Is there anything better than a steaming hot bowl of homemade soup on a winter day? I mean, if you have to live in Northeast Ohio in January, you should, at the very least, have something hot and tasty to eat.
I make a lot of soup in the fall and winter, big pots of it that only taste better with each re-heating. I make bean soup with ham and ditalini. I make lentil soup with chunks of kielbasa and lots of garlic. I make Ben's favorite, beef barley soup with turnip greens and a medley of mushrooms. New for this fall, I made up a recipe for stuffed cabbage soup. I downloaded four different recipes I found online, and took what I wanted from each. Not to brag, but that is damn good soup.
The best soup I make, however, is also the simplest and the one I have been making for the longest time - chicken noodle soup. When Julie had a cold she couldn't shake last week, I knew it was time to make some. I took a couple of roast chicken carcasses from the freezer, put them in the stock pot with onions and garlic and celery and carrots and filled the pot with water. Then I let it simmer all day. I swear, the smell alone is good for what ails you.
Once the stock has been strained, I add noodles and some fresh parsley, and that's all. Oh, I sauté some vegetables and chop up some chicken for others to add, but nothing else goes in my soup bowl. I am a chicken noodle soup purist.
For years, I have preferred extra fine egg noodles above all others, in spite of the fact that they generally slip off my spoon faster than I can slurp them up. I have, however, found a new noodle that is worthy of my chicken stock, and, I would go so far as to say, completes the soup in a way I didn't even know it was lacking.
Julie and I found these noodles in a little import store in a strip mall in Uniontown. The store sells mostly Eastern European food, and we found a whole shelf of Hungarian egg noodles. Now, I happen to know a little (well, very little) about Hungarian egg noodles, as I have a very clear memory of my Hungarian grandma rolling out noodles and cutting them into long strips on the big kitchen table in the basement of her house. I had never seen anyone do that before - nor since, for that matter.
Julie and I bought a couple of different shapes, but the ones I like best are called Csiga, and they look like little ridged horns. And I am telling you, they are perfect for my chicken noodle soup. They are eggy and delicious, needless to say, but what I really love about them is they stay on my spoon. I don't think I can overstate the importance of that.
So, if you're cold and hungry, give me a bit of advance notice and I'll cook up a big pot of soup for you. I don't think it will be chicken noodle, however, unless I have some Csiga in my cupboard.