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Practicing the basics: chicken noodle soup

Chicken noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food when you’re not feeling well, and for good reasons: it’s a good shot of protein, hydration, and carbs, plus some steam to clear your sinuses and maybe even a little bit of vegetables.

Chicken noodle soup is also very easy to make. The only trick here is that we are including several ingredients that cook at different rates, so for optimal results we will cook them separately and then combine them right at the end.

Makes approximately 4 servings, depending on your portion size. Time required: about 45 minutes, including prep time.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried pasta, preferably small pieces.
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided. We won’t be using it all at the same time.
  • 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces. You could use chicken thigh here, but with the quick cook time the meat will be tough. If we were simmering the chicken in the soup for an hour (which we’re not), then chicken thigh would be a better choice than breast.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth. Store-bought or make it yourself.
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Bring a medium pot of water to boil, and cook the pasta for two minutes less than the recommended time on the box. Drain and set aside, covered. When we add the pasta back at the end, we’ll finish cooking it.

In a large pot heat 1 tbsp. of the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, sprinkle with a dash of salt, and saute until cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside. If they are still a little pink in the middle, that’s ok too; like the pasta, the chicken will get some bonus cooking time at the end.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp. of oil to the pot, followed by the onion, carrot and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about five minutes. You’ve seen this before: aromatic vegetables.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and pasta to the pot and when it returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken and pasta are heated through and fully cooked.

Season to taste and serve immediately.

Tips and recommendations:

  • Feel free to mess with the proportions of vegetables, pasta and chicken.
  • You can add other vegetables too, such as peas — but cook them separately and combine them at the end, rather than trying to cook them in the soup.
  • There’s lots of room to change up the seasonings. Options for “warming up” this recipe include paprika, curry powder, red pepper flakes (or hot pepper sauce), cumin, or even a dash of chili powder. Start small; the ingredients in chicken noodle soup generally don’t have strong flavors and it’s easy to overpower them with spices.