National Eat Your Noodles Day

Another gem from Steff Dechenes’ Eat the Year is today’s holiday. When I saw this on the calendar, I knew I had to do a post about noodles. Noodles are one of my favorite foods. Mushrooms will always take the cake on that, followed closely by garlic. Noodles are up there, though. Pasta with marinara, buttered noodles, Chinese lo mein, Thai pad thai noodles, it’s all good. Also, ramen! Which brings me to what I wanted to share most for today’s holiday.

On one of my recent trips to Whole Foods, I came across Annie Chun’s Spring Vegetable Ramen. It’s a packet of soup base and soft-dry noodles that you can customize yourself with protein and veggies.

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The first time I made it, I had just made my snow pea and mushroom concoction the night before and had some left overs. I added those after I tried the ramen on its own. The ramen and broth are really flavorful. Without any veg or protein, it definitely doesn’t feel like a meal, so that’s something to consider when you make it. Adding the snow peas and mushrooms, plus the bit of their sauce/juice they created was a very nice addition.

I’ve made it a second time now and ventured to add a protein. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, so I hand shredded one of the legs and added it in with yet again leftover snow peas and mushrooms (they really are good!). All in all, a really good meal. I’ve seen the ramen at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger group grocery) in the natural foods section. If I remember correctly it also comes in two other flavors, but I don’t remember what they are. I’d say they’re worth a try.

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I make chicken noodle soup better than your grandmother

I’m sorry, but somebody had to say it.

Because my soup is really damn good. And I think I’ve pin pointed exactly what separates it from most other soups. Stock. Stock is what’s key. Most soups are broth based, but I’ve always thought they were a little weak. With veggie soups, it can be a little different, since you’re aiming for a more delicate flavor. Using broth with that makes sense. But a good, hearty noodle or grain soup needs a strong foundation. That is stock, not broth. I will forgive those who disagree and prefer a milder flavor, but I still think you should try making soup with a stock base at least once.

For those of you interested in trying a stock based Chicken Noodle Soup, below is how I do mine, step by step.

Rebecca’s Chicken Noodle Soup (Stew)

I have to put (stew) because when I cook this, it comes out pretty thick, and the leftovers end up even thicker. You can adjust the liquid if you like a thinner soup. Also, as with all of my other recipes, I’m cooking for 5 people with intention of leftovers.

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(Oregon love)

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small precooked chicken breasts (I use leftover rotisserie chicken meat), chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3 thick carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2-3/4 large onion, chopped
  • 1 lb uncooked pasta (I use rotini or penne)
  • 3 32 oz cans/boxes of chicken stock
  • Italian herb seasoning, salt & pepper
  • butter and olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chicken broth granules (optional)

I start out by sauteing the onion and carrots in a large stock pot with a pat of butter and some olive oil. I let them brown a little before adding the celery. The brown bits on the pan season the soup nicely once the stock is added, like when making pan gravy. Don’t forget to season with s&p to taste as you go, as well as a pinch of Italian herb seasoning to the veg. Once those three, also known as mirepoix (my small bit of French knowledge), are softened, add the diced chicken and heat through for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Whether you chose to season the chicken will depend on what seasons were used when it was cooked. If you cook it, you can use the Italian herb seasoning and maybe a pinch of allspice. Otherwise, unless it looks very plain, leave it with its own seasoning. Those added to the soup later will be enough.

With the chicken warming, add the chicken stock and seasonings. I don’t add too much s&p at this point because the stock should be well seasoned. You’re going to add more Italian herb seasoning than you think is right. But think of the other soups you’ve had. Did you notice the flecks of seasoning floating around? You’re aiming for at least enough to achieve full seasoning of the stock. It’s like seasoning the pasta sauce I posted before.

Bring the stock up to a rolling boil. Here is where you can add the chicken granules. I do occasionally if I feel like the stock is weak (some brands are as flavorful as others). This is also the time to add the pasta. I add mine uncooked and let it absorb the stock as it cooks. It also releases some starch, which is part of why the soup ends up so thick. Stirring occasionally, let the soup (medium)boil for 20-25 minutes (depending on how soft you want the pasta to be). Then it’s ready to eat! Enjoy!

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