Thursday, January 18, 2018

My Chicken Noodle Soup

The Recipe: Chicken Noodle Soup the way I make it, a meaty, noodle-y soup in a rich, flavorful stock. It just might be medicinal, in fact, when the cold and flu seasons are at their peaks, I call it "Get Well Soon Chicken Soup".

And hey, while I know strict carb watchers won't stand for noodles in their soup, this soup is actually low carb – that's thanks to an easy technique (really, just time and patience) that allows just a few noodles to plump into an illusion of oh-so-many. The result? Chicken noodle soup, just over a hundred calories per cup with 13 grams of protein – and the lots of noodles.

My Chicken Noodle Soup ♥, with a special technique to turn just a few noodles into what seems like many more. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. And yes, Low Carb.

"Is there chicken soup?" he asked plaintively, eyes and nose red, holding back a sneeze. This man, this big hardy man, needed chicken soup. "Of course," I said, wondering if it were true and if not, how long it'd take me to deliver a steaming bowl of rich broth laden with slurpy, comforting noodles.

And so began the odyssey to document – to refine, to perfect – "my chicken noodle soup." Now I've been making big pots of chicken soup regularly forever and ever. But given my hapdash, hmmm, the dictionary says I mean slapdash no-recipe, never-the-same-pot-twice approach to chicken noodle soup back then, some pots were excellent, others forgettable.

But in last years, I've come to believe in perfecting the dishes we make most often: a little less slapdash, a lot more substance and style.

It turns out? I'm pretttttty darn particular about my chicken soup.

My Chicken Noodle Soup ♥, with a special technique to turn just a few noodles into what seems like many more. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. And yes, Low Carb.

Alanna's No-Budging Rules for Chicken Noodle Soup

Now you make chicken soup how you make chicken soup. But when you're at my house? This is what's on the stove when someone's down with a cold or an easy, comfort-food supper is in order.

There's lots of chicken and it's diced, not pulled into strands. That's for texture contrast with the noodles.

The noodles are plump and flavorful – and plentiful without dominating the whole pot. That's why I call for just a few noodles, but let them plump up.

The vegetables are firm, not mushy. That's why they go in last. And no "added" vegetables, just carrots and celery.

You'll Like My Chicken Noodle Soup If You Like ...

... a hearty, meaty soup
... with rich-tasting broth
... firm vegetables
... plump noodles, just enough, not too many


Hands-on time: 15 minutes over 45 minutes
Resting time aka "noodle plumping" time: 1 hour
Time to table: 1 3/4 hours
Makes 11 cups

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (don't skip, it makes all the difference ...)
  • 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 pound (450g) cooked chicken meat from a rotisserie chicken, preferably diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste (be generous)
  • Generous black pepper

  • 2 - 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 2 - 3 ribs celery, cut in chunks on an angle
  • 2 ounces (55g) medium-size dried pasta
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro

MAKE SOUP! In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat until shimmery. Stir in the onion and thyme, let them gently cook until the onion begins to soften. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Add the chicken, salt and pepper, bring the stock back to a boil.

All at once, add the carrots, celery, pasta and parsley/cilantro, bring the stock back to a boil. Once it does, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and let the pot simmer, uncovered (so the broth can cook down a bit to concentrate its flavors ...) and stirring occasionally, for as long as the pasta package instructs. Test a noodle, make sure it's done, the noodles won't "cook" any more, they'll just plump up.

PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER Once the noodles are cooked, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let it sit for an hour. Yes, one whole hour, it pays to plan ahead! During that critical hour's time, the vegetables will stay firm but the noodles will soak up the delicious stock. What starts off seeming like a totally skimpy amount of pasta turns into what tastes like a lot of plump, slurpy noodles totally worth the wait!

QUICK HEAT! Now turn the heat back on and bring the soup back to temperature. Taste the broth and adjust the salt and pepper, do be generous. Enjoy the soup with gusto!

LEFTOVER CHICKEN SOUP So good! It keeps for a couple of days. And because the noodles are already so plump, they don't absorb any more stock.

STOCK Keep things moving along by heating the chicken stock separately. I do it in the microwave, in fact, half the time I'm starting off with frozen chicken stock. If you don't have homemade chicken stock but are starting with a rotisserie chicken, time everything so that you make the stock first, then the soup. To do this, just pull the meat off the chicken (and refrigerate it until you're ready to make the soup itself), then drop the wings/bones/back into a stockpot with about 10 cups of water and let it simmer for an hour or two, more detail here, it's my No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock. Or use a good-quality chicken stock concentrate, over the years, I've used Better Than Bouillon with good results. Do watch the salt, however, you may not need to use as much as I do since my chicken stock has no added salt. One pot, I used half chicken stock and half corn stock (not "corn stalk" but "corn stock", that's what you get when you simmer fresh corn cobs (with out their kernels) on the stove for a few house. It was wonderful!

