We are firmly in soup season and I don’t think there are many things more satisfying than homemade soup on a brisk afternoon (although it’s 70 degrees today in NYC, so I guess not exactly brisk) with a big hunk of crusty bread. A big pot of soup is one of my favorite week long meals…because you can make one batch and enjoy for several lunches and dinners, maybe sprucing it up now and then with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of herbs, or a flurry of grated cheese.
Last week I made just classic chicken noodle soup because everyone in my family loves it without question, plus there seems to be a lot of illness going around so I thought this might ward off infirmity and other bugs.I made the chicken broth with the leftover carcasses of two roast chickens (I always roast two at the same time, same amount of work, twice the amount of leftover chicken for the week!), but first picked off any big pieces of chicken for adding back later.
Next I saute a large onion (finely chopped), at least 4 carrots because I like my soup to be carroty (peeled and also chopped in slightly bigger chunks), and 4 celery stalks (sliced thin), in olive oil along with some salt and pepper until softened a bit. Then I add the carcasses, cover them with water, and add a bay leaf and stems of some parsley (reserve the leaves for later). If you happen to think of it ahead of time you can also save the rind from a wedge of parmesan cheese and add that as well for extra flavor.
Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for about an hour.
Meanwhile make your pasta separately. You can use any shape you like, my favorite are the small tubes called ditalini, but I also use alphabet pasta if I can fine it or little stars.
When the broth looks to be a light golden brown turn off the heat and skim off any scummy stuff on the surface. Remove the chicken carcasses and parsley stems. Taste the broth to see if it needs more salt and pepper. Add the cooked noodles and stir pieces of the reserved pieces of chicken (if you like your chicken noodle soup heavy on the chicken, then use a supermarket rotisserie chicken to supplement).
Serve while warm with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley and/or parmesan. I also like to put a big piece of crusty bread with butter into the bowl and have it sort of break down and thicken the broth. Feel free to try that as well.
You can also save the broth and use it for any of your favorite vegetable puree soups. Enjoy!