comfort: favorite chicken noodle soup.

Cooking comforting in January is challenging (say that five times fast!). With the new year, I've turned to some healthy soups to warm the heart and soul, and stock the freezer. We got so much mileage out of my favorite split pea soup in the last couple of weeks, so over the weekend, I made an extra big batch of The Barefoot Contessa's Chicken Noodle Soup. It is hands-down Mari's favorite meal of the season.
I first tried this at my mom's house last fall, and was blown away at how simple but oh-so-flavorful this soup is. She is the genius who used Trader Joe's pappardelle noodles, and broke them in small pieces, giving your average egg noodles a boost and I think, a more luxurious texture. They also thicken the soup considerably, so for re-heats on nights two and three, I added more chicken stock to thin.

I also added a big bunch of kale, because we had it (thanks, Tanaka!). Miss Mari has a thing for wilted leafy greens, and while thankful, I have no idea where that came from.
All weekend, we enjoyed big bowls of this cozy, healthy goodness, rounded out with some crusty, warmed whole grain bread, and had plenty to share with some dear friends who just welcomed a baby boy to this world. Nothing like a little brand new baby love to blow your mind on your average Saturday.

Make-ahead note: this soup is made especially easy if you roast your chicken a day or two in advance (or even buy an all-natural pre-cooked chicken from your local market). And how about getting the celery and carrots diced ahead of time, too, while you're at it? It helps when your mom loves being a sous chef!

Click below for the full recipe.

Weeknight Chicken Noodle Soup with Kale
Very slightly adapted from The Barefoot Contessa's Chicken Noodle Soup from The Barefoot Contessa: Family Style, page 31
Serves 6

2 large skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts good, low-sodium organic chicken stock
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
1 cup medium-diced carrots (3 carrots)
1 8-ounce bag of Trader Joe's egg pappardelle pasta, broken in thirds-ish (or comparable wide egg pasta)
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped into 1-inch-ish pieces
1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a glass baking dish, rub both sides of chicken with small amount of olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken (or dice, if that's your thing).

Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large pot and add the celery, carrots and noodles. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked. Add the cooked chicken meat and kale until wilted, stirring occasionally. Last: add the parsley and let it heat through in the soup. Taste for seasoning and add salt/pepper as needed and serve.

If you make a habit of roasting whole chickens, you can make your own chicken stock. Here's The BC's recipe, which she recommends using for this, and all of her delicious soups. From the store, I like Trader Joe's organic chicken stock.

Lastly, a note on warming bread: our favorite trick, learned from my mom, of course, is to take a fresh loaf and rub it lightly with some olive oil and a very healthy sprinkle of kosher salt. Massage it all into the crust and keeping a close eye, bake at 375 degrees (baking times vary by bread / thickness) until the crust is crispy and golden.


Becca said...

I made a very similar chicken, lemon, and orzo soup earlier this winter that reminds me of this one. It was delicious! The lemon and chicken were such a good combo.


paper{whites} said...

Becca: I remember that! I have got to try it for sure!