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Southern Maryland is a beautiful piece of country nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. Our area is rich with farmland, Amish and Mennonite communities, farmer's markets, roadside stands, beautiful waterways and seductive scenery. Southern Marylander's are famous for crabs, oysters, rockfish, and "Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham." Although we are very proud of our famous dishes and relish every opportunity to get together to enjoy them, not everything we eat is seasoned with Old Bay. We do eat "regular" food too. :o) Many families have been here for generation upon generation, each of them blessing the next with many treasured recipes. Our region is populated with several military bases, giving us the added benefit of diverse recipe collections. I hope to share with you our true food heritage, our famous recipes, and some of the diversity we've picked up along the way.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup - Magic in a pot!

Yummm!  Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup!!

Between working full-time in a busy office, parenting a crew of "young adults" (21, 20, 19, 16) and a 9 nine year old little man, raising a feisty little Jack Russell named Lucy, trying to pay attention to my husband, cooking, homework, cleaning (AUGH! "Calgon take me away" as the commercial says!)  I am incredibly busy - all the time!  I know, who isn't, right?  Well, sometimes this means ordering food on the run, a lot of "fend for yourself" nights, and just overall stress trying to get everyone fed something healthy and home cooked while meeting all of the demands of the day.  So whenever life allows it, I try to stock up on some home cooked meals that are quick grabs during the work week.

Now, making this chicken noodle soup is not quick by any means.  This one takes a little work but I assure you... I promise you... it is well worth it!  This soup has been known to heal marriages, bring back that lovin' feeling, shorten the duration of the common cold and other "feeling ucky" ailments, and make everyone you love and miss come flocking to your kitchen to give you hugs, praises and smiles.  No kidding.  It's that good.

Today's Accomplishments:

  • Reserved 1 quart homemade chicken stock to keep in the freezer for future recipes
  • Stored two large containers of homemade chicken noodle soup in the freezer
  • Stored four serving size portions of chicken noodle soup in the freezer for quick one-person meals
  • Stored one large container of homemade chicken noodle soup in the fridge for tomorrow
  • Made every member of my household come emerging from their respective corners, pulling themselves away from video games, the computers, from the phone, from texting, from sleeping in the recliner, from watching t.v., from playing around outside - from everywhere - to the kitchen where they all said "Oh my God that smells so good!" while they looked around with eyes like saucers trying to find the goods.
  • Made my husband treat me like a newlywed - he kept telling me how beautiful I was, putting his arms around me, and looking over my shoulder into the pot to see how it was coming.  He also kept telling me "God, you are a good woman." and "I'm the luckiest man alive." (I'm telling you, this stuff is powerful!)

You are probably sick of me rambling by now, if you are still here.  So I guess I better tell you how it was done... let's get cookin'!  


Ingredient List 1 (starting the broth):

3   TBSP butter

2   TBSP minced garlic

2   medium onions, peeled and quartered

5-6   stalks of celery (just using the ends/tops in this section)

5-6   carrots (just using the tips/bottoms in this section)

1 1/2   gallons water

1 3-5   pound whole chicken

1   TBSP salt

1   very large pot

Ingredient List 2 (Make the soup!):

2-3   medium onions, peeled and chopped

8      chicken bullion cubes

2-3   TBSP poultry seasoning

1       TBSP Thyme

1-2   TBSP Salt

1-2    tsp pepper

5-6   stalks of celery (using the middle parts in this section)

5-6   carrots, peeled/sliced (using the middle parts in this section)

Noodles – At the very end!

You will need a very large pot.  I used my 22 quart canning pot.  In this section, don't worry about how pretty the vegetables are cut because you are going to strain them out and toss them.  At this point, they are being used to flavor your broth.


Start the BROTH

  1. Add 3 TBSP butter to pot.  Turn the pot on medium heat.  
  2. Add about 2 TBSP of minced garlic to the butter.  
  3. Peel and quarter 2 medium onions and add to the pot.  Stir it around a bit.
  4. Cut the tops and bottoms off of 5 or 6 stalks of celery.  Rinse the celery and add to the pot. 
  5. Cut the tops and tips off about 5-6 carrots, rinse and add them to the pot.  
  6. Reserve the remainder of the celery and carrots for later.  
  7. Stir this around for about 3-5 minutes.  
  8. Add 1 1/2 gallons of water to the pot.
  9. Wash one whole chicken in cold water, remove innards, wash inside and out.  Add whole chicken to pot.
  10. Open the pouch of innards, rinse with cold water and add to the pot.
  11. Leave the pot on the stove cooking at a simmer, not a boil and WALK AWAY.  This is going to cook for 3-4 hours.  

See how the chicken is sunk to the bottom when you start out?

Before I made it to step eight, four members of my family came looking for me in the kitchen to find out what it was and wanted to know if they could eat it right now.  

After about 3-4 hours, your chicken should be done.  In fact, it should be floating to the top by now and beginning to fall off the bone.  Perfect! 


See how the chicken rises to the top after it's cooked?

  1.  Very carefully, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. 
  2. Strain all the veggies from the pan, leaving only the broth (toss the veggies you removed from the pan). 
  3. Let the juices in the pan settle for a few minutes so all the fat/oils float back to the top.  Use a ladle to gently push down around the edges on top of the broth to remove the layer of fat/oils.
  4. While the chicken is cooling a bit, add 5 or 6 peeled sliced carrots, 2-3 medium (peeled/chopped) onions, 6 stalks of celery (sliced). 
  5. Add 8 bullion cubes to the broth (we are making a LOT here).  Add 2-3 TBSP poultry seasoning, 1-2 TBSP salt, 2 tsp pepper, 1 TBSP thyme.
  6. Cook at a simmer until the vegetables are fork tender.
  • A note on seasoning:  Start out with half of the seasoning called for in the recipe.  Put a little of the broth in a dish and do a taste test.  If you think it needs more, gradually add more, repeating the taste test until your tongue is doing a happy dance in your mouth.
  • ** A note on how to cut the vegetables:  My daughter always asks me "how do you want them cut?" and my answer is "Imagine this food on your fork or spoon and cut it to the size you would like to eat."  It's that simple.  So cut yours however you like it.  We like ours country style, meaning slightly large uneven chunks.

At the very end:

1  16 ounce package noodles of your choice

Add package of noodles to pot and cook until done to your liking.

I used a brand called “Grandma’s homestyle noodles” (found at Walmart), and so far I think they are the best I’ve tried.  Often times, I will make dumplings and drop them in.  Since I found these noodles, I make dumplings less often.  Another trick, in place of pre-packaged noodles or homemade dumplings, is to use a can of flakey biscuits.  Cut the biscuits in half or quarters, then peel some of the layers apart, and drop them in.  Don’t stir them or they will dissolve.  Drop them in and walk away for about 10 minutes, come back and use the back of your spoon to push them down and walk away again for another 10 minutes – keep doing this until you are happy with what it looks like.


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