Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chicken noodle soup

There are few things I love waking up to more than a sparkling clean apartment.

(My husband, a fresh blanket of snow, and doughnuts occupy the first three spots.)

But a freshly-cleaned home makes my heart so happy.  It means that I've earned whatever fun activity I've got planned, or I can come home after a long day at work and simply unwind.

I absolutely dread doing laundry on a weeknight.  Between checking the machines, folding, and putting away clothes, I don't seem to sit still for more than a few minutes.  I can't tell you how many times I've missed a fantastic play in a hockey game because I was searching for the other matching sock.

Because of my dislike for weeknight chores, coupled with a few busy weekends spent out and about, let's just say we'd gotten a bit behind on cleaning.  Dirty laundry was no longer contained to the basket; there was a ramp of clothes leading up to the top.  Yikes.

On Sunday, after a morning trip to acquire doughnuts (told you), Matt and I embarked on a major cleaning mission.  The kind of cleaning day that happens maybe twice a year.  Furniture was moved, windows and walls were cleaned, floors and bathtubs were scrubbed, closets were pruned, plants were transferred, and every cabinet in the kitchen was emptied and reorganized.  Oh, and the laundry?  Six loads, yo.  SIX!

We tag-teamed the apartment and, by 5:00, we were finished, exhausted, and famished.  There whispers of pizza and Panera, but a lack of energy and grocery guilt got the best of me... and thank goodness they did.

Because in 30 very easy minutes, we wrapped our hands around steaming hot bowls of the best chicken noodle soup ever!

I'd been craving chicken noodle soup for weeks and couldn't have picked a better time to make it.  Soup is one of my favorite Sunday dinners because it's so inviting and comforting.  Plus, a big batch of it makes great leftovers for lunch.  And it just makes the whole house smell heavenly.  Good riddance, eau de Clorox and Windex ;)

I like my chicken noodle soup hearty and uber chunky.  Brothy soup is great when I'm feeling under the weather, but we wanted something that would really satisfy our raging appetites.  This is truly a one pot meal thanks to big pieces of seasoned chicken and vegetables.  It'll make your soul so happy!

The best part about the soup is that it had all of the flavor of a slow-cooked soup but very little of the effort, thanks to a few shortcuts like store-bought stock.  I love ya, T. Florence, but ain't nobody got time for homemade stock! 

After a full day of cleaning, enjoying a home-cooked meal and the glow from our pumpkins made for two very happy hearts.

Chicken Noodle Soup
(based loosely on Tyler Florence's recipe)
-makes roughly 6 servings

A few notes: I roasted my chicken while preparing the base for the soup, but feel free to use already cooked chicken if you have it or even that from a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

1 1/2 - 1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup chopped carrots (about 2 large or 1/2 pound baby), cut into 1/2-inch
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 large ribs), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 quarts (64 ounces) low-sodium chicken stock
8 ounces dried extra wide egg noodles
Ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Brush chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast until cooked through, about 20 minutes (depending on thickness of chicken).  Cool slightly and chop into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes.  Set aside.

While chicken is roasting in the oven, add olive oil, carrots, onions, and celery to large stock pot over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute while stirring, until fragrant.  Add thyme, bay leaf, and chicken broth.  Bring to boil.  Reduce to a simmer and add noodles, cooking for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.  Add cubed cooked chicken and stir to combine.  Simmer for a few minutes, until warmed through, and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.  Remove bay leaf.  Ladle into a big huggable bowl and enjoy!

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