CHICKEN I swear, God's gift to home cooks is a just-roasted rotisserie chicken and that's the meat I use for chicken soup. The chicken must taste good, however. The best-tasting rotisserie chicken I've found for the price is at Sam's Club, they're often big and just $5. (Where do you buy yours? Let me know!) Not into rotisserie chicken? You could bake some chicken breasts or poach them, as I do for Lemon Chive Chicken Salad. Do watch/measure how much meat you use, a pound of cooked chicken makes for a really meaty soup, you could use a little more without trouble but if you get up to a pound and a half, say, increase the other ingredients proportionally. It's a small thing, perhaps, but I think the chicken pieces should be diced in neat cubes, not torn like pulled chicken.

OTHER VEGGIES To my taste, Chicken Noodle Soup isn't Chicken Noodle Soup without chunks of carrot and celery. And while I'm the queen of adding all kinds of extra vegetables to nearly everything else, to my taste, other veggies have no place in chicken soup! No zucchini, no okra, no purple carrots from Trader Joe's, no parsnips. Stick to the basics!

PASTA Now this is important. Stick with the two ounces of pasta. Two ounces is going to seem like no-pasta-at-all until after the pot has rested for an hour. If you put in more than two ounces? The pasta will absorb all the stock and you'll be left with noodle soup, not Chicken Noodle Soup. Now I know you're going to ask, can't we just cook the noodles separately and add them to the soup? We could ... but it's not the same. The noodles just taste so much better when they're cooked in chicken stock! Choose medium-size noodles, my favorites are medium penne and those corkscrew-style noodles (what're they called, again?) from the blue boxes from the Italian company De Cecco. Ha! De Cecco even sells directly on Amazon! However, at least here in St. Louis, De Cecco is easily found in nearly every grocery except those that only stock their own private label products. Steer away from the tiny pastas like riisi and ditalini. I avoid Trader Joe's pasta entirely, it's too-too soft.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH MY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP Whenever I make soup for supper, I often time it so that there's fresh bread too, usually Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe but some times cornbread, either Simple Cast Iron Southern Corn Bread or Sweet Cornbread. Add a salad and there's still room for a little dessert! Even pie!

Per Cup: 109 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 30mg Cholesterol; 200mg Sodium; 7g Carb; 1g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 13g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 2 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = scant 1 cup (12g protein). This recipe has been "Alanna-sized".

For the record, I already know that My Chicken Noodle Soup warrants the coveted spot for 2018's "Most Useful" Recipe, just one recipe per year, they're all listed here, Best-Ever “Most Useful” Recipes 2002 – Present.

Soup, Soup & More Soup

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
How to Make Homemade Vegetable Soup Hamburger Soup Homemade Lentil Soup
Turkey Sweet Potato Soup White Chicken Chili Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms
~ more soup recipes ~
~ more noodle soup recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

© Copyright 2018 Kitchen Parade

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Kitchen Parade’s Best-Ever “Most Useful” Recipes – Just One Per Year Since 2002

Today I'm taking a long look back, selecting a single best / most-useful recipe from each year of Kitchen Parade's long history since way back in 2002. Together? I guess you could call this the "mother" of all best-recipe lists :-). But in my household, these few recipes are the most "useful" recipes, all committed to 3x5 cards for quick access.

But first ... this is the time of year when many of us reach out to say thanks to those who bring meaning to our lives. So please, accept my thanks. I'm grateful for your time, your consideration, your comments, your emails, your likes, your shares, your PINs – and most of all that you invite me into your kitchen, trusting me to inspire the meals you prepare for those you most love, the shared curiosity for seasonal ingredients and healthy techniques, the ideas and pleasures that make the kitchen table the gathering place in so many homes.

Today Kitchen Parade is well over 500 columns, a body of work that gives me immense pride. But it would be mere pixels waxing and waning on the internet without all of you. I thank you, I thank you.

Kitchen Parade's best recipes 2002 - present, just one per year ♥

Wanna skip over how this recipe collection came to be?
Skip Straight to simple lists:
~ Recipes by Year ~
~ Recipes by Course ~

Time Gives Perspective, Yes?

Ever since my soon-to-be 92-year old father came to live with Jerry and me here in St. Louis in 2016, I cook more than ever but share new recipes – I'm painfully aware – less than ever.

So as 2017 drew to a close, I looked with wonder into the traditional year-end "Best Recipes of 2017" collections from bloggers whose work I admire. But for me in 2016? and again in 2017? There were just too few new recipes to cull out a meaningful list of favorites.

