I’ve had a hard time coming up with how to accurately describe how to make this soup (or how I would make this soup) and the reasons why I do things this way. It seems daunting but I hope by explaining myself it will make sense to you and that after you make this soup once, you'll never have to look at this recipe again. When you’re building a clear broth soup like this one without the use of a bouillon (no disrespect to bouillon cubes, I just don’t like to use them if I can achieve the same result without using one), you need to build the layers of the soup one layer at a time. You can’t just throw all the ingredients in at once and fingers crossed after an hour or two the water you started with now tastes like perfect soup and that your veggies haven’t disintegrated. It’s simply not possible. You have to slowly build the soup and end with all the ingredients in the pot instead of starting with all the ingredients and slowly removing them to avoid disintegration. A properly done clear broth soup should take at least 3 hours of simmering time (if you're making bone broth, could be 24 hours). So, this soup takes 3 hours and is not a quick endeavour, but it's an easy one that requires almost no supervision, just a check-in here and there to say ‘hey boo, how’s your water level?’. Let’s get started!
Chicken (I would use either quarters or a combination of chicken bones and quarters)
Pepper (plus an additional hot pepper if you’re feeling spicy)
There's no veggie amounts in the ingredients because it actually doesn't matter. Use however much your pot can fit of any ingredients you want.
Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil and salt well.
While that’s boiling, prep your veggies. Wash them really, really well. I like to keep them whole because, for the most part, I’m not going to eat them. They’re just in there to flavour the water. Even if I am going to eat any of it, I’ll take it out and cut it up later. This means, keep your onion skins on, keep your celery leaves intact, and throw that tomato in whole.
Next prep your chicken. I like to use chicken quarters plus whatever bones I have frozen from previous roast chickens or other birds (note, do not use turkey or chicken that you have stuffed with bread stuffing- I've done this and it ruined my soup). Since I don’t have a sizeable stock pot, I like to cut the chicken quarters at the bone joint (you can find this easily by moving the leg), this part is cartilage so you can easily cut through it. I also like to remove some of the extra fat that comes on the quarter chickens. You want some fat in the soup, but you don’t want to overload it.
Once your chicken is cut, wash thoroughly.
Add your chicken to your water and boil for an hour. If there’s anything that floats to the top that you don't like the look of (could be foam or marrow), just skim it off the top and discard.
After an hour of simmering, add your heartier, thicker veggies. This usually means carrots, parsnips (depending on their size), pepper and onions. Now is the time I'll add whole peppercorns and bay leaves as well. Once those are in, continue boiling for another hour.
Note: You should always check your water levels while your soup is simmering. There is no right or wrong amount of water, but you don't want there to be too little water. Remember, at the end of all of this, you're removing all the veggies and chicken, so you want there to be enough broth left over! I like my water level to be all the way at the top after every new addition of veggies.
After the hearty veggies have simmered for an hour, I’ll add my more delicate veggies. This includes garlic, mushrooms, and tomato. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. There is no limit to the veggies you can add, by the way. I add these veggies because these are the flavours I like and this is what chicken soup tastes like for me. You do you!
With about 15 minutes left, add a tied up bunch of parsley and have a sip of your soup. Adjust the salt as needed.
After the parsley has been in for 15 minutes or so, I’ll start to remove all of the veggies I don’t want to eat and discard them. I take the carrots out second last and take the chicken out last and put those on a plate so I can slice/ shred and add to my bowl. I like to do a final taste test of the broth when there is nothing left in the pot but broth. If it’s too salty at this point, I’ll add a small amount of water to even it out, but that's about the only problem you’re going to have at this point, if you have any.
If you’re making noodles, do not boil them in your soup. It will cloud your soup and it will turn your noodles to mush. Gross! Boil them separately according to package instructions.
Slice up your carrots (or celery or parsnips or whatever you want to keep in your soup), shred your chicken and add them to a bowl with your noodles. Over a fine mesh sieve, ladle you liquid gold broth over top, sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley and you have a perfect bowl of chicken noodle soup.
Store your both separately from your veggies and noodles. That way you can use the broth for other things, like a nice saffron risotto!
So, we’re here at the end and you’ve just had chicken noodle soup completely from scratch and you did it all by yourself. It seems like a lot off the top and can feel daunting, but I hope the tips I’ve peppered in here and explanations for each have made sense to you and now that you know how to make it, you’ll probably never have to reference this recipe ever again.