Monday, February 6, 2017

Good Ol' Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

I felt it coming on last week. A sniffle...which led to a stuffed nose... which led to a slight headache... and I knew exactly what I was dealing with. I started drinking fresh grated ginger tea and some elderberry syrup and decided it was the perfect day to make a pot of soup to remedy the situation (and the soul, really!) Why does it do the soul good anyways? Why does it make one feel so warm and comforted? I'm not sure if I know the perfect answer to that, but there is something about 'chicken noodle soup' that presses all the right buttons when your feeling under the weather...
Well, I guess you can 'google' reasons of how the nutrient-dense and well-balanced chicken-noodle-soup triggers an anti-inflammatory immune system migration of the cells in the mucus membranes that need the immune response. Or something like that ;) So there is actual research and science backing it up. Which I just think is so amazing and hilarious at the same time because there is also the part beyond the research that the soup just is that.... a warm, comfort medicine for the soul and body when one's feeling low and grey. I don't know if I actually need the research here, and maybe it is just nostalgia for nourishing food while sick, but I would say that there is something the body does indeed love about the combination of the broth, herbs, chicken, veggies and noodles. It's just nourishing...magic.
My secrets to a good pot of chicken noodle soup include:

-Big chunks of carrots and chicken. I like a 'meaty' chunk of carrot and a hearty bite of chicken. Ones that you can easily scoop out of the broth so you can get a perfect bite. I even shop at the market and grocery store for carrots imagining how they would look in soup. No itty bitty chunks here. Good big-full-mouthful chunks, baby.

-Fresh herbs! This seems like it might not matter. But I am telling you- it really does! I use not so traditional herbs for chicken noodle soup too because I love them so much. I chop fresh sage, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh parsley and fresh leeks. I really think it makes it better. I also grate in fresh juicy tumeric, ginger and garlic. These add so much color and flavor as well. The kind of juicy flavor you sometimes miss in dried spices and herbs. Obviously, if I don't have fresh in the kitchen while I am stirring up a pot, I improvise with what I got and it's usually a mix of whatever herbs I can find in the fridge, freezer or pantry. But I know- if I really want to do it well. Fresh herbs just make it.

-Bone broth. Here is where you can pack nutrient dense collagen and proteins to help the immune system jump back faster after it has been challenged. And the is where it's at when it comes to equal flavors of chicken and salt and depth of deliciousness. I make my own usually whenever I have extra meat bones and leftover veggies and greens. So I have a few jars stashed away in the fridge and freezer. I have also found that organic Costco chicken stock is a super great easy alternative if you don't have bone broth.

Stephanie's Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
{gluten, dairy, nut, seed, egg, sugar and soy-free}

1 large onion finely chopped
1 cup of celery finely chopped, about 6 stalks
1 bunch of green onion or leeks, finely chopped
2 inches of fresh turmeric, finely grated, about 1 heaping TB
1 inch of fresh ginger, finely grated, almost a TB's worth
6 large garlic cloves finely grated, about 2 TB's worth of garlic
2-3 TB of avocado or olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper (1/2 ts. of each)

In an 5-6 quart pot, saute the above ingredients to get your soup base cooking. Saute until everything starts cooking down and getting soft and coming together. Then add the...

2 cups of chopped carrots, about 6 large carrots
8 cups of broth (bone, veggie, chicken)
possible additional water if you want the soup a little more soupy or brothy

After you add the carrots, let them cook into the saute mix, then after a few minutes... add the broth. This is usually when you need to wait a little bit for the broth to cook with the carrots and get the heat back up to a boil temp. Keep cooking and you may need to turn down the heat if it starts boiling too crazy...and thats when you can add in the fresh herbs and greens. Pour them all in and keep stirring. Let sit and simmer for another 30 or so minutes after that...

fresh sage, 1-2 TB finely chopped
fresh rosemary, 1-2 TB finely chopped
fresh thyme, 1-2 TB finely chopped
1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup of finely chopped lacinato kale

While the soup is cooking ands simmering you can bake the thawed out or fresh chicken in the oven and then cut up into big chunks to then pour into the simmering soup not long after you add the greens....

2 pounds of chicken tenders/breasts pre-baked in salt/pepper and olive oil and a little broth then chopped in chunks to pour into soup

Add a sprinkle more of sea salt and black pepper here. Not too much- just a pinch really.

Then lastly you can either add your noodles 2 ways: 
You can  pre-cook your noodles and only add them in when you serve ups bowl to avoid them getting mushy in the soup over time. Or if you do not mind your noodles being cooked in the soup you can add about 8 ounces of your favorite GF pasta to the soup right after the chicken was added and all the carrots are soft. You could even turn off the heat here because the noodles will just soften in the boiling broth and be fully cooked within 10-15 minutes. I use usually a spiral or tube brown rice noodle... but have also used macaroni or spaghetti or whatever noodle I have on hand... 

You can see from my pictures (take on day 2 ;) that  the noodle have broken up a bit. I don't mind the broken thick noodles too much, but if you do... I would suggest just keeping them separate and adding them in whenever you serve up the steamy hot soup...

After all the parts come together, give a good stir to the pot and get ready to serve. I serve with a good hearty slice of my bread... or rolls....and a large soup spoon to do some slurping on ;)

I hope you are not under the weather and wishing someone would make you some soup- I hope that you maybe give this soup a try without the sickies connected to it. But if some some reason you feel that sniffle coming on- I hope you have enough strength to make a big pot of chicken noodle soup to get you through it.

Much love and light to you, xoxo

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