Homemade Chicken Soup with Noodles Made from Scratch

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By Erik & Kate Mignault  (Kate’s Family Recipe)
 
What is it about a cup of hot chicken noodle soup that can warm your bones on a cold winter’s night?  And yes, it gets cold enough here in Texas for hot soup. In New England, my mother would use our 35° garage to store this soup over night as the pot was usually too large for our refrigerator and she was too lazy to put it away in a tupperware. We would come home from church and put it directly back on the stove to warm, and eat as a family with a loaf of crusty bread. 
 
Family recipes are a staple on this blog, what is my family’s recipe today, might be your family’s tomorrow. This soup is from my great grandmother and has a rich broth as well as a rich history. 
 
These flavors could never come from a can, most soups from a can should just stay there!
 
What you will need –
 

Chicken Soup 

  • 2 whole organic young chickens – 2 or 3 pounds each
  • 1 cup flat parsley, rough chopped
  • 1 bag of carrots, about 7 or 8 peeled and chopped
  • 4 or 5 celery stocks washed and chopped
  • 20 cups of water (filtered or bottled)
  • 1 whole onion peeled
  • 5 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper

Noodles from Scratch

  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 3/4 Flour
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup of Milk

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Unwrap and rinse the chickens. Make sure to take out any of the innards from the chickens. Most come with neck and livers inside, discard them. In a very large stock pot, (12 plus quarts) add the chickens, crushed garlic and the peeled yellow onion. Bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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Meanwhile use this time to peel and chop all of your veggies, setting them aside in a bowl.

After simmering for an 1 1/2 to 2 hours, remove and discard the onion. Remove the chickens and set aside to cool. Add your bowl of chopped veg and bring the stock back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the veggies and stock for about 30 minutes until the veggies are soft.IMG_9403

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Once the chickens have cooled, carefully separate the chicken from the bones making sure to discard any funky pieces. Tear apart the chicken into small pieces with your hands. This will ensure that you have removed all of the bones and inedible pieces of chicken. Add the chicken back into the soup with the vegetables. Now for the noodles.

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Noodles From Scratch –

Making the noodles (Country Noodles also sometimes called Spaetzle) from scratch is the most time consuming piece of the recipe. Up until this point we’ve chopped a few veggies and waited for time to pass. In a separate pot bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, salt the water with about 1 Tbsp kosher salt. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt and flour. Mix until smooth. IMG_9451

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On a clean flat cutting board pour 1/3 of the noodle batter onto the cutting board. Use a butter knife to evenly spread the batter across half of the cutting board up to one edge. While holding the cutting board over the pot of boiling water, use the butter knife to shuck (or scrape) small, even amounts of the batter into the water. Have fun with the size of your noodles, tailoring them to the size you like. Cook the noodles in batches, making sure the water continues to boil.

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As the noodles rise to the top they are done cooking and can be transferred to the chicken soup with a slotted spoon or a spider. The noodles cook fast, in about 30 to 60 seconds depending on how large they are. Repeat and continue this process until no batter remains and all of the noodles have made their way into the stock pot full of soup.

IMG_9477Enjoy on a cool winters night with a loaf of crusty bread, such as a rye bread topped with butter.

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Eatsie Boys Evolution – Food Truck to Restaurant

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I have been following the Eatsie Boys since early 2011. Known for their pork snuggies, this one time food truck has made the transition to Full-blown restaurant. Opening the brick and mortar restaurant just last Monday, after a soft open in December. The Eatsie Boys have done what so many food trucks dream of when starting out.

New Sign, So New it Still Has Tape on it

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I love the location in the Montrose area, here in Houston. Located down the street from the University of Saint Thomas and the museum district. I can see a lot of students making their way over after classes. They serve breakfast too, which should also be a great attraction to students. I stopped by after a visit to the children’s museum, just a few miles away.

The interior is very inviting, bright and modern. The kitchen, which is visible from the dining area almost looks like the interior of a food truck. For only being open less than a week the place was packed on Saturday for lunch. At one point there was a line out the door. It shows that the Eatsie Boys have established a name for themselves in the area. While busy, our order was taken promptly and our food delivered quickly to our table. The kitchen seemed experienced, efficiently calling out, cooking and serving orders.

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Kate (My wife) ordered Frank-the-Pretzel, chicken poblano sausage, sautéed onions, mustard, on a pretzel bun…. Interesting, right? The mustard had whole mustard seeds in it giving the dish a great texture. The bun made in the sandwich. Crusty and chewy on the outside, just like a pretzel and soft on the inside like a traditional hotdog bun. Frank’s my new friend, our favorite of the bunch… Lunch.

