About once a month or so, The Beloved and I go visit some of our favorite people in Pinehurst. Not that they are our favorites in Pinehurst, although that is certainly true, but they are some of our favorite people who happen to live in Pinehurst. I’m glad we got that all cleared up.
I know that Uncle Ray is a big Panera fan. Whenever he and “The Ladies” go in, they get the Star Treatment–the line folks will bring over their food (no schlepping for them, oh no). Everyone knows them by name (“Nooorrm!!”), and they always get a great table. Don’t think that it’s just because they are “elderly.” Nope–it’s because they are Good People in the truest sense of the word, and good breeds good.
We count ourselves fortunate to know them and to claim them as family.
The point of all of this, aside from letting you know how great these folks are, is that they love soup. This works out well for me, because I like to make soup, so yesterday I carted my homemade chicken noodle soup down there for our visit. Remember how that soup started out? You’ll be pleased to know it all turned out fine. But, since I’m not a planner, I forgot to take a picture of the soup in Auntie Ev’s lovely bowls. No, we ate it all. Five people, three of whom were adults during The Great Depression, devoured 1 3/4 quarts of soup. Shameful, but we were happy. And full. After lunch, when we were getting ready to head home, I realized that I’d forgotten to document the Soup Eating Process, so I asked them if they wouldn’t mind being on the Hinternet as “Happy People Who Have Recently Ingested Very Good Soup.” They were cool with that, so know that bellies full of soup hide behind (and somewhat to the south of) those smiling faces.
Again, remember that I’m telling you exactly what I put in my soup. You use whatever you like. All amounts are guesses–after all, if I can’t even remember to thaw my stock before starting, do you really think that I use measuring cups?!
Better-Than-Panera Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 2 ribs of celery, small dice
- 2 carrots, small dice
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- abot 1 TBSP Old Bay Seasoning (I love it)
- fine sea salt and fresh black pepper
Sweat everything together and then lightly caramelize. This took about 10 minutes or so. This is how I start almost all of my soups, and you can, too. If you want a cream-based soup, add a little more oil and an equal amount of flour and cook for a couple of extra minutes.
- Add (thawed) stock. I guess I had about 3 quarts or so that I had made the week before. (carcass from a roasted chicken, pepper corns, herbs, carrot, onion (w/skin, cut in half) 1 head of garlic (cut in half), celery, 1 shallot (w/skin on, cut), cold water to cover–simmer 8 hours. Strain)
- 1 bag of “soup mix”–carrots, green beans, onion, potato, okra, peas, corn.
- 1/2 bag of lima beans (they were in the freezer–I didn’t thaw them first)
- 2/3 bag of TJ’s Melange a Trois–tri-colored pepper strips (they were in the freezer, too)
Simmer, simmer, simmer until all the veggies are cooked and soup-like. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- 3 big handfuls of fine egg noodles (mine were made by the lovely folk at Manischewitz)
Simmer, simmer until noodles are tender. Serve. The End.
Questions? Yes, you in the green? Of course you can add some tomato paste at the beginning and throw in some diced tomatoes with the rest of the veggies. Over there in the back? Oh, right. If you went the roux route, add some half and half or even some heavy cream when you add the noodles. Yes, that’s all there is to it. One more…Ah,yes ma’am? Yes, deglazing with some wine before adding the stock would make for a very tasty soup. And there’s no reason you couldn’t add a squirt of lemon juice towards the end. If that’s all, let’s adjourn.
Why using homemade stock makes a better soup:
Gelatin. Just look at the texture of the chilled soup. When heated, the gelatin melts, giving the soup body and richness that you just can’t get if you use boxed or canned broth. The soup will still be really good, but I don’t think soup can be great unless you start with homemade stock.