Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grandmommy's Chicken Noodle Soup

My grandmother, on my mum's side, is an amazing cook. Or was, I guess, since she doesn't really cook anymore. But man, when she did, was she GOOD. When cooking became too much for her and she moved into a senior living home (an old hotel) with a dining room, she passed down her recipes on these lovely index cards that weren't actually index cards, but beautiful stationary with her name engraved on the back.

When I think about those cards, I get sad. My mum doesn't writer her recipes down on cards like that. And I definitely don't...I put them on a blog. Will my grandkids get as sentimental when they read my blog as I do when I see my grandmother's scrawling handwriting on those ivory and green cards?

Sadly, we don't even have all of her recipes on these cards. There are a lot that my mum or I need get...most important, her famous fried chicken that everyone in the family raves about but that I've actually never tried since she stopped making it when people became worried about fried food and clogged arteries. Can you imagine? If I had my grandmother's recipe, I'm pretty sure I could put the Colonel out of business.

When I was younger, my grandmother would come and babysit my brother and I so our parents could go on vacation without their terrible twosome (I like to think we weren't that terrible, but they left us at home, so who knows!) I'd look forward to her breaded veal, fried up in an inch of oil on the stove to a golden brown. And her apple crisp, which remains to this day my favorite dessert, and which I believe is the absolute perfect way to use fall's massive supply of apples (I'm already getting excited for my CSA during that time). And her turkey stuffing, which my aunt still makes since she took over Thanksgiving (although I'd bet it is a bit healthier than the original), and her homemade cranberry sauce (When I was a tiny tot, my grandmother asked me which cranberry sauce I preferred, and I still haven't lived down, to this day, that I said the kind with the lines on it--she used to spend hours making homemade cranberry sauce and was, it is safe to say, not exactly pleased with her grandchild's response. She stopped making the sauce shortly thereafter.)

But my absolute favorite was her chicken noodle soup, which was served with these tiny little pastini, a pasta the size of a pen tip shaped like tiny stars, perfect for little kids because, even now, I have trouble scooping up the massive strips of pasta you get in some soups. This is one of the recipes that my mum has hidden in her Joy of Cooking cookbook written by my grandmother on her stationary and is the perfect chicken noodle soup for those days when you are feeling under the weather and just want your mum, your bed and a bowl of soup. I had my wisdom teeth removed about four years ago and, I kid you not, I survived for days purely on this soup.

I am happy to share the recipe for this soup that has such a special place in my heart with all of you. I hope everyone reading has as wonderful of memories as I do of me and my grandmother, but if yours didn't pass down a delicious chicken noodle soup, feel free to borrow pass this one off as a family recipe. I'm sure my grandmother wouldn't mind.

Grandmommy's Chicken Noodle Soup


2 1/2 lb. fryer chicken
1 lb. carrots
1 large onion
1 lb celery
salt and pepper
pasta (I recommend a small one like pastini or ditalini)


1. Peel the carrots; cut the carrots and celery in half. Cut the onion in half or quarters, depending on how large the onion is. Place the raw fryer chicken and cut veggies in a soup pot. Fill pot with water.

2. Add paprika, oregano, parsley salt and pepper to the water. Stir to combine.

3. Cook the soup for two to two and a half hours. The chicken will stay moist since it is cooking in water, so don't worry about overcooking. The veggies should be falling apart.

4. Strain the soup (obviously keeping the broth, since that's the base of the soup. Remove the meat from the chicken and chop the veggies. Return to the broth.

5. If you are not eating the entire thing of soup right now, this is the time to store it. If you are, add your pasta to the soup and cook until al dente. If stored, do not add the pasta until you are eating--then add pasta to the amount of soup you will be eating and cook. This ensures you don't have icky pasta.

As you may have seen from Sunday meal planning, this was one of the meals I was cooking for my dad since he is getting surgery. Thus, I  stored the soup (if five massive containers) so that some can go in the freezer (for meeee) and some my dad can cook this week. After all, it is the perfect meal for when you're not feeling great.

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