For my entire life, Nonna’s Chicken Soup has been a comfort to me. Whether I was sick or sick at heart, her soup has seen me through it. The thing is, like most of the things Nonna makes, you won’t ever catch me ordering them anywhere else. When you’re used to the best, it’s hard to stomach anything less than that. I just realized that sounded condescending. I just mean, I know if I order Chicken Noodle Soup somewhere other than Nonna’s house, I am going to be disappointed.
She makes it with pastina which are tiny pasta balls about the size of quinoa. When I am avoiding gluten for health purposes, I actually switch out the pastina for quinoa but if you’re trying this and don’t have issues with gluten, please use pastina and not some noodle and then thank Nonna who is the best.
For a long time, I was intimidated by this recipe because I assumed you had to put a whole chicken in a pot and there was this one time when I had to stick my hand inside a chicken and I didn’t want to repeat it. But no. Nonna has simplified it and made it easy. Not only that but this soup yields too meals. After making the soup, the chicken makes an incredible chicken salad.
Oh, Nonna. You’re simply the best.
This recipe is in her own words. I promised you that.
Chicken Soup + Bonus Chicken Salad
Use at least two pieces of chicken. You can buy a package of chicken breasts. Usually they are a nice size, if the package has three breasts, use three, but,you can also use chicken legs and thighs.
None of the chicken pieces need to be boneless. Sctually with the bones in, makes the soup a little more tasty.
Fill the pot about 2 inches from the top with water
Rinse chicken pieces under cold water
Add chicken pieces to water in pot
After your water comes to a boil you will probably start seeing, for a lack of a better word, scum. With a large tablespoon start skimming the scum off the top of the water and discard in a coffee cup. As it continues to boil, more scum will develop. Keep skimming the scum until most of it is gone.
While the water in pot is heating and coming to a boil, start cleaning your vegetables, or you can clean and cut your veggies before you even start anything else.
Clean one onion
Rinse two to three stalks of celery
Peel and rinse three to four carrots
Cut onion in half
Cut rinsed celery into three to four inch lengths, throwing away about 1/2 inch off each end
Peel and cut carrots into three to four inch lengths, throwing away about 1/2 inch off each end
Side note: If you would like to eat the celery and carrots in your broth, cut in smaller pieces, if you just want the broth, then cut in larger pieces.
After you have cleaned most of the scum off the water, add all of your vegetables.
If you have any Italian parsley, chopped finely, add a small handful to water
Just a side note: If you buy a bunch of parsley, you can wash the whole bunch, dry out the moisture by wrapping in Scott towel for a little while, then cut off long stems, chop the entire bunch, (if you have a small blender you can chop the parsley in there) then you can use whatever amount you need, and freeze the rest in a small container, or even a small plastic baggie. You will be able to use the frozen parsley in other recipes, not only soup.
I like my broth to have a little color. You can do this or not. But if you want, you can either a buy a very small can of Contadina or other brand name tomato sauce and use about two or so tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Or, buy a really red, ripe tomato and cut if in quarters and add to the broth with your other vegetables.
Add a little garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.
Cover the pot, leaving the cover slightly on an angle, so your soup doesn’t boil over unto your stove.
Cook about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
One last thing, after you add chicken, veggies and seasonings, by the way don’t skip on the salt, although make sure you taste after you stir pot to see how it tastes. ADD enough water so that it is about 1/2 inch from the top of the pot. This will give you more broth in the end. Cook on a simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Check water level every so often to see if it needs a little more water.
Adding the Pastina:
There are two different ways you can do it. After you strain your soup and you only have the broth, or the broth and some cut up veggies, you will put your broth in a pot on the stove and put pastina or any time of very small noodles, orzo, etc. and cook the pastina in your broth until the pastina is tender to the bite. The second way is cook the pastina, small noodles, etc. in boiling water, test to see if they are cooked, drain and then add to your broth. Sometimes you lose some of the broth while you are trying to cook the pastina. So, if you are wanting pastina in all of your broth, cook it in the broth. If you are wanting only a portion of the broth, cook the pastina in a separate pot of boiling water. Of course, you will use the right amount of pastina to the amount of broth you have. If your only going to make soup for today and tomorrow, you would add less pastina. If you are going to use all the broth you cooked, more pastina is needed. A small handful of pastina per serving is sufficent. Remember you can freeze the broth with or without the pastina in it, in small containers to fit your needs.
When serving your soup you have the option to drain the chicken and veggies and serve only the broth: or you can eat the veggies with your soup, then you would not strain the veggies from the broth, it is what you like.
You can also take your chicken, if you can eat it, and pull meat of bones after the pieces of cooled, and add to soup mixture.
If you don’t add to soup you can always take the chicken meat off bones, and use for chicken salad. Buy the way the white meat from the breasts is best.
Chicken Salad: Cut-up chicken, half a stalk of celery chopped, 1/4 of an onion chopped, add about 1Tablespoon of NO FAT Mayonnaise, Some people like a little chopped up walnuts or red grapes. The chicken salad should be a taste to your liking.
So now you’ve met Nonna. I usually take her recipes and simplify them as best I can but I have never made this on my own so I am going with her on this. I don’t know what I would do without her.
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