Grandma-Style Chicken Noodle Soup
Grandma-Style Chicken Noodle Soup (Deb Perelman)
8 hearty servings
At some point, and with the best of intentions, chicken noodle soup has gotten more complicated, intimidating, and expensive than it needs to be, and I’m guilty as any cook as charged. Almost every first-page search result for chicken noodle soup implores you to start with canned chicken stock and then add chicken (sometimes already cooked) with the understandable goal of speed, but at the expense of efficiency. On the other end of the spectrum, some of the more popular recipes out there—with a chef-level “best” and “ultimate” in mind—require a couple birds just to make the broth and then have you discard them when you’re done, using additional fresh chicken to finish, as if there is nothing else a boiled chicken is good for.
I don’t say this to tut-tut someone else’s soup happy place or warble about the good old days; I throw no shade at boxed broths, bouillons, and shredded rotisserie chickens and don’t think my way is the only way. I just think it’s a bummer that somewhere along the way, a really useful piece of kitchen knowledge has been lost: how to boil a chicken. How to buy a chicken, a couple onions, a bag of carrots, and celery, and some egg noodles at a store and turn it into eight substantial bowls of dinner. How to stretch $20 of ingredients into a series of meals you cannot buy anywhere else for that price. How to wake up on a day that’s too cold or too dark or knowing that a flu is closing in on you . . . and know exactly how to make it better.
And I think if we knew how to do those things, we would, because this recipe is hard not to feel victorious about once you know how to make it. For years I too bounced between overly hasty methods that left me short on flavor, and overly complicated methods that meant homemade chicken noodle soup became a rarity. So when we made it this way one cold Sunday afternoon, simmering away and leaving us free to be lazy (you’ll need between 2 and 3 1/2 hours, which allows for at least one Harry Potter movie), it was a revelation, and this has become a frequent Sunday tradition ever since. It’s a satisfying result to coax out of a few ingredients and a triumphant feeling to start the week with Monday’s dinner already made.