Frank-the-Pretzel

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I ordered the Maestro sandwich and pork snuggies, I had to try them since hearing so much about them. (Back in 2011 at the food truck festival they were unavailable due to the Eatsieboys generator not working).

When it comes to bread, I am very picky. Growing up in the Boston area I always had access to great bread. The opposite is true here in the south, it’s hard to find good bread. It’s always dry, tasteless and has no chewiness. Bread is the foundation of any good sandwich, so it has to be great. The bread used for both Frank the pretzel and the Maestro were delicious. Definitely some of the best bread I’ve had a sandwich on in all my years in Houston. Good job Eatsie Boys for choosing a premier bakery to provide such an essential ingredient.

The Maestro was made with perfectly cooked roast beef, that was just a little bit rare and very tender. Sitting on a slice of cheddar cheese and topped with horseradish aioli and caramelized onions. The horseradish aoli was nice and spicy. The sandwich was accompanied by a side salad, some mixed greens and a little dressing. The salad was nothing spectacular. Seemed more like an afterthought. The sandwich was very tasty, but I thought it was a little overpriced at $12.

Maestro

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The pork snuggies were good and creative. Pork belly, topped with a cucumber (they call it a quick pickle), green onions, hoisin sauce on a steamed bao bun (typicaly found in Chinese cuisine). I would have liked the pork to be a little more crispy and less chewy, but good overall. A salty snack with the cucumber and green onion adding freshness.

Pork Snuggies

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Eatsie boys Cafe is a nice spot to grab a bite to eat for lunch. The food is fun, creative and very fresh. Way better than what you would expect to find at a chain restaurant. It’s exciting to see a group of young guys start a food truck locally here in Houston and turn it into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. I wish these guys the best of luck and look forward to returning to Eatsie Boys to try their breakfast. In case you are wondering, the food truck still lives on. So if food trucks are more your thing, you can take your pick.

Eatsieboys.com

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Now that’s a Meatball!

I’m always on the lookout for a great meatball, I call it research. Ground beef formed into a ball (the larger the better!) surrounded in marinara sauce and paired with another one of my favorite foods, pasta. I have tried meatballs at dozens of Italian restaurants and unfortunately it’s rare to find a superb meatball. Sal & Anthony’s in Exeter, New Hampshire made the best meatball I have ever eaten at a restaurant. Then they went out of business…

In high school, I dated a girl who’s mother made some pretty fabulous meatballs. If I caught wind the family was having pasta and meatballs for dinner I would do anything I could to get an invite! Her meatballs were different, instead of traditional breadcrumbs she added corn flakes. This was culinary genius, it made the meatballs lighter and less dense. then… the girlfriend and I broke up. A few times I thought about calling the ex’s mom to ask her for the meatball recipe, but I that would have been awkward.

These events were the beginning years of research into the best meatball recipe.

The research continued. I read cookbooks, yes for fun. Many meatball recipes call for two or three different meats. Some call for beef and pork, others call for beef, pork and veal. For “research purposes” my wife and I took part in true science. We conducted a blind taste test that included 9 participants to discover the truth behind the perfect meat combination. We made two meatballs both recipes were identical, except in one we used beef and pork. In the other we used just beef – The winner… Just the beef! I like to use a ground chuck, an 80/20 blend. It’s less expensive than pork and veal and tastes better alone.

What about eggs? All meatball recipes call for eggs, but how many eggs should you add to your meatballs, one, two or more? Through yes, more research I have concluded that it is all about the egg! We are not creating rubbery tough balls of meat that bounce on the floor when dropped. We want delicious, rich, melt in your mouth meatballs. I use four eggs for every one pound of beef. Yes, two pounds of ground beef equals 8 eggs. That is one of the secrets to top notch meatballs, it really helps them to fluff up and melt in your mouth.

So here you have it, after more than 15 years of research and testing I have perfected the meatball. This is the best meatball I have ever tasted. I have also included a heavenly marinara sauce recipe to go along with the meatballs. A good meatball is nothing without good sauce. I would love to hear your comments and feedback once you make them for yourself. If you have a great meatball recipe, I would love to try it!

This is a really fun meal to prepare and share with a large group. As you can see this recipe will feed a small army making  8 – 10 portions. If you don’t have a small army to feed, feel free to freeze half for a later date. It will last a month or two in a freezer if stored in freezer safe zip lock storage bags.

