Store bought soup? No way! Canned Soup? Don't even think about it. Even the soups from nicer restaurants are loaded with sodium, preservatives and all kinds of unidentifiable ingredients that you don't want to put into your body -- especially if you're feeling under the weather, which is often when we crave soup.
Making homemade soup is easy! And as we're getting closer to fall, it is "soup season!" So try making homemade, if you haven't before (that means no boullion cubes either - even the low sodium ones). Try my recipe for homemade chicken noodle soup. This recipe was passed to me from my mother, and to her from my grandmother. I sometimes change it up a bit by adding different things, as you'll see under "optional add-ins." Make a big pot at the beginning of the week and it will last for a couple of dinners (paired with a salad & slice of whole grain bread) or it will make a nice lunch for you to take to work!
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
1 whole uncooked chicken (preferably organic or free-range)
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
4 large carrots
4 outside stalks of celery, plus the leaves & top parts/inner parts of celery
1 bunch parsley (italian flat parsley preferred)
Salt (sea salt preferred)
a little olive oil
whole wheat wide egg noodles or other whole wheat noodles - I used gobetti in the photo (1 bag) (or if you want to make your own noodles, great!)
Optional Add-Ins: a piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped; baby portabella mushrooms, chopped.
First, use a large soup pot. swirl a little olive oil in the bottom of the pot. Saute 1/2 of the onion (cut into chunks), all of the cloves of garlic (throw them in whole - just peel first), 2 of the carrots (cut into large chunks), 1 piece of celery (large chunks) & the other celery parts- leaves and inner parts (just throw them in). Use one or both (or neither) of the add-ins I mentioned above. Cook on medium high for about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse your chicken. Add the chicken into the pot and then fill the pot with water (I can't tell you how many quarts, just fill within 2 or 3 inches of the top of your pot - just cover the chicken with water). Add approximately 1/2 a teaspoon of salt (sea salt preferred) and maybe a 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to taste. I sometimes add in a pinch of crushed red pepper to the soup too - it doesn't make it spicy, but just helps to bring out the flavor of the broth. Throw in about half of your parsley (don't have to chop, just toss it in).
Bring the soup to a boil for about 5 minutes and skim off the yucky stuff that floats to the top. Turn the temp down to medium and let your soup simmer uncovered for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. This means you can walk away - just leave it be.
While you're waiting, you can chop the remaining 3 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, 1/2 onion, and about 1/4 cup of parsley. Also, boil water in a separate pot.
When the 75 minutes is up, place a colander into a very large bowl or another large pot (I usually place the bowl and colander in the sink, to catch any spills). Carefully pour your soup from the stove into the colander/bowl (essentially straining it). Lift the colander out and place it aside for now. Pour your broth back into your (now empty) soup pot. Add in your fresh chopped veggies and turn the stove up to medium high. While these prettier veggies are cooking in your delicious broth, go back to the chicken and cut it up into chunks. I like this, because it doesn't have to look pretty. Even if the chicken is in little shredded pieces, it's okay - it's soup. Throw all the cut pieces of chickcen back into the soup. Discard the bones.
Your extra pot of water should be boiled by now. Add the whole bag of whole wheat wide egg noodles to the pot and cook according to package directions. You want the noodles to actually be slightly undercooked or aldente, because they will cook more once you put them in the soup. Drain your noodles.
Put the noodles in a bowl first, then add your soup broth, making sure to give yourself chicken and some veggies. Enjoy! It's okay to add a little more salt and pepper to taste. You're likely not going to add near the amount of sodium you would consume in processed soup. To save the leftovers, wait till everything cools a bit before combining the noodles and soup and putting it in the fridge.
Once you've made your own chicken noodle soup, no substitutes will be as satisfying! It might seem like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy and fun. Let me know how your soup turns out. Take care!