Nothing screams comfort food in the winter quite like a steaming hot bowl of soup. Thankfully, there is an endless supply of recipes to make a myriad of soup flavors, from the simple Chicken Noodle, to Japanese Miso, to Mexican Chicken Tortilla, and of course Vietnamese Pho. Yet, this abundance of options can also make the idea of making a hearty soup at home seem overwhelming. This does not have to be the case. Soup, in all of its wintry glory, is one of the simplest dishes to make, especially because there are so many amazing possibilities with this warm and cozy canvas.
One of my go-to soups is the “mom knows best” classic Chicken Noodle. Not only is it delicious, but it also helps combat the common cold (mom was right). Full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and the luscious warm broth, it helps clear the airways and gives the body the weapons it needs to fight off the cold virus…plus, it tastes amazing. This recipe is simple and uses many of the ingredients that you will most likely already have on hand and only takes about 30 minutes to make.
Unlike most of my recipes, when it comes to soup, I choose not to be precise in my measurements. Why? Because by understanding the basic components of what goes into a soup, and how to construct a soup, you can create ANY soup, with ANY of your favorite flavors, ANY time you want. It’s that simple. So, I will be breaking down how I compose my chicken and vegetable noodle soup here, but you will also be learning the basic breakdowns and combinations to be able to compose your own masterful creations in no time.
Soups are composed of 5 main groups of ingredients.
- Vegetables – these can be anything you like or whatever you have in the fridge. Remember that the hardest vegetables (carrots, peppers, broccoli) cook the longest and go in the pot first.
- Protein – this doesn’t mean meat, but certainly soup is a great way to use up leftover pork, steak, and roasted chicken. You can also use Tofu or canned (and drained) beans. If using canned beans, just be sure to rinse the beans under cold water to reduce the amount of sodium.
- Broth – if not home made, then go for a high quality, low sodium, or no salt added broth. The flavor of the protein will dictate the flavor of the broth (you wouldn’t put chicken with beef broth, but steak would work with any flavor of broth).
- Spices – spices truly give the depth to the soup.Simple thyme, pepper, salt, and rosemary works for chicken noodle, while Chinese 5 spice and ginger would work for an Asian style soba noodle soup.
- Grains/Pasta – this is not required by no means in a soup, but it does add a bulk factor and makes the soup more like a meal. This can be whole wheat pasta, rice noodles, or cracked wheat, or other whole grains.
To get you started, try the Simple chicken and vegetable noodle soup and just swap out any of my ingredients from the 5 categories above for your favorites. So, play around with flavors, textures, and spices and see what amazing soups you can create from items you already have at home!
Simple chicken and vegetable noodle soup
- Chop onion, carrot, and celery into small even pieces. This helps with the short cooking time. Chop just a handful of each.
- Chop 2 cloves of garlic.
- For additional veggies, chop red bell pepper, pasilla pepper, and cabbage into even pieces. Again, a handful of each veggie. Chop a five or six slices of jalapeno depending on the heat of the pepper. Note: when cooking with hot peppers always taste a bite first. The heat in every pepper is different, so by knowing ahead of time, you can gauge how much to put into your soup.
- Chop some leftover roasted chicken breast into bite size pieces.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive in a sauce pan. Add the onion and saute until they soften.
- Add the remaining hard vegetables (carrots, celery, garlic, peppers) and cook until they soften.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken or other protein and stir.
- Add the fresh herbs or dried (thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and marjoram). Stir well.
- Add enough unsalted chicken stock to cover the vegetables and with an inch or two of liquid above the veggies. This is about 32 (one box) to 40 ounces of liquid. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the cabbage and noodles. I like a mixture of whole wheat and brown rice noodles. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer until the noodles are al dente. Add additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Once the noodles are al dente, remove the bay leaf and serve steaming hot. Drizzle pesto or Siracha sauce over the top for some added flavor and color if desired. Enjoy!