Chicken Noodle Soup - still the best "cure" for a cold!

So, I spent the week of Christmas at home in Minnesota. It was heavenly! So snowy everywhere, and so blissfully cold. Monday before Christmas hit -7 before windchill during the day! I love that weather - that's one part of Boston I'm not as happy about - we never get negative temperatures out here.

But, that's not the point of this post, so I will move on. My last day in MN, as I wandered to my gate in the airport, I realized that I had caught a cold. What? I was just at Mom's house for a week - why couldn't we have done this when I had a Mom around to take care of me? So, my return to Boston was highlighted by a nice little head cold. [My mom's cat had a cold that week, I'll just blame it on the cat (even though I'm pretty sure human's can't contract cat-colds).]

The first thing that happens when I get a cold is a huge craving for chicken noodle soup. That's what Mom fed us when I was a kid and ill. Chicken noodle soup, saltines, flat 7-Up, and white toast with a little butter on it. Food formula for feeling better. Well, these days, I can't eat the saltines, 7-Up, white toast, or butter. But I was sure in need of chicken noodle soup. I figured, hey, I make soup all the time now. I'll just make myself the one thing that will make me feel better while I deal with this cold.

And so, I went in search of a nice, simple chicken noodle soup recipe. The web failed me this time - I couldn't find anything simple. Why must people put so much stuff in chicken noodle soup these days? It's distracting! I ended up turning to my cookbooks, and Better Homes & Gardens won. Simplest chicken noodle soup recipe I'd seen! And so, off to Whole Foods with me to get ingredients. The recipe called for meaty chicken pieces or a whole chicken cut up. Now, I have some good knives, but they're not good enough to cut up a whole chicken. So I told the guy at the counter what I needed and what it was for, and he took pity on this poor sick girl and cut up a whole chicken for me. [I love the Whole Foods Meat Counters guys. For the record.]

I tell ya, chicken noodle soup always tasted so good when I was ill. But the smell of chicken broth simmering before the actual soup is made was heavenly - I could smell it even through the stuffed up nose I'd acquired. My new recipe for feeling better when I'm sick: get ingredients for chicken noodle soup, and spend my morning making myself soup! Mmm. I think a big reason why I enjoyed making my own chicken noodle soup from scratch was that it got me out of bed and up doing something productive. I hate being sick as a general rule because I get bored and annoyed that I don't have the energy to do normal everyday things. So, this cured my "being sick blues" in addition to making my cold feel better. Double score!

I didn't take any pictures of this soup - my camera unfortunately ran out of batteries and I need to get a new recharger for them. But, you all know what chicken noodle soup looks like, so it's not the end of the world. The important part of this soup is the aroma while cooking it anyway, and that's something no picture can ever illustrate.

So, without further ado, I give you my recipe for "curing" (or at least lessening) the common cold:

Chicken Noodle Soup
(adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, 14th edition)

1 3.5-4 lb chicken, cut up into pieces, with as much of the skin and fat pulled off of the pieces as possible
8 cups water
~1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup frozen peas
1.5 cup dried egg noodles (I got the thin egg noodle nests - because they're fun!)
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1. In a 6- to 8-quart soup pot or Dutch oven, combine chicken, water, onion flakes, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for about 1.5 hours, or until chicken is tender.
2. Remove chicken from broth. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones. Discard bones, and any left-over skin. Meat should be tender enough to pull apart with your hands - so break it up into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Discard bay leaf & skim fat off top of broth.
3. Bring broth to boiling. Stir in carrots and peas and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Stir in noodles and simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes or until noodles are tender but still firm. Stir in chicken pieces and parsley; heat through.

- Skimming the fat off the top of the broth is easiest if you let the broth cool a bit first. That way, the fat will all gather itself together into a nice little film that's easy to skim off the top.
- The parsley is of course optional, but fresh parsley has a very strong smell, which was somehow even more soothing to my stuffy nose. That, and it brings out the flavors in the soup so well!
- The original recipe called for 1/2 cup chopped onion - I used a small amount of onion flakes just to get the flavoring called for, but not enough to mess with my system. The original recipe also calls for 1/4 tsp black pepper, but I had to omit that. If you want pepper in your soup, add it with the salt in Step 1 above. And the original recipe also calls for 1 cup chopped celery instead of frozen peas, but since I can't eat celery, I went for the peas. I think it was a solid choice - I recommend it.

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