Have you ever had one of those days where your interior monologue is too melodramatic even for yourself? One of those “my throat hurts and work is so stressful and my back aches and oh what’s it all foooor” kinds of days?
I call those chicken soup days, and I’m hanging out there right about…now.
Chicken soup seems to cure, or nearly cure, almost anything: sore throats, body aches, winter malaise, work-related stress. I haven’t been brainwashed by the Campbell Soup Company, I promise. People have been eating chicken soup for centuries. Even the Ancient Egyptians prescribed chicken soup for the common cold. And if it was good enough for Queen Nefertiti, then it’s good enough for me.
There actually are scientific reasons behind the world’s fixation on chicken soup, whether it’s Jewish matzo ball soup or Greek avgolemono. The steam from the soup helps clear congested nasal passageways, and the salty broth draws out liquid from swollen glands and reduces inflammation and soreness. And because it’s easy to digest, chicken soup is easy to handle on an iffy stomach.
But mostly, chicken soup just tastes good. There’s something so comforting about it. Maybe it’s because most people start eating chicken soup as kids, often fed by their mothers and fathers, but it’s one of those foods that can make you feel completely at home. And nothing beats real, homemade chicken soup.
The problem is, when you’re a working girl with an interior monologue histrionic enough to rival Paris Hilton, you don’t always have the full day it takes to make the real thing. You need a shortcut — and one that doesn’t involve the words “Heat & Serve.” So I came up with this recipe that tastes pretty close to the real deal. It may not be Mom-mom’s soup, but on a weeknight, it’s as close as I’m going to get.
I think I feel better already.
Soul-Warming Chicken Noodle Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium to large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch coins
4 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only
3/4 to 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 cups egg noodles
7-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped dill
Salt and pepper
To prep the leeks, slice them in half lengthwise and cut them into 1/4-inch pieces. Place the leeks in a colander and rinse with water to remove any dirt or sand. Drain the leeks and pat dry with a paper towel.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and saute until the onions are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add 7 cups of the chicken broth, followed by the carrots, celery, leeks, chicken and noodles, adding more broth as necessary to immerse the chicken, vegetables and noodles completely.
Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken thighs from the soup, and let the rest of the soup continue simmering for 5 minutes more. Using two forks, shred the chicken thighs. Once the soup has finished simmering, return the chicken to the pot and add the chopped dill. Give the soup a good stir, then remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: 4-6 servings