On a cold winter weekend day when nobody wants to go outside, there are few better things than a pot of chicken noodle soup, quietly simmering on the stove while my family, in all likelihood, is glued to another Star Wars marathon. But on a cold winter weekend day when nobody wants to go outside but we also don’t want to spend the afternoon long-cooking a pot of bone broth? This, this is the soup we make.
One of my favorite discoveries of the last few years was that I didn’t actually need to make, to buy, or even to build-from-bouillon chicken stock to make chicken noodle soup. It turns out that just simmering boneless, skinless chicken thighs with aromatics in salted water creates a gentle but delicious soup-building base. With ginger, garlic, scallions, and a punchy seasoning added at the end, all efforts to explain calmly how much I love this soup fall short. A deeply flavored chicken noodle soup you can make in 45 minutes is one we’re going to want to make as often as possible.
A few things here are key: Chicken thigh cutlets have more fat than breast cutlets, and the richness helps build a more flavorful soup here. Adding the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil at the end as a salty, robust finish, versus cooking them into the broth, keeps them from getting lost in the soup. This gives it a bit of a hot-and-sour-soup note, too, which is also finished with vinegar.
Excerpted from Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Forever Files. Copyright © 2022 by Deb Perelman. Photography copyright © 2022 by Deb Perelman. Book Design by Cassandra J.Pappas. Jacket Photography by Deb Perelman. Food Styling by Barret Washburne. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Cook the noodles in the soup right before you want to serve it, or they will keep “drinking” the broth until there’s little left.
Bring the chicken, garlic, ginger, scallion whites (reserve greens), salt, pepper, and water to a boil in a 4-to-5-quart pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is very tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
While the soup simmers, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a bowl, and add as much or as little chili crisp as your heart desires. (Mine desires a lot, but, to keep the less spice-inclined kids happy, we use just a smidge and add more to our bowls at the table.)
Remove the chicken with tongs, and transfer it to a cutting board. Add the noodles and carrot to the broth, following the cooking-time estimate on your noodles’ package directions. Use two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Once the noodles are done, return the chicken to the pot, and rewarm for 1 minute. taste, adjusting seasoning if needed.
Divide the soup between bowls. Add a handful of scallion greens, and drizzle each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the soy-sauce mixture, adding more to taste.