Chicken Noodle Soup

If you haven’t pulled out the soup pot, there isn’t a better time than now. Nighttime temperatures are dipping into the low teens and single digits, with daytime highs in the 20s.

Of course, as many of you know, it doesn’t have to be cold for me to start making soup. I pretty much do it year-round. I find it’s really nice to come home at noon on workdays and warm up a bowl of homemade soup. Not only is it nutritious and filling, it’s also quick.

This morning, a friend commented about the wonderful chicken noodle soup that his wife had made for him. He said it didn’t contain any meat, just low-sodium chicken broth and a ton of vegetables.

That reminded me of my latest batch of soup, except that mine had pearled barley instead of noodles and my broth came from a half-dozen or so pheasant necks and backbones that I cooked up in about 3 quarts of water after a recent hunting trip.

The soup also contained several carrots, an onion, a couple of celery stalks, a half-cup of homemade tomato juice and three or four quartered potatoes.

I seasoned my soup with a little sea salt, pepper and about 1 to 2 teaspoons of marjoram. Marjoram, a member of the mint family, is a spice that I didn’t use until just a couple of years ago. But I’ve discovered that it really adds something to vegetable soups.

With another batch of broth in the refrigerator after a last weekend’s hunt, I’m already planning what kind of soup to make next. This time, I’m going with the noodles (some wonderful homemade ones from a co-worker, Paulette Tobin, who gets them in her hometown of Hosmer, S.D.) along with the pearled barley. I also might put in some root vegetables — rutabagas and turnips — from my garden .

I got my inspiration to add the root veggies from the following, which will tucked away in my recipe box for use later this winter.

Roasted Vegetable Chicken Noodle Soup
1 cup peeled carrots, (about 3 medium, cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup peeled, cubed turnip or potato (about 1 medium, cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 cup celery (about 3 stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water
4 (4.5-ounce cans fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups uncooked no-yolk noodles
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray coating. Combine carrots, onions, potatoes and celery. Drizzle with oil and toss well to coat. Arrange vegetables on prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes or until browned, stirring 2 or 3 times.
Meanwhile, combine water, chicken broth, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and stir in uncooked chicken; reduce heat to simmer and simmer 20 minutes.
Stir in roasted vegetables and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in uncooked noodles and simmer 10 additional minutes, stirring occasionally.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 1-cup serving: 170 calories, 21 percent of calories from fat, 5 grams fat (trace saturated), 33 milligrams cholesterol, 16 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 173 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.