Monday, July 27, 2009

My Grandmother's Chicken Soup

I wasn't going to post back-to-back recipes but this isn't just a recipe, it's a story.

When I was a child my grandparents lived in Arizona but in the summer they would make the trek up the Alcan to Alaska. The Alcan is the Alaska-Canada highway that winds its way for four or five days, up and down through the wilderness.

The last time I traveled the road it was mostly unpaved and I remember mile after mile of hills and valleys that jarred my bones. Grandpa and Grandma drove Old Blue, their Ford sedan, all the way from Chandler to visit in the summer and once they got here they'd pack up a little trailer and head down to the Kenai to fish.

Grandpa would fish and then Grandma would smoke and can the catch and when they needed supplies or wanted to drop in to see the grandchildren they'd run up to Anchorage for a visit. And on special days--days when we were really, really lucky--Grandma would fix her famous chicken noodle soup and baking powder biscuits.

I can't smell a pot of chicken soup on the stove without thinking of Grandma and while chicken soup may not be your standard summer fare while I was sick last week it was about the only thing that sounded good to eat.

Chicken soup is chicken soup but what made Grandma's soup special--what made it the kind of soup that we'd cheer for is that she made homemade noodles. Big, fat, slurpy noodles that were hard to eat without cutting them with a knife in your bowl. Noodles that only got better the next day when you could have the leftovers with Grandma for lunch (like me, she was big on savoring the leftovers).

My recipe calls for boiling a cut-up chicken, reserving the broth, then sauteing a cup of finely diced celery, a cup of finely diced sweet onion and a cup of finely diced carrots slowly over a medium heat until things soften up. Then I add the fresh cracked pepper and a couple dashes of ground cloves. It sounds weird but the cloves really give it that wonderful aroma that tops it off.

Saute another minute or so then add the broth, shredded chicken and a couple of bay leaves. Then come the noodles.

These aren't fancy noodles, they're as homey and down-to-earth as you can get and are really more like spaetzel or dumplings but they're worth the extra ten minutes of work. You combine:

1 beaten egg
2 T milk
½ t salt
1 c flour

I mix it in the food processor so it only takes a second, you might need to adjust the milk or flour so that you get a big stretchy ball that sticks together properly.

Once you've got the ball, put it on a floured surface and roll it out. It doesn't need to be pretty but make it rather thin if you can. Then I use a pastry cutter like you see above to cut the shape in half then chop off lengths of noodles one after the other before dropping them into the boiling water. Oh, and the add the salt at the end after the noodles are cooked. I tend to forget the salt.

Give the noodles a good dose of flour too because they won't stick together and the floury noodles just add an extra creamy thickness to the soup whick makes it even better. I usually double the noodle recipe for my big pot.

So give it a try, I promise it's easy and the difference is so wonderful you'll thank me (and Grandma) for it.

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11 comments:

illahee said...

that sounds fabulous!!

MommyJ said...

And now I know what we're having for dinner tonight. :)

I'm all about soup, even in the summertime.

Kara said...

Wow - homemade noodles have always daunted me but you make it sound pretty manageable. Going to have to give this a try!

Heart2Heart said...

Michelle,

I have always wanted to try homemade noodles but thought I had to have the pasta noodle attachment. Thanks for showing me a simple way I can try them now!

I hope you are feeling so much better!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Daisy said...

Mmm. I'm making chili tonight; not exactly summer fare, either, but my husband has been sick. Your noodles sound delicious!

MommyTime said...

This recipe sounds fabulous. Not that I'm looking forward to being ill this fall, but I am looking forward to chilly days so I can make it!

hostgator coupon said...

Very yummy to look at. I feel hungry now.

liz said...

I love it! I've been making chicken stock like crazy these days-- I think I feel fall coming on a bit! This looks fab, will have to get brave enough to try making my own noodles one of these days.

Terresa said...

big fat slurpy noodles? I'm there. Memories...delicious ones at that!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I've never thought of making my own noodles before. Your Grandma's a genius!

My grandma's secret trick is to soak dried lima beans in chicken stock rather than water. Awesome.

Edward Family said...

I just got finished eating our dinner, chicken noodle soup with these noodles. I remember my mom making these in soup! Man it was great! I think I made them a bit to thick, but they were fine. Soooo, simple to make. Anyone out there, give it a try! Thanks!