We all have that feeling when we want a particular dish and nothing else will do. That’s comfort food; that one thing we love so much that we can have it again, and again, and again (you get the point). Eating such dishes gives us satisfaction and a sense of well-being unlike any other. It can be anything to your aunt’s steaming hot dumplings, to a bag of chips. My favourite nostalgic meal from my childhood is my family’s version of chicken noodle soup. I remembered that during this time of year, after I shoveled the driveway, my mom would make her chicken noodle soup and I would devour every ounce of it along with ginger tea. I have always loved it since I was a kid and to make it even more delicious, I made a few modern tweeks.
Usually, in my family’s version, store-bought chicken broth (usually full of sodium) is used. I took a different approach and made my own chicken broth from a whole chicken. It’s so easy and it’s an amazing way to use any leftover chicken bones in the kitchen (you can use it to make all kinds of broths from beef, fish and even vegetable). My time as a production cook at Goodness Me! taught me to not waste food. When I was working, we used to cook a dozen chickens and separate the meat and bones. The chicken meat is used for the soup and the bones are thrown into a huge 200L pot with a bunch of vegetable scraps, herbs, spices and water. We brought it up to a boil and let it simmer overnight and sometimes up to 18 hours (I’m not kidding). So when I come in the kitchen in the morning, it was a stunning aroma of fresh chicken broth (and “stunning” is just putting it lightly). I was always excited to strain the broth because the intense smell is just incredible.
In the traditional recipe of chicken noodle soup, they use egg noodles. In my version of chicken noodle soup, I also switch the egg noodles with glass rice noodles. It has a smooth texture with the soup, cooks much faster, and gives a nice shine to the soup. You can buy glass rice noodles easily in most asian supermarkets. I also add nappa cabbage for the added green color and soft texture. You can also get this at most asian supermarkets.
For the Chicken
1 3-4 pound chicken (1.4-1.8kg)
Lots of salt and black pepper
For the Chicken Broth
2L of water
3 white onions, coarsely chopped
3 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 head of garlic, lightly crushed
4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 3 tablespoons of dried thyme
2 bay leaves
For the Soup
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 cup of nappa cabbage, finely chopped
1 small package (454g) glass rice noodle
1 tablespoon of dried thyme, oregano, basil or rosemary
Preheat your oven to 350F (180C)
Place the chicken breast side up in a roasting pan. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken (either the breast or thighs). Roast until the chicken is lightly browned and the thermometer reaches at least 165 F (75C), about 1 hour.
Remove the pan from oven and leave the chicken to cool until you can handle it. Reserve the juices in a small bowl and shred the chicken into bite size pieces. SAVE THE BONES!
Make the broth. Break the chicken bones into smaller pieces until it can fit into the pot. Add all ingredients and bring the broth to a rapid boil. Then immediately reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Cover the pot and let it simmer for an hour or so. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a large bowl
Now make the soup. Rinse the pot and return the broth to it. Add onions, carrots, celery, nappa cabbage and herbs. Bring it up to a rapid boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Cook until all vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Lastly add the glass rice noodles. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
This recipe serves 4-6 people and can either last in the fridge for 4 days in an air-tight container or in the freezer for over 3 months in an air-tight container.