... that's really more of a stew than a soup. Actually, it's more of a casserole, except that it's not baked, in that it could almost be eaten with a fork. In fact, in the original recipe, it called for whole chicken pieces, but somewhere along the way we decided to shred the chicken.
It's still technically winter, and meteorologically (word? should be) it's typically the coldest part of the winter these days. Still flu and cold season, and everyone's Granny knows chicken soup is good for what ails you.
So here's an in-between chicken soupish concoction that can be slapped together in a moment's notice, when nothing else soups good and you need a bowl/plate of something hot that smells like home.
About 45 minutes total, which includes 25 minutes of simmer time where you can work on something else. I like this particular one because you put the chicken breasts in whole, so you don't have to worry about cross-contamination with your knives or cutting boards. Just one less thing to worry about, and one step closer to sitting down to eat.
We also like the frozen egg noodles, which are a bit gummier than dried noodles and soak up the chicken flavor.
4-5 cups of chicken stock
1 medium onion (yellow or sweet)
3 celery ribs, sliced down the middle and then cut medium-fine
3 carrots or one bag of baby carrots, cut into 1/4 inch chunks or medium-fine slices
1 bay leaf if you have it
One package chicken breasts, 3-4 breasts, 1.5-2.5 pounds or so
2 teaspoons dried sage
1-2 teaspoons salt
.5-1 teaspoon black pepper (both to your taste)
1 pound frozen cavatelli, dumplings, or egg noodles.
2 Tablespoon each butter (slightly softened) and flour. You can get these two out at the beginning, and the butter should be soft enough by the time you need it.
In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, simmer the chicken stock, onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaf for about 5-10 minutes. Add the whole chicken breasts, sage, and salt/pepper. Simmer for 25-30 minutes covered or partially covered. Flip the chicken a couple or three times to make sure it cooks evenly.
Once this is going, cook the frozen noodles according to its instructions. This usually takes about 15 minutes — 5-10 minutes to get the water boiling, then 10 minutes of cooking time.
At this point, you can opt to serve the chicken breasts whole, which means you'll need a knife, fork, and spoon when it's eating time. Or, you can take two forks and pull the chicken apart into bite sized pieces.
Mix the flour and butter until smooth. Push as much of the chicken and veggies as you can to the side of the pot and spoon the butter/flour into the liquid in the middle. Stir or whisk into the soup, and then add the noodles. Simmer for a couple more minutes so the noodles absorb some of the flavor and everything is evenly heated. Serve in soup bowls or shallow pasta bowls.
Let's go back to the simmer time. Once the soup / stew is ready to simmer, you can either clean up the kitchen or whip up some biscuits. If you choose the latter, here you go.
Dry ingredients, can be prepped ahead of time:
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
6 Tbs butter, cold, cold, cold
1 cup shredded Cheddar
Preheat the oven to 450º. Mix the flour, sugar, powder, and salt, and then cut in the butter and add the shredded cheese. Lightly combine.
Mix and stir in:
1 cup butter milk *
1 egg, beaten
* No butter milk? One cup of plain yogurt works, or put one Tbs of either vinegar (white or cider) in a measuring cup and fill with milk to the one cup line. Let it stand for 10 minutes to thicken.
Pour the liquid into the dry and very lightly combine just until mixed. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or not) and scoop 1/4 cup of the batter for each biscuit. They'll rise just a bit, so space them out 1-2". Bake for 15 minutes. Should be ready just in time for the soup.