Makes 16 Large Meatballs – Tennis ball size
The Meatball –

2 lbs Hamburg – Chuck 80/20
½ Cup Pecerino Romano Cheese – Plus more for serving
3 Cloves of Garlic – chopped very fine (in a food processor if you have one)
½ of a Large Yellow Onion – chopped very fine (in a food processor if you have one)
½ Teaspoon of Nutmeg (Fresh is best!)
¾ Cup of Crushed Corn Flakes
½ Cup of Italian Bread Crumbs
8 Large Eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine the Pecerino Ramano, the garlic, yellow onion, corn flakes, Italian breadcrumbs and nutmeg. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and then combine with the the other mixture of ingredients. Mix well and then add the hamburg and mix with your hands until all of the ingredients are fully combined. Let the mixture sit for five minutes and then mix one last time before forming meatballs. This will allow time for the egg to be fully absorbed. I like very large meatballs, about the size of tennis balls. If you make smaller meatballs you will need to adjust the cooking time. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray. Form the meatballs and place them on the sheet pan. place in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until they are firm and not soft. Let the meatballs sit for five minutes and then add them to the marinara sauce making sure to scrape all of the juices into the pot.

The Marinara Sauce –

2 28oz Cans of Tomatoes (San Marzano Tomatoes are best)
2 15oz cans of Tomato Sauce (I like Hunts sauce)
2 6oz Cans of Tomato Paste (Again I like Hunts)
2 Large Yellow Onions – chopped very fine (in a food processor if you have one)
6 Cloves of Garlic – chopped very fine (in a food processor if you have one)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons of Dried Oregano
Salt & Pepper

Add olive oil to a large thick bottomed pan and heat over medium. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Do not let the garlic darken or turn brown. Add the oregano to the pan and a pinch of salt & pepper, stir. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Simmer on low heat for 25 – 30 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt & pepper. I like this sauce very smooth and blend it with an immersible blender. If you don’t have one or would prefer the sauce more chunky, use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes. Make sure to blend or crush the tomatoes before adding the meatballs. After you add your meatball continue to simmer for about an hour before serving. I prefer to serve this dish with Rigatoni. I find it stands up well to the large meatballs and sauce. Spaghetti would be great too. So good!


San Marzano Marinara Sauce

Grown in the volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius, the San Marzano Tomatoes are similar to fine dark chocolate, they are rich in flavor, more expensive and high quality. Legend has it, that the San Marzano tomato came to Campania, Italy in 1770 as a gift from Peru. These tomatoes are sweeter and less acidic than other tomatoes, making them perfect for a simple marinara sauce.

Americans love to add ingredients on top of ingredients. Italian cooking is all about simplicity and showcasing one or two ingredients. When it comes to marinara sauce there is no better ingredient to showcase than the San Marzano tomato. The price of these tomatoes are about $5 for a large 28oz can compared to $2 for a large 28oz can of plum tomatoes. The extra $3 is well worth it and won’t break the bank. Good cooking starts with great ingredients. Brands available in supermarkets include Cento, Nina, La Bella, Solinia, Vantia, and Strianese. If you can’t get San Marzano tomatoes don’t bother making this sauce, it just won’t be the same.

Serves 4

Ingredients –

1 28oz Can of San Marzano Tomatoes
1 15oz Can of Hunts Tomato Sauce
1/2 of a Medium sized Yellow Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
Fresh Basil
Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper
2 Table Spoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Table Spoon Butter
1lbs Pasta – spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine

Heat a 4qt sauce pan and add the olive oil and butter. Rough chop the onion and add to a food processor. Chop the onion until very fine but not pureed. Add the onion to the hot oil and butter. Add the garlic to the food processor and chop very fine. Once the onion becomes translucent add the garlic to the pan with the onion, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until the garlic softens. Don’t let the garlic darken.

Add the San Marzano Tomatoes, the Tomato sauce and stir. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes. Use a potato masher to crush the San Marzano tomatoes, until the sauce is smooth with no large chunks. Simmer the sauce for an additional 20 – 30 minutes and remove from heat. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add several large basil leaves torn or Julienned.

I prefer to serve this sauce over spaghetti, linguini or fettuccine. Homemade pasta or fresh pasta, such as Buitoni is great too! Cook your pasta according to the package and drain. Promptly after draining add your pasta to the sauce and toss until the pasta is fully coated. Plate the pasta and shred 1 – 2 tbs of parmesan cheese over the pasta and top with fresh basil. Enjoy!