Trudy’s Bottomless Chicken Noodle Soup:

Well it’s good to be back after missing a day.  FYI: I suffer from nerve damage and sometimes it flares up without warning, creating too much pain for me to be able to sit still and write.  But today is another day and I am feeling about 50% better so I thought I’d pen a thought or two.  

One of the things about being confined to bed, is that you watch an awful lot of television.  Admittedly for me, it’s mostly Food Network or The Cooking Channel.  Ever since I was a little boy, sitting in the tiny kitchen of our Brooklyn tenement, watching my mother peel potatoes and doing other prep for the evening meal, I have been intrigued with cooking.  It amazed me how learning a few simple techniques, could open up a world of culinary possibilities.   

My mother explained to me that cooking was basically about knowing two things.   One needs to know what different foods, spices and herbs taste like, and you will then be able to distinguish what tastes good together.  And most importantly, it really was the method, rather than the recipe that was important to learn.  Once you knew how to prepare something like… beef stew, the window was now open for chicken stew, pork stew, potpie, short ribs, pot-roast, etc.  Also, a few changes in ingredients, such as green chilies into a pork stew along with a slight variation of the seasoning, (maybe some chopped cilantro instead of parsley and a touch of lime), and just that easy, you suddenly have a Latin inspired meal.  Now it would make far more sense to serve the stew over a bed of rice than say, buttery mashed potatoes. 

Another thing about learning the fundamentals of a good stew, is that you now have the bonus knowledge of the “basics of soup making.”  After all when you think about it, isn’t a stew really little more than a thickened soup?  Here you can go crazy, simply by changing out meats and/or vegetables and adding a starch like noodles, rice or pasta (maybe the addition of some beans), and you have an arsenal of hearty one pot meals at your fingertips! 

The following is my mom’s recipe for her bottomless chicken noodle soup.  It’s so incredibly basic and easy, but also hearty and delicious! 

Trudy’s Bottomless Chicken Noodle Soup: 

Ingredients: 

A whole chicken cut up

2 Extra chicken breasts (on the bone)

1 large sweet onion – peeled and chopped into a small dice

5 stalks celery – cut on the bias, into ½ inch chunks

5-6 carrots – cut on the bias into ½ inch chunks

2 quarts (8 Cups) chicken stock – preferably homemade*

Water – enough to totally submerge chicken and come up 3-4 inches higher

Salt – to taste

Cracked black pepper – one heaping teaspoon or to taste)

2 tablespoons of fresh, flat-leaf parsley – roughly chopped

1 large bag egg noodles (we liked wide noodles but feel free to use your favorite) 

Instructions: 

Remove skin from the chicken.  Don’t worry about the wings and drumsticks.  This is a LARGE pot of soup and a little fat will add some good taste without making the soup “greasy.” 

Place chicken into a large stock pot and add the chopped vegetables.  Cover with the stock and water and add salt & pepper to taste.  Cook over high heat until soup come to a boil.  As soon as it boils, lower the heat to a gentle simmer.  Cook about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from pot and set aside in a platter or bowl to cool. 

Raise the heat on the soup to medium and continue to cook until veggies are tender and the liquid has reduced slightly.  About another 15-20 minutes. 

Using a hand strainer, scoop out the vegetables and set them aside in a bowl. 

This is the point to taste your soup, so you can adjust seasoning (salt and/or pepper) if needed. 

Turn heat up to high and bring to boil.  Once boiling, add egg noodles.  Cook about three minutes less than package recommends.  The noodles are going to continue to absorb broth and become soft.  They will also release their starch, slightly thickening the soup. 

While noodles are cooking, tear off all the meat that you can, from the chicken and discard bones.  Cut meat into bite-size pieces. 

Once the noodles are cooked, remove pot from heat and add the chicken and the vegetables back in.  Stir to distribute.  Add parsley and stir once more. 

* You can make the soup with all water in lieu of broth, but add about 4-6 packs of either liquid or powdered chicken base or bouillon.  If you are using the bouillon or base, adjust your amount of salt accordingly as these ingredients are very salty on their own. Remember, you can always add more salt if needed, but you can’t remove it if you put in too much. 

This hearty soup is a “meal in a bowl” when served with a salad and a nice piece of crusty bread.  We used to sprinkle a heaping spoonful of grated parmesan cheese into our bowl of soup.  It really kicks it up to a new level.   But this is purely optional and a matter of personal taste.    

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Don

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Trudy’s Bottomless Chicken Noodle Soup:

  1. Theresa

    Today feels more like a fall day then a summer day. I think you just inspired me to go to the market for the ingredients ! MMmm cant wait!!

  2. FYI: When I make this soup… Once all the meat & veggies are removed and it is time to bring to a boil for the noodles, before I put the noodles in, I let the soup boil for a while and reduce a bit (about an inch). This intensifies the rich flavor.

  3. Jeanne

    See what you’ve done? I can taste that soup and now I’m craving some a big pot full. Funny…great minds do think alike. I make my Mom’s recipe for soup the exact same way except Mom liked to do the noodles separately as to keep more broth for us. If she needed, she would add a little of the noodle water to the soup just to thicken it a tinch. It must have been a depression meal because as you mentioned…just by adding different veggies and or meats (sometimes none), you have a completely different meal. And… as I’m sure Trudy must have done, if there were any leftovers you could make a pot pie the next day. Growing up we NEVER knew when times were bad because of good hearty meals. Once everyone reads “Unforgettable” Trudy’s Story, they will remember (or realize) what it was like growning up in those times. Somehow, eating meals together as a family always made everything okay. Being with family and eating comfort food will still make you feel wonderful especially in today’s economy. Thank you for bringing back those memories for me.

  4. So true Jeanne. The family dinner table was not only a great place for everyone to share good food, but also good stories, jokes and a general good time to bond as a family. It’s a shame so many kids today don’t know what that’s like. It was sure good times and I am so happy it is a part of my history. 🙂

  5. Jeanne

    I know. Meal time should be a “special time” for all families even if you don’t have a lot of free time. It’s funny, time seems to have lost it’s meaning somewhere along the road. I do know that if you really want to do something…you will FIND the time to do it. So please, all you families out there, MAKE time to sit together even if it’s only for a few minutes or over a PBJ sandwich. Just learn to enjoy each other while you are able. As you can tell from Don’s writings, the end result is so rewarding for parents, children and grandchildren.

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