Warmer-than-usual weather notwithstanding, January is the sick season - the time when flu cases usually peak. When illness creeps into your house, nothing soothes like homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
You might be tempted to just open a can, but homemade soup is so tasty and simple that Christopher Nasatka, a chef instructor at Baltimore International College, uses it as a way to have students practice their knife skills. A basic mirepoix - a mixture of chopped carrots, onions and celery - flavors chicken or turkey cooked as you like. If you don't have homemade chicken stock on hand, a good low-sodium variety from the market is fine.
Though many recipes - including the one from the Food Network's Tyler Florence below - call for cooking noodles in the soup, Nasatka likes to make them separately and add them just before serving, after the soup has been taken off the heat. That way, he says, they won't absorb so much liquid - and you can use another pasta or rice to vary leftover soup the next night.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2 -inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 -inch-thick slices
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.
Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
Per serving (based on 6 servings): 307 calories, 23 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 31 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 58 milligrams cholesterol, 1,098 milligrams sodium
Christopher Nasatka, a chef instructor at Baltimore International College, offers tips for great Chicken Noodle Soup:
Layer thicker vegetable pieces (such as carrots) on the bottom of the pot for even cooking.
Grilling chicken before adding it to the soup pumps up flavor.
Consider adding cooked noodles at the last minute so you can substitute rice tomorrow.
If you use store-bought stock, choose a low-sodium variety and add your own salt as needed.
Is your soup still too salty? Cut a peeled raw potato in half and boil it in the soup for 10 minutes, then remove and discard.