Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Chicken Noodle Soup


On the first Friday of each month, I blog Ina Garten recipes with a fine group of writer-cooks.  Scroll down to the bottom for links to the other posts and come back the next two months for November desserts and December appetizers.

I’m thrilled to eat Chicken Noodle Soup nearly anytime.  Ask Dave.  I’ll eat it even if he makes it and Dave doesn’t usually make soup.  How about you?  Is there anything better when you’re hungry or don’t feel well?  It’s a whole meal in a bowl and I often add extra vegetables to add taste, nutrition, and fiber.  I don’t mind eating it a couple days in a row or for lunches for several.  I’m ecstatic if I look in the freezer and see a container waiting for me when I’m wondering what’s for dinner.  Does chicken soup really increase health?  I don’t know for sure, but I know I’m happier and feel better when I’ve had a big bowl.

The 12th-century Jewish physician, Maimonides, started the chicken soup-as-medicine trend when, in his book, On the Cause of Symptoms, he recommended the broth of hens and other fowl to “neutralize body constitution.” According to Maimonides, boiled chicken soup also played a role in curing leprosy and asthma, and–as a Jewish grandmother might put it–“putting some meat on your bones.”

In Jewish Food: The World at Table, Matthew Goodman reports on a 1978 study conducted at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach that confirmed at least part of Maimonides’ prescription: “chicken soup proved more effective than simple hot or cold water in clearing congested nasal passages.”

courtesy My Jewish Learning

I made this big pot of goodness when our kids and grandkids were coming down to visit earlier this week after the sudden loss of our sweet golden retriever, Miss Gab. (Click for the sad tale.)  This comforting potion was justly the first real meal cooked in our new kitchen, which is almost done now.  (Phewee –I include a few more photos interspersed throughout the post.)


above: Piper Jean, September 29, 2015 at nearly 6 weeks oldphoto-63

So for today:  a quick  or not-so-quick Ina Garten Chicken Noodle Soup, (click for recipe online; it’s from the book below) depending on whether you choose to make or buy stock.

9780609610664_p0_v2_s600While I’m not an expert on Chicken Noodle Soup, I’ll tell you that I’ve made Chicken Noodle Soup every which way but loose for years and that I tested my own shortcut recipe for my book (Soups & Sides for Every Season) over and over…and over again.   Well, I DO love Chicken Noodle Soup…  I tried it faster and slower, with fresh, dried, or frozen noodles, with boxed stock as well as with homemade.   With fresh herbs and dried.  With sea salt and kosher salt. At sea level and at altitude.  No one ever got tired of eating it, least of all me.  It is, after all, America’s favorite soup.  The several people who tested it loved the near-final version, which features chopped boneless chicken thighs sautéed with onions, celery, garlic, onions, and fresh herbs to create the foundation for a soup that can, with practice, come together in maybe forty minutes.  Perhaps less if you have a crazy-hot fire, a kettle that conducts heat perfectly and fast, and you stir without ceasing.


Ina’s Chicken Noodle can be a very quick and simple soup –roast a couple of chicken breasts and use boxed stock (homemade is called for) and it’s done in a flash– or it can take half a day when you make your own stock.  Homemade stock is a tasty, happy, fragrant, and lovely endeavor if you have the time and cash.  One thing no one ever tells you is that it’s not cheap and boxed stock is.  If you use three 5-pound roasting chickens for your stock, you’ve got nigh unto $40 or more invested if you buy “good” chickens, which means organic and free-range.  The other ingredients are an additional expense and we’ll hope you live where your herb garden is still producing voluminous amounts of parsley, though it’s the least expensive ingredient in the recipe.

Below: Kitchen photo taken from foyer. Maple cabinets, quartz counters, red oak flooring, white subway tile with tiny rectangles of neutral shades for accents.  (Scroll down for close up of tile.)  Blue Star 30-inch all gas range + Vent-A-Hood, Viking French-Door fridge, Kitchen Aid dishwasher, Jenn-Air drawer microwave.  Design by Jacqueline O’Neil, Aspen Kitchens.


So what did I do?

I split the difference and made a lighter stock in my 12-quart stock pot out of two fryers @ $12 each and lots of vegetables and parsley.  (I do have a 16 or 20-quart pot that would have fit the 3 roasters Ina calls for, but it’s under a load of construction material in the garage.  I hope it is anyway.)  I did not boil the chicken to death so that I was able to cool and pull it for my soup rather than purchasing and roasting extra bone-in breasts, which have become increasingly difficult to find.  I particularly like dark meat in soup, by the way. (Ina does recommend discarding all of the chicken from the stock, which simmers for four hours. I think I’d at least give it to the dog.) I did have to add water in order to boil the thick noodles, but I also wanted more than six servings.  If I’m going to make soup, there’s going to be enough for a few meals or at least enough to share.  If you’re a single or don’t like leftovers, the amounts in Ina’s recipe will be fine for you.  Cook’s Note:  Tie the peppercorns up in a cheesecloth bag or put them in a tea strainer so you don’t have to fish them out of the vegetables when you strain the stock.

