Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup is soothing to the soul and body. My soup is healthy, too, full of aromatic root vegetables—carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga and onions–available in autumn. I’m taking the easy route to making the home-cooked broth by using rotisserie chickens; these will make a flavorful stock which is essential to good soup.We were served homemade soup every Saturday lunch when I was young. Guess it was a way to use up the leftovers from the week’s meals. (Nothing was wasted in our home!) Just about any vegetable, noodle, leftover meat or chicken went into the soup along with chicken broth which my mother kept in jars in the refrigerator. What I learned is that homemade soup can be made with about any food on hand. It becomes very adaptable to the circumstances.
I’m adding aromatic root vegetables to my soup giving lots of flavor and nutrition. “Root Vegetable Soup” appeared in a small cookbook by Martha Stewart that I purchased years ago. “Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus” from 1988 was ahead of its time–with beautiful photography and interesting recipes. I was intrigued by the unusual vegetables in the soup — rutabaga, celeriac, parsnips, turnips, carrots and potatoes, leeks, onions and garlic. I had never heard of some of these vegetables. All were root vegetables–coming from under the soil; all are in season in winter.
We had to drive all over town to different groceries to track down the vegetables to make the soup back in those early years. The vegetables were cooked in broth, then then soup was pureed; it has become a family favorite recipe. These days it is easier to find the vegetables which I am adding to my soup.
Nutritional Value of Root Vegetables
What we didn’t know years ago is that root vegetables are very high in nutritional value. The ones with deep orange color are high in beta-carotene and other vitamins and minerals. The “tangy ones”–rutabaga and turnips–cruciferae family vegetables– contain Vitamin C, potassium, fiber and are high in antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds. Small bites of these vegetables is a good way to introduce new foods into meals. Very healthy!
Homemade Chicken Stock
Chicken Noodle Soup must begin with an flavorful chicken stock. Last week I made homemade chicken salad using the white meat of two rotisserie chickens. With the same mindset of “never throw anything away;” there is still plenty of meat left on the bones of the chickens. This meat and bones made a flavorful broth for my soup. And it is so simple to make homemade stock with already cooked rotisserie chickens. Just add all the remaining meat, bones and skins to a 3-quart pot, add water to cover along with vegetables and herbs to season the soup—onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, fresh parsley, fresh thyme and cracked black pepper. This broth needs to simmer on the stove about an hour. Then strain and save the broth. This yielded about a quart of broth.
Save the meat, too. Here is the remaining meat on the bones.
Pick the small pieces of meat off the bones. This is a time consuming part. I’ll watch the news on television or listen to music–I’m listening to the “Punch Brothers” tonight. This yielded about a cup of chicken pieces. Just enough to flavor the soup.
Noodles versus Pasta
In addition to homemade stock, chicken noodle soup must contain egg noodles. The noodles can be thin or thick but they must be egg noodles. And this made me wonder about the difference between egg noodles and pasta. How are they different? I queried several internet forums and sites for the answer; but never found a definitive answer. It seems that pasta and noodles overlap in ingredients—not much difference between the two. So here is my take on the subject:
Noodles – can be made with several types of flour—all-purpose flour, rice flour and also durum flour (hard wheat flour which is used for semolina and pasta).
Pasta – is almost always made with durum flour or semolina.
Noodles – contain eggs.
Pasta – may or may not contain eggs and usually does not contain salt. It seemed that some regions of Italy are more likely to include eggs in pasta. Fresh pasta often contains eggs. Typically, dried pasta does not contain eggs. Just durum flour and water.
Noodles – have a shape that is flat, the length is short pieces; the width varies between thin, medium, thick and very thick.
Pasta – comes in various shapes, sizes and lengths. Usually strands of pasta are long.
Noodles – are served in soup, as a side dish with meat (such as beef stroganoff) and chicken and as a dessert (such as baked with cottage cheese and eggs). The noodles may have sour cream, broth added.
Pasta – is often served with a sauce, cheese or baked in a cheese sauce (macaroni and cheese) or stuffed with a variety of fillings.
In summary, the difference between pasta and noodles seems to be in the application. The brands of noodles with their origins shown above give an interestingly clue of the uses of egg noodles. Mrs. Millers noodles came from Ohio with a large Amish population. David’s Egg Noodles came from New Jersey with Jewish cuisine and recipes. Luxury brand is made by a New Orleans family and has either German or Italian background.
My Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother homemade egg noodles every week. I can remember watching her roll them out. They were served over broth on Sunday after church in a large noon meal.
What does this all mean? I’m not sure; just enjoy the soup!
Making Chicken Noodle Soup with Root Vegetables
Making the soup is easy once the stock is finished. Peel and dice the vegetables; about 1 to 1-1/2 cup of each. Top left to right– carrots, parsnip, rutabaga; bottom row–turnips, sweet potato and onions. Any combination of root vegetables can be used such as russet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, celeriac, leeks.
Saute the onions in oil for about 5 minutes in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the remaining vegetables and saute a few more minutes.
Add the chicken stock, additional water, chicken pieces, black pepper and salt to taste. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add the noodles, chopped parsley and cook about 10 additional minutes. The noodles will expand. Add additional water as needed.
Here’s the finished soup. It makes a large pot. Freeze any leftovers for a quick supper meal.
Chicken Soup with Root Vegetables
Ingredients for Chicken Stock:
- 2 cooked rotisserie chickens (about 1-1/2 lb each)
- 1 small white onion, quartered
- 1 stalk celery, cut in 2″ pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 parsley sprigs
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
Method and Steps for Stock:
- Remove the white meat from the cooked rotisserie chickens and reserve for another use. Add the chicken carcass, dark meat wings, thighs and legs to a 3-quart pot or stock pot. Add water to cover. Add the onion, celery, bay leaves, parsley, thyme and fresh cracked black pepper to the pot.
- Bring to boil over medium heat, stir, then reduce to simmer. Simmer an hour.
- Remove from stove and pour broth through a fine strainer. Reserve.
- Carefully, pull the chicken off the bones, taking care to remove small bones and pieces of cartilage. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces, if needed. Reserve.
Ingredients for Soup:
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium white onion, chopped coarsely
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1-3/4 cup)
- 1 parsnip, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 white turnip, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (1 3/4 cup)
- 1/3 rutabaga, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 quart chicken stock (4 cups)
- 2 quarts (8 cups) additional water
- 1-2 cups chicken, cut in small pieces from rotisserie chicken
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 4 sprigs parsley, chopped
- 4 ounces medium dry egg noodles (about 3 loosely packed cups dry noodles)
- additional parsley for garnish
Method and Steps for Soup:
- While the soup stock is cooking, peel and dice the vegetables. Use a sharp kitchen knife (rutabago is difficult to cut). Set aside until ready to assemble the soup.
- When the stock is completed and chicken removed from bones, finish the soup.
- Heat the vegetable oil to medium high in a large Dutch oven or pot.
- Add the onion and garlic, stir and cook until the onion is translucent. Reduce heat if needed so the onion does not burn.
- Add the diced carrots, parsnip, turnip, sweet potato and rutabaga and saute a minute longer.
- Add the quart of reserved chicken broth and 4 additional cups water.
- Add the salt and black pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, stirring several times. Do not over cook the vegetables – the rutabaga will crumble.
- Add the dry egg noodles, chopped parsley and 4 additional cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook 10 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings, salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve in soup bowls with additional parsley for garnish.
- Leftover soup may be frozen.