A friend's question sparked an idea. "What is the one thing I cook most often?"

A quick scan of Recipes by Year – that list's all up-to-date, thank you very much! – revealed that in each year's recipes, just one stood out from all the others as one I return to over and over again and is therefore "most useful". It was instructive, really!

(And for the record, I cook from all the recipes on Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture Every.Single.Day. It's just that some recipes I make really-really often, especially because like all seasonal cooks, just a few recipes get made year-round.)

You'll see. These are the simplest of recipes, not likely ones you'll haul out for company and not even so many that can be called "supper". But they are recipes that move to the table quickly and inexpensively and with little fuss. No special ingredients. No bulky equipment. Just real food made from clean ingredients with tastes that I, anyway, never tire of. Just simple food prepared well, standing the test of time.

In an age of fascination with super-fast Instapots and super-convenient Blue Apron (I'm a fan of just one, any guesses which?), these are the recipes that make both seem, well, unnecessary. I hope you find your own inspiration here, too.

For Convenience, Quick Lists


2002 Chocolate Chili
2003 Laura's Healthy Carrot Soup
2004 Alice Waters' Coleslaw
2005 Light 'n' Easy Chocolate Pudding
2006 White Chicken Chili
2007 Flaky Tender Pie Crust
2008 Baked Bacon
2009 Winter Stew
2010 Red Quinoa Salad Your Way
2011 Homemade Granola with Almonds & Apricots
2012 Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with Quinoa, Barley, Kamut & Other Grains
2013 No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock
2014 Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal
2015 Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
2016 Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette
2017 Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe
2018 Coming next week!

2009 Winter Stew
2010 Red Quinoa Salad Your Way
2012 Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with Quinoa, Barley, Kamut & Other Grains
2017 Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe


2008 Baked Bacon
2014 Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal
2017 Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe

2009 Winter Stew
2010 Red Quinoa Salad Your Way
2015 Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

2003 Laura's Healthy Carrot Soup
2002 Chocolate Chili
2006 White Chicken Chili
2018 Coming next week!

2004 Alice Waters' Coleslaw
2016 Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette

2012 Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with Quinoa, Barley, Kamut & Other Grains

2005 Light 'n' Easy Chocolate Pudding
2007 Flaky Tender Pie Crust

2011 Homemade Granola with Almonds & Apricots
2013 No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock

Kitchen Parade's Most Useful Recipes 2002 – Present
Just One Recipe from Each Year

2002 – 2004
Chocolate Chili, Carrot Soup & Coleslaw

Chocolate Chili Laura's Healthy Carrot Soup Alice Waters' Coleslaw

[left] Chocolate Chili is my oldest and still most favorite recipe for homemade chili, it starts with ground beef (or venison or turkey or ...) and the usual suspects of onion and tomato. What makes Chocolate Chili special are the spices and yes, cocoa powder. A few years back, I really amped up the spices and whoa, is that ever good! No beans! Quick TIP: Serve Chocolate Chili (or your own favorite chili) with mashed potatoes or Mashed Potatoes and Carrots, this is an old farmwife trick to feed lots of hard-working farm hands!

[center] Laura's Healthy Carrot Soup is perfect for a light lunch or supper, it tastes ultra-rich and creamy but the "cream" comes not from cream but slow-cooked onion and potato plus a little skim or low-fat milk. Total comfort food! Beautiful color, yes?!

[right] Alice Waters' Coleslaw is such a fan favorite, so bright and fresh! Last fall, I made a quadruple batch for a family-wedding pig roast, gone that went! It's vegan, no mayonnaise, just lots of lime and cilantro and a touch of jalapeño. Try it with fish tacos too!

2005 – 2007
Chocolate Pudding, White Chicken Chili & The Flakiest, Most Tender Pie Crust You Can Imagine

Light 'n' Easy Chocolate Pudding White Chicken Chili Flaky Tender Pie Crust

[left] Light 'n' Easy Chocolate Pudding, just five ingredients! That makes it perfect for when "supper's a little skimpy" (my mom kept a stable of simple dessert recipes like this, I do too!) or you know, a late-night chocolate attack.

[center] White Chicken Chili, so many times this one warms up a chilly evening. These days, I usually cut up a rotisserie chicken for the meat, extra easy, that is!

[right] Flaky Tender Pie Crust is a wonder! So many cooks have found useful information in the many tips and ideas in this step-by-step photo tutorial, How to Make Flaky Tender Pie Crust. This crust is made with half butter (for flavor) and half Crisco or lard (for tenderness). If you've lost your pie crust mojo, this just might help! (It did, for me, back in 2007 when our friend Anne Cori, aka the "Pie Whisperer", gave me a pie crust boot camp!

