The weather's changing up here in Seattle and that means of course, we're all getting sick. This recipe is based off of the one my grandma would make me and my brother throughout our childhood, whenever we would get sick. It's made completely from scratch and a little time-intensive, but I promise you the flavor pay off is worth the investment. And, it makes a heap so you have plenty of leftovers for a few days. The best part of it is it's all natural; I can control the sodium, flavorings, even oragnic-ness of the ingredients to make a truly nourishing soup I don't feel at all guilty about giving to my kids (and me and The Hubsters too!)
The part that makes this fun for kids is the noodles I use. Instead of the clumsy broken up fettucine noodles often associated with chicken noodle soup, I use teeny tiny alphabet and star pasta. They're super easy for kids to eat and fun to spoon out of the broth. You can find them (sold separately; I just combine the two in a large container) in the pasta section of your grocery store.
I swear this soup makes you instantly better. Thanks Grandma!
Get Well Chicken Noodle Soup
1 large roaster chicken
4 celery stalks
1 large parsnip (that's the large white looking carrot thing) or 2 smaller ones
1 very large white onion or 2 smaller/medium ones
1 head of garlic
1 large green bell pepper
1 large beefsteak sized tomato
3 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 bunch fresh thyme
alphabet and star pasta
Special Equipment: stock pot
Take the chicken and rmove any gizzards inside (usually they're found in a bag nicely packaged for you; if not, fish them out) and discard. Wash the chicken under cold water (do NOT use soap) and place the chicken directly into a very large stock pot.
Wash all the vegetables. Peel the carrots and parsnip and throw into the pot with the chicken. Trim the ends off the celery and throw that in as well. Peel the onion and throw in; cut it in half if you need to to fit in the pot easily. Take the garlic and slice the whole head lengthwise, then throw that in too. Cut the bell pepper in half, remove the seeds, then throw it in the pot. Pierce the tomato a few times with a knife and throw it in whole as well (cut it in half if you need to fit it in). Add the salt, peppercorns, bay leave, and thyme right on top, then cover the whole thing with cold water until the water reaches about 1 inch from the top of the pot.
Transfer to the stove top and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. During this time, some filmy foamy brown stuff called "scum" may rise up to the surface. This is from the bones in the chicken. Using a spoon, carefly skim this stuff off the top and discard.
After 2 1/2 hours you'll notice all the vegetables are quite tender, the chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender, and the liquid has reduced a bit. Take the soup off the heat and let stand 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon and tongs, carefully remove the vegetables and chicken out of the soup and transfer to a platter to let cool. Take the remaining soup liquid (don't worry if you've got peppercorns and pieces of stray vegetables or chicken in there) and prepare to strain.
Take another large pot and set it in the sink. Place a strainer over the pot (have someone hold it over the pot to help you if you need it) and pour the soup liquid from the stock pot through the strainer and into the new clean pot. The strainer will catch all those rogue pieces of "stuff" for you. Discard the stuff in the strainer and return the now "clean" soup liquid to the stove.
Return back to the vegetables and chicken. Carefully remove the meat from the bones. I like to separate the white meat for chicken salad and use the dark meat for the soup, but what you use is up to you. Take the carrots, parsnips, celery, and onions if you like and chop them up. Return them to the soup now (or just leave the broth as is, or just add the chicken back in...whatever you want to do). Taste the soup and adjust with salt to taste.
At this point the soup is finished. You can cool it down and use it later, save just the broth part and freeze it for fresh chicken broth for other dishes, or proceed to make the chicken noodle soup:
Heat the soup back up to a boil on high heat. Add about a cup of the alphabet/star pasta (or however much you want) to the pot and cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is nice and tender like you would any normal pasta. Ladly into cups or bowls and drink piping hot to get rid of that cold!