In Honor of Chicken Noodle Soup

When we were kids and felt sick, my mother – like many parents – made us chicken noodle soup. She used the Lipton Noodle Soup packets which were basically bouillon and wee bits of noodle, added water and her own twist of extra egg noodles to create a giant concoction of basically noodles with some broth flavored like chicken. Plus, salt and pepper.

I think my Grandma made this, but she had a rule that her boys ate before her girls so my mother complained bitterly about never getting her fair share of noodles as a child. Mind you, her childhood was an upper-middle class Bethel Park one so her woes were more about Grandma’s sexism than actual food deprivation.

So she compensated by cramming every possible egg noodle into the pot and serving herself first “to taste test it” and creating a rather distorted notion of chicken noodle soup in my head.

I still love this concoction.

My father was a Campbell’s Soup man. He served up that equally salty soup with bits of orange carrots and long slimy noodles with a heaping side of Saltines. He never bought generic soup and was convinced Progresso was a Communist tool.

I liked it fine, but my mother had raised the bar on the noodle to broth ratio so …

As a grown-up with my own stove, no boys to feed, and a permanent state of allergy/cold high alerts, I’ve found that making my own soup is the best of both worlds.

I say it is from scratch, but I use canned broth. It’s scratchy? Scratch adjacent? I chop things, even dicing the chicken, and I eyeball measure quantities. That counts.

Best of all, there is plenty of noodles and broth. And much, much less salt.

Truly best of all, I made some yesterday to use up the celery and carrots in the fridge. So dinner and lunch and lunch are covered.

I also have these adorable little soup crocks that I cannot recall buying, but here they are.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups egg noodles
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes. Pour in chicken and vegetable broths and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes before serving.

I go heavy on carrots and celery when I can. I also tend to make the base minus the pasta (noodles) and let it sit on low until we are ready to eat, then I toss in the noodles and cook everything to perfection. I don’t add salt and pepper, but sometimes I replace the basil/oregano with Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning. Or add all three.

Recipe can be found here

But my favorite chicken noodle soup of all time is Ohn-No Kauk Swe, a Burmese dish (Americanized, of course) I discovered at Royal Myanmar in West View. It is chicken noodle soup with coconut milk. The ingredients are fresh egg noodle, chicken broth with chicken milk served with egg, onion, lime, gram fritter, cilantro and crushed pepper. It is incredible, to the point that whenever we go for dinner I order this soup to-go (noodles on the side) to eat the next few days. We also will buy it as a dinner for holidays when we eat heavy mid-day meals with the family and know that we will find ourselves hungry but not hungry hungry when we arrive home.

This blog post is brought to you by the fact that I have some sort of stomach virus and can only eat soup so it is pretty much on my mind.