Well, it seems that flu season has well and truly descended. Everyday I hear of yet another friend picking up kids early from school, then the rest of the house comes down with the yuck. And I watch the news. I am considering buying stock in the hand-sanitizer companies. So with that in mind, what better action to take than to cook up your own batch of cure-all.
Really, is there anything more comforting than a nice warming bowl of soup when you feel icky? And nothing says love better than homemade chicken noodle soup, that queen of comfort foods. Now, don’t freak out, I am not asking you to undertake some massive kitchen project. Anyone with a big pot can make good, fresh, chemical and additive free chicken soup. It just takes a little patience – and for such great reward. If you have never, or at least not in a very long time, had homemade chicken noodle soup, you will be blown away by the difference. No chemical tang or aftertaste, just good, clean flavor and fresh vegetables and chicken, chock full of healthy and restorative ingredients. Plus, chicken soup is perfect for a whole host of ills, not just the flu. It makes a wonderful and welcome gift to friends who are under the weather. It will last several days in the fridge, requiring just a quick re-heat to serve up a steaming bowl of good health.
This particular recipe includes lots of health-boosting ingredients. Ginger relives nausea and eases pain, Garlic is antibacterial and it helps fight colds and viruses. Leeks contain iron, fennel is high in vitamin C, and rosemary is good for headaches. Parsley is also high in Vitamin C and helps boost circulation, while sage has antibiotic properties. Oregano is antimicrobial and great for colds and flu, carrots contain antioxidants and onions are anti-inflammatory. Consider putting all this information on a card or note when you deliver the soup to a sick friend.
Not feeling the flu yet? Lucky you, but take this opportunity to put together a batch today and freeze it, without the noodles, for when (or if, hopefully) you are laid low.
This recipe also hits on that other hot-button of the day. Making this big ol’ pot of goodness costs under ten dollars, and that’s with some vegetables, herbs and chicken meat left over for chicken salad or pot pie. So it’s comforting and cost-effective, no matter what ails you.
Chicken Noodle Penicillin
In general, but particularly when I am sick, or making this for someone who is, I always use organic vegetables, a hormone and antibiotic free chicken and noodles with as few additives as I can find (label reading is good).
1 whole chicken, no liver or gizzards
1 medium onion
2 medium leeks
1 small fennel bulb
3 celery ribs
10 cloves garlic
3 green onions
1 large sprig rosemary
1 large sprig oregano
2 bay leaves
3-4 stalks parsley
1 large sprig sage
1 – inch piece peeled ginger
2 teaspoons peppercorns
10 – 12 cups water
2 carrots, peeled
2 celery ribs
3 green onions, white part only
6 ounces wide egg noodles
2 cups chicken meat
sea salt to taste
Wash all the vegetables and rinse the cavity of the chicken well. . Place the chicken in a large Dutch oven or stock pot (7 quarts) with a lid. Peel the onion and cut it into pieces, toss in the pot. Trim the roots and the dark green parts of the leeks, cut the white into chunks, rinse off, and toss in the pot. Remove the lacy fronds from the fennel, remove the outer layer of the bulb, chop into quarters and toss in. Cut a few feathery fronds and add. Cut the carrots and celery into chunks and add to the pot. Trim the roots from the green onions and toss them in with the rest of the ingredients. Pour over the 10 – 12 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours.
When the soup has cooked, pour the whole pot into a colander set over a large bowl. Pull out the chicken pieces and discard the vegetables. Rinse out the pot and wipe any pieces out. Leave the broth and chicken to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the chicken bones (no skin or fat!) and shred into bite-sized pieces. You may have more than the two cups meat needed to finish the soup; reserve it for another use. Set aside. Skim as much fat as you can from the top of the broth. You can refrigerate the broth for a few hours to solidify the fat before removing if you’d like.
Finely dice the two peeled carrots and two celery ribs and the green onions. Remember that the final product is meant to be eaten with a spoon, so make the pieces small enough. Same goes with the chicken meat. Add the vegetables back to the cleaned pot and pour in 2 cups of skimmed broth. Cover and cook over medium high heat until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove the cover and cook until the broth is almost gone. Pour in the remaining broth and bring to a boil. Add the noodles, cover the pot again and cook for about 8 minutes, until the noodles are soft but not limp. Stir in the chicken meat and heat through. Season to taste with sea salt.
Serve immediately, or leave the soup to cool. When completely cool, ladle into ziptop bags or glass jars and seal tightly. The soup will keep for three days sealed in the fridge. To freeze, ladle the soup into ziptop freezer bags before adding the noodles, seal tightly, and freeze for up to three months.
When ready to eat, pour into a pot and heat over medium high heat until warmed and steaming. Add the noodles until cooked if necessary.