by cheri block
This winter I have made so much chicken noodle soup that local chicken farmers have been asking for my endorsement.
Driving down to the Central Coast of California, I speed through the rich farmlands of Steinbeck country. Along Highway 101, celery farmers have bought advertising space on large bill boards that proudly announces: “Cheri buys our celery!”
Same for the onion folks, the carrot people, and….those who manufacture glass jars. They all want my business.
I’ve never told you this before, but I love to make chicken noodle soup. In fact, a large pot of broth simmers as I write.
Some of you might say it’s… well… a genetic thing. Others of you might speculate that since I live with a man who eats ice cream every night before bed, I’m a health crusader.
A few of you who are sequestered in Carmelite or Orthodox monasteries might nod, “She has taken that Zen thing too seriously and is practicing charity.”
The medicinal value of chicken noodle soup is well documented. From rudimentary pictures (chicken scratchings, really) of chickens found on clay tablets in the Levant (1800 BCE) to the steaming tureens etched in cave paintings in Jerusalem (500 BCE), chicken soup has historic provenance, staving off colds and influenza, plague and famine, boredom and cynicism. Rumor has it that all of William the Conqueror’s steeds, carried across the English Channel, had water bags filled with chicken soup, not English tea. *
The best recipe for chicken noodle soup comes generously from my friend Mike, who writes,
“This is an old family recipe and tradition from my mother. I am pretty sure it was never before written down as my mother considered it to be too simple to require a script. My family of four frequently made this together as the children were able to participate in the noodle making since about age two and loved consuming the result. It was a great way to introduce them to the kitchen. The aroma filled the house and leftovers never lasted long.”
Mike’s Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
1 chicken, whole
1 stalk celery, cut into 3 pieces
1 carrot, peeled, cut into 3 pieces
1 onion, peeled, quartered
handful of parsley stems (optional)
1 tsp. salt
Remove giblets from the chicken (cook separately for a snack).Wash chicken thoroughly and put it in a large pot with water to almost cover. Add the rest of the ingredients. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 hour. Remove from heat, strain broth. Remove the meat from the bones and set aside. Discard the skin, return the bones to the pot with the broth and continue to simmer, for another hour at least. If you don’t do this, the broth will be much less rich tasting. (This, Cheri observes, may be the crucial part of the recipe.)
Eat the carrot ( I always save it for Lisa, Mike writes)
Strain the finished broth, clean the pot, and return the broth to the pot. Skim surface fat. Bring the broth to a boil. While it is heating, add 4 to 6 carrots and 3 to 4 stalks of celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces. Once boil is reached, turn down the heat to just simmer. Periodically skim foam from edges.
In a bowl, beat 3 eggs with a fork, add a little salt and a teaspoon or 2 of water. Mix in flour until you can handle the dough and then cut into 4 equal size pieces. Roll dough very thin on a floured board, using flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll up the thinned dough and cut the noodles very thin ( a butcher knife works well). Immediately separate the noodles and transfer to a plate (spread them out so they don’t wind up stuck together).
Cut or tear the reserved chicken meat into bite-sized pieces and add it to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boil and gradually add noodles, stirring frequently. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste again and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve.
* * * * *
If you don’t want to make homemade noodles, buy the little egg noodles or the bow-tie noodles. That’s what I do.
Lastly, share the soup. Make enough to bring to three older people (like Judge Blah), who need the sustenance.
Let me know if you try it and I will pass your thoughts on to Mike.
* This entire paragraph is bogus.