Friday, September 12, 2008

The Ultimate Comfort Food

In honor of my friend Stephanie, and her recently multi-tasking posts, today's post will combine several themes that have been on my mind this week. Normally, this is Foodie Friday on this blog, so today's post will (finally!) feature a new recipe. (Sorry I've been away from blogging so much recently!) And I've been miserably sick most of the week, so the recipe will be one that is helping to get me well! And lastly, running out of this more priceless than gold commodity earlier in the week reminded me of a universal truth I must have forgotten: no household should ever be without homemade chicken soup in the freezer! Because here's truth #2: you won't feel up to making any when you really need it - even if you've already got the ingredients on hand!

I also need to give a big shout out to my wonderful husband, who (with a little bit of coaching) made this for me last night, when my fever was 103 and I could barely see straight. He protested a little bit at first, saying he didn't know how, but I promised to whisper directions pitifully from my perch on the couch talk him through it. I had to laugh, because once he figured out that soup is a wonderful use for leftovers, vegetables languishing in the fridge and just about anything else you want to throw in it, he started asking if I wanted this, that or the other in there too. Hubs hates to see food to go to waste, but I stopped him when he got to the beautiful tomato hanging around on the counter (the same one I forgot to slice and serve for hamburger toppings for last weekend's party). I've made lots of yummy soup recipes with tomato, but they all say either "Italian" or "Mexican" to me. I didn't want this soup to be overwhelmed with tomato, so I vetoed that addition :-) Later I laughed at myself - last night I was so congested I couldn't taste anything. Wouldn't have mattered what was in it!

So anyway, what we ended up with is something wonderful indeed. I am very pleased with it, since it's slightly different (and I think better) than my usual chicken noodle soup recipe. I like it so much that I think I'll make this my new standard, just varying the veggies by season or what's on hand.

Try it sometime and freeze any leftovers. When someone in your family needs something warm, nutritious and yummy, you'll have it ready to go! Is there anything more comforting than homemade soup?

Love, Dahrlin'

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
(Makes 1 pot; about 8 servings)
** see also notes below

1 can cream of chicken soup (not condensed)
2-3 cans water, as needed
2 large cooked chicken breasts, or any leftover cooked chicken
Chicken base** to taste
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
Baby carrots or sliced carrots
Yellow squash (2), chopped
Zucchini (1), chopped
Frozen baby lima beans
Elbow macaroni (couple handfuls)
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil

Saute vegetables in olive oil for a few minutes. Add soup, water, and about 1 Tbsp chicken base (to start; you can add more later if you need it). Add chicken and bring to a simmer; check seasonings and add more chicken base if you want. You'll use the soup itself to cook the pasta, so add more water if needed (just a little at a time; you don't want it super-thin :-). Return soup to a simmer, add pasta** and cook about 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir in herbs and serve to anyone in need of serious comfort food.

**Recipe notes: As with all soups, this is really more of a method than a specific recipe - hence all the notes. I am giving the ingredients (and method) I used, because they are what I had on hand, but any mild-flavored veggie or bean would work. Vary the proportions as you see fit. The most important thing here is protein and nutrition! On the canned soup, I used Health Valley Organic Cream of Chicken, which I just discovered (it's super!). For the chicken base, I use the Better than Bullion found in the grocery store soup aisle. They're absolutely right - the flavor is WAAYYY better than bullion cubes or granules (but if you use those, just add to taste - remember, you can always add more, but you can't take it back out). And on the pasta, if you're going to freeze the soup, just add (separately cooked) pasta to the portions you're serving; the pasta will have a much better texture if you don't freeze it in the soup. I like Barilla pasta because it's got those little ridges that hold sauce or broth.

Oh - and because I was sick and figured I need the calories, I might have added a little half and half to my servings. Even though I couldn't taste it until I ate some today, it was divine. But again, do that after you thaw any that you freeze. Don't add it before freezing.



Angie's Spot said...

Oh my, this recipe is definitely being added to my recipe box! Thanks for sharing and I hope you're feeling better! xoxo

Michelle said...

I love soups like this -- and chicken base (bouillon is wayyy too salty for me!). I love the French one that used to come in with the "chef's hat" on top, but now it's just in a normal jar. Demi-glasse? Something like that. I'm out of it currently sadly. But man, just a tiny little spoon of that by itself. Heaven!

Hope you're feeling better!

Live.Love.Eat said...

This really looks good!!! I sure hope you're feeling better. The last time I had a fever like that I was crying like a baby. I will never forget so I really hope you're OK!!!!!!!! And thank you for the shout out, you're so sweet!!!!!!

Angela said...

Thanks girls!

Angie - yep, do try it - never thought I'd find anything more comforting than Campbell's, but this is!

Michelle - I agree, boullion is waaaay too salty and with not much flavor added - just overwhelmingly salty. And yes, I think demi-glace is the name the French give this kind of base - super-concentrated broth, essentially. I haven't tried the beef one yet but will this fall, with stews and such. Yum!

Steph - thanks so much! The worst of my illness lasted only about 72 hours, but yeah, at points in there I was ready to cry I was just so miserable. Fever has way of making everything else hurt worse. Ugh!

Hugs to all of you!

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