My mom was in the hospital a couple weeks ago (she's doing a lot better, thank goodness), and I had really wanted to have something warm and comforting waiting for her when she was released. What better than the classic chicken soup, right? My mom's chicken soup is pretty epic in its deliciousness, but I never really paid enough attention whilst she was making it to know how to make it (Lesson to be learned kids: pay attention when your parents/grandfolks/random family members cook). I was nervous, but, this was for my mamma. Gotta keep calm, and carry on.
I decided to use PW's Recipe for Chicken with Noodles as a guide, because, well...I just love her.
I started with, well, a whole chicken. I went to my supermarket and picked out a nice kosher bird; it was either 4-5 lbs, and got it cut up by the butcher. I was ready to make soup from scratch, but I don't think I'm ready to dismember a chicken on my own. Just not on that level yet. I just asked him to cut it up for soup, and he obliged.
I washed my little birdie pieces with cold water and fresh lemon juice...because that's what we Caribbeans do. When I see people preparing chicken on TV, or even in a friend's home, I always get skittish when they don't wash the chicken....do they want it to taste like chicken coop and...fluids? Anyway, I washed each piece and dried them. No pictures of this because I didn't want chicken-y essence all over my cell phone.
I put my chicken pieces in a big ol' stock pot and covered them with 4 quarts (and a little more) of water, seasoned with sea salt. In the recipe, she uses what looks to be a Le Creuset dutch oven, which I do have at home...but I got paranoid and thought that I would need something bigger.
I brought the water to a rolling boil, then dropped the heat to medium and let it simma simma for about 30 minutes.
While that was going on, I diced up some carrots and celery. I usually hate celery, but I love it in soup. All that acerbic flavor is cooked out, and it really mellows in the broth.
I would've added a potato or some parsnips...but I forgot to pick them up at the market. :-(
After the 30 minutes was up, this is what the broth and chicken pieces looked like:
See that glossy stuff on the top? That's schmaltz, or chicken fat. I don't skim that....cause it's good. I took out the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon, and kept the broth simmering on low.
THE FUN PART: DEMOLITION.
Take two forks...AND SHRED! I used the forks to take as much meat as I could off the bones. This was FLIPPING HOT, so I tried to be very careful.
Such a beautiful pile of chicken goodness. I put ALL the bones back in the broth and covered up the meat with foil to keep it warm. Simmer for another 45 minutes...this soup making takes a while, so do yourself a favor, and start this ish early. Or invest in a pressure cooker, if you're in a hurry. Or, if you're REALLY in a hurry, get some soup in a can, ya lazy bum.
I walked around my house a bit, took a little nap, then came back to take out the bones. They looked so sad and depleted...oh well. Their loss is my gain. I threw in my veggies, and added some seasoning: thyme, lots of black pepper, and dried parsley. Then another 10 minutes of cooking to let everything get friendly.
See that big white square? That's a flat noodle. I bought a bag of nifty Pennsylvania Dutch-style noodles, broke them up in the bag, and added them in with the chicken meat after the 10 minutes. I forgot to take a picture. I'm only human, guys!! Let this cook until the noodles soften, and then.....
In PW's recipe, she added a little mixture of flour and water to thicken the soup...I decided against that because I just wanted a traditional chicken noodle soup. BUT, next time I will def use a lot less water, and the dutch oven style pot, because I feel like I had to boil the bones and stuff a little longer to really get that chicken-y flavor. Less water = less time to get to the concentrated flavor.
This was ready by the time my mom woke up from her post-hospital nap...and she loved every bit of it. She had two big-ass servings!! I was so proud that I could give her what she'd been giving me for years: bowl after bowl of love.