I love to make soups, building them with whatever I have in the fridge’s vegetable bins. But sometimes I want to have the canned soup my mom used to make us. Plain flavors, no designer sprigs of thyme, sautéed zucchini or roasted bone broth. I wanted to make a copy cat version of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. I did that recently to celebrate a cold.
Grandchildren are lovely, but are little walking masses of germs. One week they shared both a virus and a cold with me and I felt like hell. I wanted chicken noodle soup from a can. As I pondered this curled up on a couch, I decided I could probably make it pretty fast. I thought about it a few more minutes and then reluctantly climbed out of my nest of quilts and headed for the kitchen. The msg in canned soups is the devil for me so this would be my substitute.
I put a soup pot on the stove, set it to medium high and put a drizzle of oil into it. I quickly chopped a large onion and threw it into the pot and it began to sizzle. I added a handful of chopped celery with its leaves to the pot and let it continue to cook. I dimly noted that vegetables sauté faster in a soup pot than they do in my nonstick skillets. Probably because the pots are heavier and the bottoms hold more heat? A real chef would know that. I was just a sick amateur with vegetables browning fast. I needed to chop faster.
I added salt and pepper to the vegetables and pulled a large bag of garden carrots out of the fridge next. I chose medium large ones I could just slice and throw into the pot. I love carrots in chicken noodle soup even though they aren’t real visible in the canned soups usually. I added my carrots to the pot along with about 8 cups of chicken broth from cartons that promised to not contain msg. Sweet.
I needed chicken and only had frozen boneless skinless breasts. Good enough, I added 3 frozen breasts to the pot. I know, go ahead and squeal. I was sick, remember? This seemed faster. I let them cook awhile as the pot came to a boil.
I removed the chicken breasts from the pot with tongs and they were thawed enough to dice into large chunks. I put them back into the soup pot. Chicken added. Check.
I added a few pinches of sage and thyme, but not enough for the spices to be noticeable. I wanted non-fancy chicken noodle soup, I reminded myself. I let the soup cook at medium low for about 30 minutes. The carrots were just fork tender. I turned the heat back up to medium high and when it came to a bubbling boil I added linguine that I’d snapped in thirds. I used about half a box.
The pasta cooked for about 10 minutes and was al dente. I turned the heat off and let the pot sit, covered, for 10 more minutes. My noodles were perfectly done, if a bit too long in size. I later decided I should have snapped them into fourths to make them more manageable on a spoon. I taste tested, added more salt to taste and my soup was done.
I made toast to dip into my soup and served it up in a large bowl. Mmm mmm.. this was the chicken noodle soup of my childhood. Strong chicken flavors, lots of noodles, no herbs or seasonings to make it all fancy and professional. I drained the bowl and took a nap. Perfection.
Simple Chicken Noodle Soup
1 large onion; diced
3 ribs celery; diced
drizzle of canola oil
salt and pepper
2 cups of sliced carrots
3 chicken breasts (if frozen, cook for awhile then remove, dice and return to pot)
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
8 ounces of linguine; broken into thirds or fourths
Toast for dipping (optional)
Sauté onion and celery in oil in bottom of a soup pot on medium high heat until onion is translucent.
Add carrots and chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts and let come to a boil again. Remove breasts after several minutes to cut into pieces if chicken was frozen. Return to soup pot.
Add sage and thyme and let cook over medium low heat for 30 minutes, or until carrots are fork tender.
Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Break linguine into desired length pieces and stir into pot. Stir occasionally to keep them from sticking together and cook until they are al dente. Turn off heat, put a lid on the soup pot and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Taste test for salt and pepper and serve hot.