Sometimes, you just need a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.
Maybe it's the election; maybe it's the pandemic; or the fact that my son has been home for almost two weeks now because his teacher sadly had a death in the family; but when my husband quickly came back in the house this morning after saying his goodbyes to tell me he suddenly wasn't feeling well, I reached for my Dutch oven. Not today devil, not today.
The only thing that can make today feel a little bit brighter is some Clorox, possibly a break from the news cycle, and homemade soup simmering on the stove all morning with the promise of a filling lunch.
I'm not one to follow a specific recipe for broth-based soups: I believe in sautéing carrots, celery and onion in butter if you have them, adding a splash of white wine to deglaze the pot (which, go figure, I always seem to have an open bottle in the fridge), then building my flavors one layer at a time with whatever I can find in my fridge.
Today, I had about a half a pound of ground chicken that I hadn't cooked up yet and decided to make a twist on traditional chicken noodle soup with chicken meatballs and leftover frozen pasta shells I had in the freezer. I learned a trick from a Jamie Oliver cooking segment once to bag up and freeze any of those odd pasta bits that you cook too much of for use in a soup some other day. (I'm always cooking three lasagna noodles too many, or a few extra pasta shells than I have ricotta filling for!)
Throw in about 5 or 6 cups of chicken broth, a Parmesan rind and let simmer and you've got yourself the makings of a great soup. Even better? Finish with a squirt of lemon juice and throw in some kale to quickly wilt right before serving.
I promise, this stuff has magical healing powers, for whatever ails you today. Be well and healthy.
CHICKEN MEATBALL SOUP
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground chicken (you could also use ground turkey)
1/3 cup Panko crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 small onion diced
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme (more or less depending on personal preference)
5 to 6 cups of chicken broth
1 Parmesan rind
1 cup cooked pasta of your choice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
handful of freshly-washed kale
Make the meatballs: Combine all meatball ingredients in a bowl, mixing ingredients together well with your hands. Form into small meatballs and set aside (makes about 20 to 25 small meatballs). Heat oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
Add butter, carrots, celery and onion to pot, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove all the chicken bits and oil, 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and finish deglazing the pot, while mixing vegetables. Once vegetables are softened, add dried thyme and stir into vegetables. Next add chicken broth slowly, continuing to scrape any bits on the bottom. Add rind, pasta and chicken meatballs to soup and bring to a slow boil for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove rind, add lemon juice and stir in kale until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Best served with crusty bread to soak up the fragrant soup.