How to turn your chicken broth into chicken noodle soup

How to make chicken noodle soup from scratch

I know many of you black belt frugal experts can make chicken noodle soup (a classic frugal meal!) while blindfolded, so you may be slightly bored by this post.

But honestly, I wasn’t too skilled at making a good homemade chicken noodle soup until sometime in the last year or two, so I figured there are probably some readers out there in the same boat.

So, this post is for you!

I learned the basic method from Cook’s Illustrated (because of course), but mine is a more frugal version than theirs.  ;)

This post piggybacks on two recent chicken topics, so in case you missed them:

Recently, I showed you how to salt, spatchcock, and roast a chicken.

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And then we talked about how to make broth (the sort that actually tastes good!) from the bones and raw backbone left from spatchcocking.

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You can use the resulting broth in any recipe that calls for chicken broth, but since it’s awfully tasty, it can easily serve as the base for chicken noodle soup.

(Not-So-Spectacular broth can be disguised in rice or sauces, but for good chicken noodle soup, you really do need to have delicious broth.)

In my broth post, I mentioned that if you know you’re gonna be making chicken noodle soup, you should save some of the fat that rises to the top of the broth.

If you didn’t, no worries. You can still proceed. ;)

So, you’ll want to take the chicken fat (or vegetable oil) and heat it in your Dutch oven.  Then add in a cup each of onions, celery, and carrots.

chopped veggies for chicken noodle soup

Chicken fat tastes very chicken-y, as opposed to, say, beef fat, which mostly just tastes greasy.

So, sauteing the veggies in chicken fat ups the chicken flavor in your soup a bit more. It is not essential, though.

how to saute veggies for chicken noodle soup

Cook these until they’re slightly softened, about 5 minutes.  Then add in 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme plus your broth (the amount is flexible, but somewhere between 6 and 8 cups is good) and simmer your soup until the veggies are cooked to your liking.

homemade chicken noodle soup

Now, hopefully you had some leftover roasted chicken that you can use for your soup.

If not, then during the above broth simmering time, you could poach some chicken breasts (remove the skin before poaching). Simmer them until they’re cooked through, remove them, let ‘em cool a bit, and then chop the meat up into bite-sized pieces.

Luckily, I roasted a big chicken, so I had plenty of leftover meat for my soup this go-round.

leftover roasted chicken in soup

Finally, add in 2 cups of dried noodles and simmer until the noodles are soft (check your noodle package directions to find out how long that might be.)

Salt and pepper the soup to your taste and serve it proudly.

homemade chicken noodle soup

Leftover soup keeps quite nicely and tastes delicious when reheated.  The noodles to tend to absorb broth as the soup sits, though, so you may need to add some additional water when you reheat the soup.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
2 tablespoons reserved chicken fat (or vegetable oil)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
6-8 cups of homemade broth
2 cups chopped leftover roasted chicken
2 cups (3 oz.) dried noodles
salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, heat chicken fat until melted.  Add vegetables and saute about 5 minutes.  Stir in broth and thyme; simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.  Stir in chicken and noodles and simmer until noodles are soft (consult package directions for noodle cooking time.)

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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P.S. Congrats to Geneva, winner of the Third Day Naturals prize.

Also, don’t forget that Third Day is offering a special discount to Frugal Girl readers.  Use code TDN20 to receive 20% off! This is good only through December 14th, so go place your order before it expires.

How to make chicken broth that is actually tasty

When I last mentioned making chicken broth, some of you shared that you’ve had trouble making chicken broth that rivals what you can buy in the store.

So, I promised to show you how to make chicken broth that does not resemble dirty dishwater, either in appearance or flavor.

how to make good chicken broth

Though this recipe doesn’t come directly from Cook’s Illustrated (What the what???), the method is kind of a riff on their chicken noodle soup recipe.

(Because, um, pretty much everything I do in the kitchen relates back to CI/ATK somehow.)

CI’s method for making chicken soup broth involves hacking up an entire chicken, browning it, and then making broth.  After making the soup several times and enjoying the super delicious broth, I started to realize that I could do something similar when making broth from leftover chicken bones.

The key, I think, is having some raw chicken to start out with.  So, when I spatchcock a chicken, I always save the backbone (and any extra skin/fat I trim off the chicken).

save the chicken backbone for broth

Also, when I make Teriyaki Chicken, I end up with some uncooked skin/fat/bones because the recipe calls for deboning raw chicken thighs.  If you don’t have any leftover chicken, I would grab one or two raw chicken thighs from the freezer.

By the way, this will totally work with turkey bones/skin, so save any raw bits from your turkey at Thanksgiving!

Here is what is important to know about broth making:

If you want delicious broth, do not just plunk bones into a pot with water and simmer them to death.

This is easy and hands-off and will produce nutritious chicken broth, but the broth will not knock your socks off either in appearance or flavor.

If you do a little prep work before your dump water into your pot, though, your broth will be exponentially improved.

So, first I heat my Dutch oven over medium heat and then add the backbone and chicken skin to the pot.  I let the fat render until the chicken skin is pretty crispy and the pot bottom is full of browned bits.

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If there is one thing Cook’s Illustrated has taught me, it is this: Brown All Of The Things.

And whenever I apply that principle, my food is indeed more flavorful.

Ok, so, once I have the lovely browned bits, I take out the bones and such, and add about a cup of chopped onion.  I saute that in the chicken fat and browned bits until the onions are fairly soft.

Since chicken fat is very chicken-y-tasting, this will give your broth a good flavorful start.

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Then, and only then do I add water and the chicken bones.  I also sometimes add in thyme and/or bay leaves, depending on what I plan to use the broth for.  And I add a few teaspoons of salt as well.

Heat the water to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot to release the browned bits, or fond.

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Because of all the browning you did before adding the water, your broth will have a lovely, appealing tint and flavor even before you’ve simmered it.

But simmer you should because your broth will extract flavor and nutrition from the chicken bones as it cooks.  If you let your stock boil, it’ll be cloudier than if you keep it to a simmer.  But the world will not come to an end if you boil it, so don’t stress, k?

After an hour, the broth will be quite delicious, but if I have more time, I let it cook longer.  If you let it cook for many hours, you’ll probably need to replenish the water, or you’ll end up with very concentrated stock (which is fine if that’s what you’re going for!)

For one chicken’s worth of bones, I’d say I probably end up with about 4 quarts of stock, although I don’t really do a whole lot of measuring as chicken broth is more method then recipe.

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Once the broth is finished, strain it through a fine mesh strainer and let it cool.  Once it’s down to room temperature, you can refrigerate it.

As it cools, the fat will rise to the top and solidify.  For most purposes, you’ll want to spoon off the fat and discard it, because leaving it there will make your recipes unpleasantly greasy.

However, if you want to use the broth to make chicken noodle soup (I plan to post that on Wednesday this week), save a few tablespoons of the fat, because you can use it for sauteeing the veggies.

homemade chicken broth

(This is an old picture of broth, from before I figured out the browning method. And clearly I boiled this stock because, hello, cloudiness!)

If you’re not going to use your broth right away, you can freeze it for future use.  And you can do this in regular glass Mason jars as long as you leave sufficient room for the broth to expand as it freezes.

Give this a try!  If you’ve had trouble producing tasty broth before, I really, really think this method will help change that.

P.S. If you want still more flavor, I’ve read that browning the bones in the oven before making broth helps increase flavor.  But I’m pretty happy with my broth at this point, so I’m loathe to add another step.