Hello! Sorry for disappearing last week. After almost three weeks, The Professor is still recovering from the bug that sent him to the hospital a few days after Christmas. I’ve been busy taking care of him and snuggling with him every evening. As much as I love talking to all you nice people, The Professor wins for my time, especially when he’s as pitiful as he’s been.
After a week of him being sick, getting a little better, doing the smallest bit of activity (going out to dinner with friends…strenuous stuff), he had another relapse and was back almost to square one. I didn’t know what to do. He had medicine and rest and food-derived vitamins. Something was missing. There had to be something else I could do for him to really help him get better. Then I realized there was one weapon left in my arsenal. Chicken soup.
I’m not a big fan of broth-based soups like chicken noodle soup and vegetable soup, but deep in the recesses of my mind is a memory of a perfect chicken noodle soup eaten at a little cafe in an Arizona ghost town on a family road trip from California to Texas. I still remember how flavorful the broth was. And the noodles – big, thick, fresh egg noodles. Not spaghetti noodles like the canned chicken noodle soup I’d come to despise. (This was long before I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance). It was like nothing I’ve ever eaten before or after.
I wanted to make that soup. And I succeeded.
First I made really good broth. Because the store’s whole fryer chickens were small, I used a whole fryer chicken and three chicken quarters – inexpensive cuts of the thigh, leg and part of the back. Chicken pieces with the most bones make the most nutritious and flavorful broth.
Next, get your veggies ready. These won’t make it to the soup, but will just be boiled with the chicken to add flavor and nutrients to the broth. There’s no need to cut them fancy. A quartered onion, two ribs of celery cut into two-inch slices and a few peeled and cut carrots will do the trick.
The broth also needs spices. I added a handful of whole garlic cloves, a teaspoon of spicy chili flakes, and a few tablespoons of rosemary and thyme. Oh and my mom got me a bunch of spices for Christmas including dried onion, so I added some of that too.
You could also add a bay leaf here. I didn’t because my bay leaves came from my mother-in-law’s friend in the Caribbean and are incredibly pungent.
I wanted my broth to be extra brothy, so I added a tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon, my favorite chicken broth mix. This got my broth super rich and saved me time because I didn’t have to cook it down after I removed the chicken.
Bouillon is salty, so add a little less salt than normal. I added about two teaspoons. Grind some pepper too, about a teaspoon.
Bring to a boil and then simmer until the chicken’s juices run clear. Mine took about 40 minutes.
If you’ve never used Better Batter, I recommend it for recipes like gluten-free noodles and quick breads (like my gluten-free banana bread recipe). Better Batter has a nice consistency and already contains xanthan gum, so it is great for beginners.
My favorite thing about this company is their financial aid program. They offer gluten-free families on food stamps products at a significantly reduced cost. Being gluten free is expensive, but could you imagine the financial burden if your family was below the poverty line?
Measure out two cups of flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour, just like the little old Italian ladies do it. I also recommend singing Italian music. Or the song from Lady and the Tramp when they’re eating the pasta. That counts.
In a smaller bowl, mix together three eggs, an egg yolk, a little water and a little salt. If you’re using a flour mix that already contains salt, skip the salt in this step. It’s very easy to over-salt gluten-free baked goods – or dishes where flour is the main ingredient, so always be on the lookout for salt in flour mixes so you can adjust your dishes accordingly.
Don’t worry. You didn’t. It’s just the nature of gluten-free flour. Smush and roll it together so it clumps up to form a ball. You sort of knead it, although it doesn’t really kneed in the traditional way you would imagine wheat dough kneading. Basically you want it to be a big cohesive ball.
If you feel like your dough is too stiff and it needs more water, simply wet your hands so the water is incorporated while you knead. In my experience, this is enough water. You don’t want to add water, realize you added too much water, add flour, realize you added too much flour. Just a touch of water will do the trick and keep you off the vicious cycle of over adding.
I like homemade things to look homemade and imperfect (except sugar cookies. I want my sugar cookies to look like they came from Neiman Marcus, but they never do and I always feel like a failure with my gingerbread men who look like stick figures). Moral of the tangent: I wasn’t too worried about making my noodles exact.
Keep rolling out the extra dough and unused edges and cutting out noodles until the dough is gone. I only had a dime-size piece of dough left, which I consider one of my greatest life achievements.
Beautiful, homemade, hearty gluten-free noodles.
By now the chicken should be done. Remove it and let it cool.
Drain the broth. Look at how dark it turned out. That broth is ready to take on the flu and win.
Taste the broth to make sure the flavors are right. The broth will cook down even more when the noodles boil in it, so if it’s too salty now, add some water to dilute it. Put the drained broth back in the stock pot and keep it warm.
Now’s a good time to chop carrots, celery, onions and garlic for the soup. Keep the garlic separate. These will be in the final soup, so make them bite sized and pretty.
This is where I took a ten-minute break. The rest of the recipe comes together rather quickly, and you want to de-bone your chicken when it’s cool enough to handle. You don’t have to take a break here, but exercise caution to not burn yourself on molten chicken.
Okay, I took my break!
Bring the broth to a boil and carefully add the noodles. Gently stir them to ensure they don’t stick together. They will cook for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until tender. Stir every few minutes.
In a separate pan, sauté the carrots, celery and onions with butter and olive oil until they’re a little soft and have a bit of caramel color on them, about five minutes. Four minutes into the sauté time, add the garlic. It will burn easily, and you wouldn’t want all your hard work to be ruined by the unmistakable taste and smell of tart, burned garlic.
Sautéing the vegetables will bring out the flavors that are lost when sticking them straight into the soup. This is where you can also add spices like thyme, a bit of salt and pepper. I added my super pungent bay leaf here.
After the vegetables are slightly sautéed, add them into the broth to boil for ten minutes with the noodles.
Once the noodles are tender, add the chicken. Taste the broth again and adjust flavors as needed.
Serve to the sick, the weary or the cold, and let the hearty noodles, rich broth and juicy chicken do their magic. I served my soup with Udi’s dinner rolls.
- 1 fryer chicken, more chicken if you want
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
- 2-3 celery stalks, thickly sliced
- 1 tablespoon of Chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon
- 1 - 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp (or to taste) pepper
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tbsp dried tyme
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1-2 tbsp onion flakes (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 quarts cold water (or enough to completely submerge the chicken)
- 2 cups Better Batter Flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- de-boned chicken
- Rinse the chicken and put in a large stock pot with water and the rest of the stalk vegetables and broth spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the chicken is cooked. The juices will run clear when the meat is pierced. Remove the chicken and cool. Drain the broth with a fine mesh strainer.
- Chop the vegetables for the soup.
- To make the noodles, put the flour in a bowl, making a well in the center of the flour. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, salt and water. Put the egg mixture in the bowl and mix until well combined and stiff. Put the dough on the counter and knead a few times, adding water to your hands if the dough is too dry. Roll out to just 1/16 of an inch and cut into 1/2-inch by 2-inch strips. Keep re-rolling the excess dough and making strips until the dough is used up.
- Bring the broth to a boil and add the noodles, stirring occasionally to ensure the noodles do not stick to each other.
- In a sauté pan, melt butter with olive oil, and on medium-high heat sauté the onions, carrots and celery for five minutes, until they are softened and slightly dark, adding the garlic at the four-minute mark. Add the vegetables to the soup where they will finish cooking with the noodles.
- De-bone the chicken, shredding the larger pieces of meat.
- In the last minutes before the noodles are finished cooking, heat the chicken in the sauté pan and add it to the soup.