Monday, October 1, 2007

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Failure’s Soul

(This title is particularly relevant to yesterday's NL East ballgames. Who replaced Tom Glavine with my my 90-year-old Aunt Dot?)

Usually, when I mess with recipes, the results leave something to be desired.

Like that Amazon Cake where I doubled the sugar and upped the oil content by half? Dad had a fine birthday pudding that fateful year.

Or how about the time with the Weight Watchers Macaroni and Cheese? In retrospect, substituting fat-free singles for low-fat cheddar was a bad idea. (Mmm … orange plastic …)

Ooo – then there were those Cooking Light zucchini chips where I decided SALT WAS NO OBJECT, and the end product was akin to licking the inside of a McDonald’s french fry bin.

Yeah. My record kind of stinks. If I was a baseball club, I'd be the September 2007 Mets (with better pitching). Last week though, the semi-evil machinations worked. I took Sarah Moulton’s Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup, played with a few of the directions, and came out with something vaguely edible. No – that’s selling it short. It was actually GOOD.

Starting with the basic recipe, I reduced the butter, used stock I had in the freezer, dumped in leftover meat from last week’s Roast Chicken with Grapes, halved the whole thing, and only followed the latter half of Sarah’s directions. The results were a hearty, high-end chicken noodle soup that went swimmingly with a small side salad. Though I was initially alarmed by the calorie content, my fears were for naught since the soup was a meal in itself.

So, take THAT, Self Doubt! Cram it in your ear, Low Expectations! Blow it out your rear end, Part of My Brain That Insists I Endanger the Lives of All I Hold Dear When I Go Near a Stove! This worked! And it will for you, too. (No orange plastic, I promise.)

Two quick side notes:

1) This is a make-and-eat-immediately dish. The leftovers are all right, but don’t really qualify as soup, since the noodles absorb what’s left of the liquid. And there's a slight congealing issue, but that's best left unexplored.

2) A store-bought quart of chicken stock will reduce the fat and calorie total pretty significantly, but will detract from the taste overall.

Sara Moulton’s Heavily Revised Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
4 servings – Packed 1 cup each
Adapted from Sara Moulton.

1 quart chicken stock, plus more in case you need it
10 oz. roast chicken leftovers (no skin, trimmed of fat) cut into pieces
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup mushrooms, quartered
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 ounces dried egg noodles
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1) In a large stock pot, bring broth to a rolling simmer. Drop in onion, carrots, and celery, and cook about 8 or 10 minutes, until vegetables soften.

2) In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Saute 5 or so minutes, until they start browning. Add lemon juice and stir.  Pour mushroom-lemon mixture into broth.  Then add noodles, parsley, and chicken. Simmer another 5 minutes, or until noodles are tender, adding more broth if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
345 calories, 9.3 g fat, $0.75

1 quart chicken stock: 346 calories, 11.5 g fat, $0.92
10 oz. roast chicken meat leftovers: 531 calories, 20.5 g fat, free (leftovers)
1/4 cup chopped onion: 12 calories, 0 g fat, $0.08
1 carrot, peeled: 25 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.11
1 celery stalk: 6 calories, 0 g fat, $0.20
1 teaspoon butter: 34 calories, 3.8 g fat, $0.03
1/2 cup mushrooms: 8 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.75
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice: negligible calories and fat, $0.06
4 ounces dried egg noodles: 419 calories, 1 g fat, $0.50
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley: negligible calories and fat, $0.33
TOTAL: 1381 calories, 37 g fat, $2.98
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 345 calories, 9.3 g fat, $0.75

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Country Girl At Heart said...

This recipe will be great for me to try this week. I have some egg noodles in the cabinet and some chopped roasted chicken in the freezer. It looks delicious.

Marsha said...

As a Philly girl, I don't see many problems with the Sept. '07 Mets - but I do understand your point.

My own really memorable failure was a sponge cake that didn't have so much sponginess. God bless my dad, he ate a (two-pound) piece anyway.

You might like the baking disasters at There are some doozies there that definitely make me feel better when I'm feeling down about something gone horribly wrong!

Kris said...

Marsha, this baking site is so neat. Reminds me a bit of Etiquette Hell, but without the Mother-In-Laws.

As for the NL ... oy. You guys totally deserved it. The Mets played like bums the last three weeks. And Ryan Howard - that guy's got a nice career ahead of him.

Diane said...

Actually, the "congealing issue" is a good thing. It means you made your stock right. If it doesn't congeal, you don't have stock, you have broth.

Bones have gelatin and other goodies in the marrow. When you slowly simmer them in liquid, it all extracts into your broth. The more gelatin, the better the broth will taste and the better it will feel in your mouth.

When you reheat the broth, the gelatin will melt again.

Kris said...

Diane, thank you! I wasn't sure if something had gone horribly wrong. Still so much to learn...

Marie-Jo Gartshore said...

Wow, this recipe is perfect! Not too hard! My only regret is that I would have put more mushrooms in...but I will do that next time! I also made a mistake on the pasta and put in like 8 ounces instead of 4, but it worked out perfectly! I love pasta so I am not complaining! :) Thanks for this link! I am learning how to cook so easy and quick recipes like this are perfect! :)