2008 – 2010
Bacon, People! Plus Two Concept Recipes, Winter Stew & Red Quinoa Supper Salad

Baked Bacon Winter Stew Red Quinoa Salad Your Way

[left] Baked Bacon, how to cook perfect bacon in the oven, it's how Jerry cooks bacon every chance he gets! I appreciate that most of the bacon grease renders off, that makes for really nice crispy bacon. The bacon fat doesn't go to waste though, we collect it in a mason jar and use it for cooking.

[center] Winter Stew, this is such a useful recipe during the winter, especially because it needs only an hour in the oven, not an all-day cook. Winter Stew is what I call a "concept recipe" – start with a protein (beef, venison, pork, etc.) and then add on-hand vegetables and a small touch of fruit. Whatever the combo, it just seems to work. Last fall I tried some meaty pork ribs with tomatillos, oh that was good! Cook with confidence, no recipe required!

[right] Red Quinoa Salad Your Way is a wonderful choice for Meatless Monday, it always surprises the meat eaters at my table how satisfying a supper salad can be. Once again, this is a "concept recipe" – but with lots of tips on what to be sure to include to make the main-dish salad extra delicious.

2011 – 2013
Homemade Granola, a Healthy-Grain Pilaf and Oh, Baby, Great Oatmeal

Homemade Granola with Almonds & Apricots Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock

[left] Homemade Granola with Almonds & Apricots is one recipe that a few years back, I'd never have guessed would make this list. But truly? I make this recipe over and over, it sits out on the counter in a pretty blue vintage mason jar. We don't eat granola as a breakfast cereal but it adds a nice bit of crunch and chew to our morning oatmeal, to a fruit salad or a Greek yogurt parfait, etc. This very week, I'm experimenting with a possible new ingredient that comes highly recommended!

[center] Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with Quinoa, Barley, Kamut & Other Grains is itself an update from a long-time favorite recipe from A Veggie Venture, Cook’s Illustrated Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice. But instead of or in addition to brown rice, I use a mixture of grains plus some spices. So good, this stuff and doesn't it just look like it tastes good?! Always a plus!

[right] No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock, there's just no counting how often I make stock, it's such an ingrained habit. Right now the basement freezer is overflowing with frozen chicken (and beef) stock, here's How to Freeze Stock in Canning Jars.

2014 – 2016
An Exceptional Oatmeal, Supper on the Fly and a Vibrant Salad Dressing

Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette

[left] Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal, oh my, this oatmeal, a blend of steel-cut and old-fashioned oats! If it were just me at the table, it's all there'd be for breakfast, one morning topped with fruit, another day with fried eggs, another day with leftover sautéed or roasted vegetables. It makes a big batch and keeps and reheats well so it's great for morning breakfast prep. A note, the post needs updating, today I use a lot more liquid, that means less stirring, easier cleanup and even fewer calories.

[center] Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas are a go-to supper for me, in fact, I stock small cans of green chiles and bottles of salsa verde, just to make it on a whim whenever I stop by Sam's Club for prescriptions and a rotisserie chicken. The table lights up when I make these enchiladas!

[right] Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette is so handy, a super-simple salad dressing that's just brightens up greens and vegetables. If you make a salad every night, add this to your list of homemade salad dressings. Because really? This simple salad dressing is a stand-in for the many dressings I make one after the other, My Favorite Dressing, Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing, German Salad Dressing and Homemade Thousand Island Dressing.

2017 – Years Future
Our Daily Bread (Whole-Grain, So Adaptable) ... and Then What?!

Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe

[left] Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe is the single recipe that inspired this post because no doubt, this is the number one single recipe I've made in the past two years. For more than a year, I just made it again and again, we never tire of it, perhaps because I time the baking for warm just-from-the-oven slices when soup is on the supper menu? (The rest is used for morning toast, except we don't own a toaster anymore, we just brush on a little olive oil and make Fried Bread.) But in the last couple of months, I've adapted the recipe – just a few changes, all the same simplicity – into three entirely different breads plus hamburger/sandwich buns which I hope to share in 2018. Truly, I've fallen in love with recipes like this, they are central to how I cook now. I think of it as "fewer recipes, more variations".

[center] Yes, I already know (or think I know!) what recipe will be the "most useful" new recipe in 2018, perhaps because I've made it a zillion times beginning way way back when I was learning to cook in the 1980s and especially now, in 2016 and 2017? Any guesses?!

[right] What will it be? what will it be??? I'm already thinking ahead, wondering which recipe in my backlog of new recipes to share, just might rise to this level?

More "Best of the Year" Favorite Recipes from Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

© Copyright 2017 Kitchen Parade