The name of this dish should actually be "Triple Carb Chicken Soup, Idaho Style, for When You Have Recovered from Your Cold and Flu with Weak, Good-for-the-Soul Chicken Broth, and Have Graduated to the Feeling-Better for-the-Soul Chicken Soup." Quite a mouthful isn't it - but so is this soup! This is a perfect remedy to a snowy day, when you're stuck inside because it has snowed an inch and everything is cancelled for the day, as where I live. The kitchen becomes a gloriously warm and aromatic domain in which you can satisfy the stomach and creative itch as the soft world of white outside satisfies your view out the window. I owe this recipe to a friend, who is a native of potato-growing Idaho and first served me, to my surprise, chicken soup with mashed Idaho spuds on top - or the potatoes on the bottom and the soup on top, like a gravy. Who would have thought that no one from Idaho had let this marvelous culinary combination out to those of us in Utah just across the border. But then, we were slow to tell them about Navajo Tacos (earlier blog). A meal in itself, this soup is now a frequently requested family favorite with several inspired renditions resulting. The homemade noodles are not necessary but help keep the kitchen warm and humming. The thicker chew of the homemade noodle, or "noodle-ette" which my daughter created because she was tired of rolling out the stiff dough and so simply rolled small portions of dough into little balls that she plopped into the broth, give you more of a carb high and a textural contrast with the creaminess of the soup base and the velvet of the mashed potato. It's snowing outside now, in fact a respectable 8 or so inches. I feel a batch of Creamy Chicken Noodle coming on! I think I'll make it a big one - we may be snowbound for days and nothing eases a serious bout of cabin-fever like cooking!
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup with Mashed Potatoes
5 tab. butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 small carrots, diced
2 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts bones and skin
4 cups water
2 tsp. chicken bouillon paste
1/3 cup flour
1 bay leaf
5 crushed peppercorns
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of fresh thyme (or dried)
2 cups whole milk
8 ounces wide egg noodles (or home-made - see directions )
2 tab. finely minced parsley
3 large russet potatoes, boiled in skins until fork tender
3 tab. soft butter
3/4 cup buttermilk, slightly warmed
1 cup milk, slightly warmed
salt and pepper to taste
-In medium saucepan, heat 1 tab. oil and saute chicken pieces until slightly browned. Salt and pepper chicken to taste then pour 4 cups water over the chicken. Add the bay leaf, crushed peppercorns, chicken bouillon paste and the fresh thyme. Cover with a lid and simmer the chicken over medium-low heat, a gentle boil, for about 20 minutes. Set aside and keep covered another 30 minutes. Remove chicken from the broth and allow to cool. Strain the broth and set aside. When chicken is cool, remove bones and skins and shred the cooked chicken into small mouth-sized pieces.
-In large soup pot, melt 5 tablespoons of butter and add the onion, carrot and celery. Saute over medium-high heat until vegetables have softened, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/3 cup flour with the vegetables, with a wire whip cooking over medium heat about 1 minute. Then slowly stir in the 2 cups milk, mixing with the whip as you do to incorporate the flour. Bring soup to a low boil, stirring frequently, until soup thickens.
-Carefully pour the chicken broth into the milk base and mix until smooth as you bring it to a slow boil - medium-high heat.
-Add store prepared noodles or fresh homemade noodles to the soup and cook over medium-high heat, uncovered until the pasta is tender. Add the shredded chicken to the soup, then check seasoning for salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Let soup cool for 10 - 15 minutes before serving. Soup will thicken as it sits.
-To prepare potatoes: bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over high heat. Add 1 tab. salt and potatoes to the water. Cover with a lid and bring the water back to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and continue to cook potatoes until they are fork-tender, about 45 minutes - depending on the potato and your elevation. Drain off water and let potatoes sit in skins about 10 minutes. Peel the skins off the potatoes with a paring knife and place the meat of the potatoes into a mixing bowl. With a potato masher or electric mixer, mash the potatoes until smooth, then add butter and buttermilk and mix again until smooth and all lumps are gone. Add milk, salt and pepper and whip until potatoes are smooth and fluffy. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.
-Mound a serving of mashed potatoes into each serving bowl and ladle soup over the top. Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and paprika.
-If making your own noodles.....read on.
Homemade Egg Noodles:
2 cups flour
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup water - more or less
-Place flour in medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the lightly beaten eggs and yolks with salt. With a fork begin to mix the flour into the eggs.
-Add water, a little bit at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition, until dough begins to hold together and you can form it into a ball.
-Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (5 - 8 minutes). dusting the surface and your hands as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.
-Cut the dough into 4 equal parts, then on the well-floured surface, roll out 1 section at a time into a very-thin rectangle.
(Don't worry if the shape isn't a perfect rectangle - noodles that are a bit crooked taste just as great!) Keep remaining dough covered as you work so it won't dry out.
-With a sharp knife or a wheel pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide, long strips. Then cut across the width so that each noodle is about 2 inches long. (Alternatively, roll the pasta up into a long roll, and cut across dough to make strips of pasta. Unroll each strip.)
-Drop fresh noodles into the simmering soup and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the noodles are tender.
-If you want to make shorter work of the recipe, store-prepared mashed potatoes are fine.
-Another shortcut is to mix in 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup combined with 2 tab. flour, after the vegetables are tender, before adding the milk. (Reduce 5 tablespoons butter to 2 tab. and 1/3 cup flour to 2 tab. flour)
-You can dry your homemade noodles for future use by tossing lightly with flour and spreading them out on a cookie sheet. Let dry at room temperature for 2 hours of more, then place in a plastic bag for later use.
-If soup becomes too thick, thin it down with the addition of a bit of milk or water.
-If soup is too thin, place 2 tab. flour in a small mixing bowl. Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth from the soup to the flour and combine well with a wire whip. Pour the flour mixture through a fine mesh strainer back into the soup and return the soup to a boil until it thickens to the desired consistency.
-To avoid lumpy potatoes, be sure to mash potatoes well before adding any other ingredients.
-Sour cream can be used instead of buttermilk in the potatoes. A bit of cream cheese as well adds a nice tang to the mashed potatoes.