I don’t know about you, but some nights I am wiped from work and the temptation to succumb to take out, eat out, or something in a box is almost too much to resist. One meal that James and I are happy to eat any time of year is chicken noodle soup. You may think that homemade soup is something you need hours and hours for, and yes, sometimes that’s true. But on a weeknight, it really is possible to have homemade soup in under an hour.
There are a few pantry items you need to keep on hand in order to make this possible, but believe me, once you’ve done that, when you go to stare into the depths of your fridge, and suddenly realize you’ve got everything you need for this filling and healthy supper, the wash of relief and hunger might just be at equal measures.
The nice thing about this soup is that it’s mostly root vegetables, which keep in your fridge for quite some time. I’ve also got a few tips and tricks for you. Celery will keep for weeks in a fridge, so long as you wrap it tightly and completely in aluminum foil. If you want to use fresh herbs in this, know that bunches will keep in the fridge a little longer in a cup with water in the bottom, just enough to cover any roots or cut ends.
As someone who is passionate about food, you might ask how I can recommend to you stock in a box. Well, I gotta be honest. So long as I’m buying organic, I honestly don’t see the difference between me putting the stock in a resealable container and someone else doing it. If you have your own frozen stock, or have time to make some a few days before – then great. But this is one of those short cuts that isn’t filled with tons of chemicals or more salt than you would use when making it yourself. So go ahead – allow yourself this shortcut. It’s great for emergencies like a random Tuesday night when you can’t face anything else but chicken noodle soup in under an hour.
If you know you’ve got a busy week ahead, pick up a rotisserie chicken when you do your grocery shopping. You don’t even have to eat it that night. It’ll keep for several days in the refrigerator, and then you have it on hand for several dinners: chicken sandwiches, this soup, or chicken caesar salad. Pick up the vegetables in the recipe below, and you are good to go!
Weeknight Chicken Noodle Soup
makes 6 to 8 servings
2 cups pulled rotisserie chicken pieces, or 2-3 diced chicken thighs
2 parsnips, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced finely
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 leek, diced and thoroughly cleaned (Trader Joe’s sells bags of frozen chopped and cleaned leeks – these are great to keep on hand!)
1 turnip, diced
1 sprig of dill, chopped fine (or 1 tsp dried)
1 sprig of parsley, chopped fine (or 1 tsp dried)
2 boxes of organic chicken stock (stock, not broth)
salt, pepper, and season-all to taste
1 tbsp cooking oil
2-3 servings pasta, any shape you like. I used broken up angel hair. This soup is a great opportunity to use up all the broken pieces of pasta at the bottoms of all the boxes. I collect them into a ziploc for just this purpose.
Heat the tablespoon of oil in a large pan. I use a Le Creuset dutch oven or risotto pan as they are both deep enough to saute and cook the soup in. Once oil is hot, add in the chopped onion, shallot, and leek to brown. If you are using raw diced chicken thighs or breast, add now, and allow to brown. When all are translucent, add celery, carrot, parsnip, turnip and allow these bits to get some color as well. Stir often.
When all the root vegetables have started to soften, sprinkle the entire pot with kosher salt and pepper, and a seasoning like McCormick’s Season-All, Mrs. Dash, or Old Bay, if desired. Pour two boxes of chicken stock into the pot and stir thoroughly. If using rotisserie chicken pieces, add these now, as well as the parsley and dill. Also add the pasta at this time.
Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until everything is sufficiently hot and has time to marry the flavors.
When you first eat this soup, you’ll have lots of lovely broth to soak up with chunky pieces of bread. The next day, however, because of the pasta soaking up what’s left of that broth, you’ll instead have this wonderfully flavorful chicken noodle casserole that will make you doubly glad you stocked your pantry just for the purpose of making this soup. Top it with cheese, or bread crumbs, or simply eat it straight out of the oven reheated. No matter what, you’ve got two nights of dinner, done.