, add chicken and noodles and simmer for about 5 minutes until noodles are cooked and chicken is heated through. Serve garnished with parsley and on the side, lightly toasted ciabatta or freshly made cheese scones (that's 'biscuits' to my American friends).
Serves 4

Excited little extra note here to say I just made it into the top 10 finalists in the Kitchn 'Homies Awards' best Blog from Abroad category!!! If you have a spare minute and you  are keen, it would be most fabulous if you could head on over here to make a vote in my favour. Thank youuuuuuuu!

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