Thursday, April 15, 2010

Feeding Mom, Nourishing Me

I've gotten out of the habit of cooking for my mom lately - it's not for lack of ideas though, but lack of time, energy, and the sheer fact that neither of us is exactly home enough these days, so whatever I do make (or bring home from co-op, like that veggie sauce or the stew, lasts forever!
I did know what I wanted to make though - more for my own mental benefit than for my mom's stomach: chicken noodle soup from scratch. The bird, the stock, the soup - the whole shebang! I had never attempted making any of the elements of a classical chicken noodle soup before: since I don't eat meat, roasting a chicken isn't part of my repetoire, and any soup I've done before has been pretty much a combination of fresh stuff and stock out of a box or made with a powder. Good stuff - but not the same as the feeling and experience of seeing each little piece, each hour of prep work and roasting and stuffing and simmering and straining, unite into a glorious, delicious whole.

I have to give major credit to the two incredible chefs that enabled me when it came to the two major components of the soup. I used Julia Child's method of roasting the chicken after stuffing it with lemon wedges, garlic, thyme and celery leaves (her timing is dead-on PERFECT... down to the minute). Instead of a rack, though, since I'd be using the veggies for Mark Bittman's method for a dark, roasted chicken stock anyways, I made a bed of acorn squash, leeks, celery stalks and mushrooms to soak up all the delicious juices. The only other thing I did was to slide slivers of garlic under the chicken skin while it roasted - you can never have too much garlic!

Like I said, I used Mark Bittman's recipe (or theory, really) in How to Cook Everything to make the stock - roasting the leftover bones from the chicken (of course I saved the meat for the soup!) along with some chicken backs I picked up before adding them with all the chicken stuffing and roasted veggies to a stockpot and simmering it away for the day. Then I strained it to make a broth that was so incredibly dark that it looked like beef broth rather than chicken - but it smelled like sheer heaven! Oddly, though I know you are supposed to discard the stock solids - and I was going to - my mom swooped in, picked out all the bits of meat and sodden veggies, packed it up into a container and took it for lunch the next day, declaring it "the most delicious thing she had that day". Okay then... so if you are needing to be super frugal, there you are. Another dinner out of that!

The rest of the soup, I'm proud to say, is all mine. Instead of the traditional carrots, I opted for the sweetness of butternut squash (which is also why I used acorn squash for the stock), and since my mom loves leeks above any other onion I used those for the majority of flavour, throwing in a quarter of one that was sitting in our crisper just to use it up. Red peppers and green peas added boosts of colour to the soup, and then just because I could, I chose to use soba noodles instead of traditional semolina pasta! They played well with the "hominess" of the broth and other ingredients, and of course their "slurpability" made them a winner!

This homey, noodle-y meal is being sent to Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted at More Than Words this week!

Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup (Incl. Roasted Chicken, Rich Chicken Stock and Soup Recipes)Makes 6 BIG bowls

Salt and black pepper
1 medium acorn squash, unpeeled, cut into chunks
2 leeks, cut into 2" pieces
5 stalks celery, cut into 2" pieces
½ lb button mushrooms
½ tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, cut into chunks
1 head garlic (about 20 cloves), cloves peeled but left whole
1 ½ cups celery leaves
2 sprigs thyme
1 unwaxed lemon, cut in eighths
1 (3-4 lb) chicken, washed and patted dry
2 cloves garlic, cut into slivers

2 lbs bone-in chicken backs
2 bay leaves
¼ cup whole peppercorns
1 cup dry white wine
6 quarts cold water

1 tsp olive oil
¼ large onion, thinly sliced
½ small butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ red pepper, diced
1 leek, washed and sliced thinly
6 cups prepared chicken stock
2 cups water
1 sprig thyme, de-stemmed
½ tsp dried basil
½ cup frozen green peas
13 oz diced cooked meat from the stock chicken
4 oz dried soba (or whole wheat) noodles, broken in half

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. In a deep roasting pan, stir together squash, leeks, celery and mushrooms. Spread in an even layer on the bottom of the pan, drizzle with ½ tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a bowl, combine the onion, whole garlic cloves, celery leaves, thyme, lemon, salt and pepper. Toss well.
  4. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the mixture, add any remaining stuffing to the roasting pan with the vegetables.
  5. Make slits into the skin of the chicken all over (do not penetrate the meat), stuff each with a sliver of garlic.
  6. Rub the outer skin of the chicken with olive oil and and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  7. Tie the legs together, and set the chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.
  8. Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F and baste with the pan juices.
  9. Continue roasting the chicken, basting every 15 minutes, until the juices run clear - a total of 45 minutes plus 7 minutes per pound. (In other words, a 3 1/2 pound chicken would take a basic 45 minutes plus an additional 25 minutes, for a total 70 minutes or 1 hour and 10 minutes of cooking time).
  10. Remove from the oven and move chicken to a plate or board. Cool chicken until easily handled if making stock (reserve stuffing, minus the lemon pieces). If serving as a roasted chicken dinner, tent with foil and rest 10 minutes before carving.
  11. Return remaining vegetables to the oven, raise the heat to 450F and roast a further 30 minutes.
  12. Either serve roasted vegetables with chicken or proceed with stock recipe.
Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Stock
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. With your hands (I find it easiest), remove the majority of the meat from the chicken bones.
  3. Place the bones in a roasting pan or rectangular pan with chicken backs, spray with canola oil.
  4. Roast for 40 minutes.
  5. Add the roasted bones, reserved roasted vegetables, roasted chicken stuffing, bay leaves, and peppercorns to a large stockpot.
  6. To the pan that held the roasted chicken, add wine and bring to a simmer, stirring to dislodge the pan juices and roasted bits from the bottom. Add to the stockpot along with the water.
  7. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, partially covered, for 5 hours. Skim the surface of any foam or scum and stir every hour.
  8. After 5 hours, remove from the heat and strain into a clean pot.
  9. Place back on the stove over high heat.
  10. Cook until slightly reduced, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Use immediately or let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and squash. Cook, stirring frequently, 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add celery, red pepper and leek. Cook, stirring, 5-6 minutes.
  4. Stir in chicken stock and water, then add herbs.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in frozen peas, chicken meat and noodles.
  7. Simmer until noodles are cooked, about 4-5 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 290.3
Total Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 46.4 mg
Sodium: 576.2 mg
Total Carbs: 38.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.2 g
Protein: 24.5 g

Soba on Foodista


  1. Awesome. Looks wicked good, nothing is better than 100% homemade chicken noodle soup. My mom used to do this all the time, I really need to do it more myself.

  2. Of COURSE St. Julia would get it right! Woot! :)

  3. That looks awesome! I love that you took the time to get everything done properly on your own, making stock with roasted vegetables and roasted bones too! Hurray for you!

    I hope your mom enjoys the soup!

  4. I'm pretty sure Bittman is a genius when it comes to food. This soup looks delicious!


Thanks for the feedback!