(Below: tile detail from new kitchen.)


I used frozen egg noodles, which are worth their weight in gold, even if they do take a bit longer to make than dried.  They are heavier and more filling, so choose dried egg noodles if you want a lighter soup or one with less calories.  Cook’s Note:  Dried Kluski noodles are also a good choice here.  If you do use frozen noodles, memorize where you found them in the store.  They seem to hide.  Naturally homemade noodles are lovely if you have a little more time.

I added several swigs of hot sauce, which didn’t make the soup hot, but added body, fragrance, and a tish of acid.

I liked a couple of teaspoons of thyme in the soup itself, not just in the stock.

I added two cloves of garlic to the mirepoix (see below) for depth…

 (pronounced “meer-pwah”) is a combination of chopped carrots, celery and onions used to add flavor and aroma to stocks, sauces, soups and other foods. The proportions (by weight) for making mirepoix are 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery.

Finally, I pureed all of the vegetables I used to make the stock and added them to the pot of soup.  That’s the egg yolk-like color and the thicker broth.  I did, of course, chop up a whole new batch of onions, celery, carrots, and parsley for texture, flavor, and color.


And the finIMG_6393al result?  A thicker, richer, more densely colored and perhaps closer to stew than soup with a depth and richness not found in a simpler, brothy and delicious chicken noodle like Ina’s.  I like both styles of soup and the brothy version is more traditional as well as being more the sort of soup folks think of when they think of a healing soup for colds or broken hearts.

I’m a bit embarrassed to realize that I just didn’t make Ina’s soup at all.  I made my own while reading Ina’s book.  Ah, geez.  I do have a broken heart and the soup did help.  Next time I’ll follow the recipe.  Promise.

Cook on, friends…


Ina’s coming on tour…check out the schedule here!

Click HERE for link to the Barefoot Contessa website for lots of great information, including news on Ina’s new book (due out late October and called MAKE IT AHEAD).  There is also an invaluable index that covers all of Ina’s cookbooks as well as an individual index for each book.


September’s second best-selling cookbook on Amazon.comisn’t even out yet, which says something about the broad appeal of its author, Food Network star Ina Garten. Her ode to advance planning, “Make It Ahead,” hits e-shelves in late October, but the book has already sashayed its way past the competition.

And the #1, blue-ribbon award? That goes to ”The Skinnytaste Cookbook,” a low-cal tome that clearly boasts a major following of its own: It only hit shelves on the very last day of the month.



This month we have main dishes, but next month — on Friday, November 7, 2014 –we have super desserts for fall. December 5 we have appetizers perfect for your holiday party. Mark your calendar and plan on visiting and cooking up lots of fall goodies.

Stop in this Friday or beyond  and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up.  All writers will not participate every month, but check out the blogs anyway.  If you’d like to participate on a monthly basis, email me at   If you’d like to join in occasionally, just follow the prompt for the “linky” or blog hop and add your post – Ina Garten recipes only, please.  Use those books you’ve got sitting around!



NEW JOB:  I’ve taken a job as Chef at Shouse Appliance here in Colorado Springs. I’ll be testing DACOR and Jenn-Air appliances three Saturdays a month, 11 am – 2pm right in the showroom.  I’ll be cooking up original recipes (as possible) you can taste test and also showing you some incredible things these appliances can do.  Come see me!

SOUPS & SIDES FOR EVERY SEASON is now available locally at Poor Richard’s in downtown Colorado Springs. Stop by, shop, eat a great meal, and check it out.


Sing a new song (mine is pretty sad today–sorry)



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12 thoughts on “Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Chicken Noodle Soup

  1. Love the new kitchen Alyce! Congratulations on getting it finished, if even “almost.” Beautiful soup too!

  2. I hope you have some nice chicken soup to help you through your loss. I know how hard it is and I’m sending you all the good vibs I can muster.

    I did a roast chicken this time so maybe I’ll make soup from the leftovers….

    • Ah, roasting chicken….Ina’s trademark. I once heard her say that roasted chicken was all anyone wanted for dinner anyway. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I do really like it and those rotisserie chickens DO sell. Lots. Thanks for your kind thoughts and words. Miss Gab was a treasure.

  3. I LOVE all that you have written about, thanks for sharing.

    Our Best Friends, some will never be replaced.

    Thank you,

  4. If anyone knows the basics of chicken soup, it’s Ina! I’ve made her matzoh ball soup, which was divine. Your version of her chicken noodle looks equally delicious!
    So nice your kitchen is done, imagine you are loving it.
    (Alyce, next month will be my final Ina Friday. Not that I don’t have a few other dishes and will no doubt make more, but would rather not be tied down to a certain schedule. I do have a nice seasonal Ina cake recipe I’ll use in November. It’s been great fun and I thank you for everything you’ve put into organizing us!)

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