Thursday, October 25, 2012
When I am sick I want two things: endless sympathy from every person on earth and water foods. I define “water foods” as things like broth-based soups, sautéed spinach, green grapes, orange slices and as much Emergen-C as is declared safe to consume in a 24 hour period by the FDA. I used to get sick allll the time in college. It seemed as though from just before Halloween until the end of March I would be either hacking my lungs out until my abs were sore or weeping in the Student Health Services begging them to give me something stronger than Advil Cold and Sinus. Of course, these lengthy illnesses were supported and strengthened by the fact that I subsisted on mozzarella cheese, Parliament Lights and Colt 45 alone. There could be a connection, I’m not quite sure.
Now that I’m hip to a few things about diet and overall health I know a thing or two about a thing or two. Namely, that if you eat a ton of pepperoni and cheese and booze when you are sick you will probably be extending the life of that illness a bit. So these days when I inevitably get sick, like I did this week, I go into what I like to call Operation Shut It Down. As in I cease with all illicit and unhealthy activities that have even the slightest blush that they will extend the length of my illness. I won’t even eat sugar or crackers and certainly not any dairy (it feeds the mucus, people). I drink water like it’s my job, I take 3-4 Emergen-Cs throughout the day, I drop a half pound of spinach leaves into every single thing that I eat. I also mow down on raw garlic like a crew of sulky teenage vampires are waiting for me under my front porch and I eat soup like 6 times a day. So it seems apperpo that the only thing I had time to make this week is this simple, straightforward but hearty batch of Cheater Chicken Noodle Soup.
CHEATER CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
2 tbs. olive oil
2 bone-in, cooked chicken breasts, or one full (2-3 lb.) chicken
2 (32 oz.) containers chicken stock (or equal parts homemade)
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1- 1 ½ c. dried egg noodles
3-4 whole peppercorns
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
Baby spinach (optional)
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent and fragrant (about 4 minutes). Add diced carrot and salt and pepper the vegetables liberally. Let them sweat for another few minutes- while this happens, shred your chicken off the bones and set aside (reserve bones). Add to the pot the garlic, oregano, parsley, peppercorns and another hit of salt and pepper. Pour chicken stock in to cover and add the reserved chicken bones. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the carrots are tender and cooked through.
With tongs, fish the chicken bones out and discard. Bring the soup up to a boil and add the egg noodles, stir well and let boil until the noodles are cooked through (about 6-9 minutes, check the package instructions. Once the noodles are cooked, add the shredded chicken, taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. To serve: place a big handful of baby spinach leaves in a soup bowl. Ladle hot soup over and serve immediately; preferably with a side of daytime soaps or the Price is Right, just like when you were home sick in elementary school. This soup is "cheater" because of it's use of pre-cooked chicken* and store bought stock. If you want to Martha it up, by all means use fresh chicken and homemade stock and cook it in the soup. If I were doing this I would brown the chicken first then let it finish cooking while simmering in the stock, removing it near the end of cooking to shred the meat and discard the bones.
*for a simple easy way to roast a delicious chicken or make homemade chicken stock, peep this Porky post of yore (I can't believe how bad the photos are! Eeek, old posts are like unearthing junior high diaries- mortifying. Also I titled the post Porky Chickens?!? Cheese alert! Alright, no, I actually stand behind that, it's kind of awesome. Regardless of all of this, the technique is solid I promise).