Armed with my new slow cooker, I thought I was prepared. The day before the retreat, I made a huge pot of soup on the stove, which I would transfer to the slow-cooker later. Thankfully, I had a container of cooked, diced chicken in the freezer. I had purchased three 4-quart cartons of chicken broth, a pound of carrots, and a stalk of celery at the grocery store. However, I wasn’t able to locate fine egg noodles, so I bought medium egg noodles. (My first mistake.)
After cutting the carrots and celery into tiny cubes, I cooked them in the chicken broth, added the noodles and finally, the chicken. My husband and I ate the soup for supper that night to make sure it was good. While the soup was flavorful, the medium noodles were hard to keep on my spoon long enough to get them into my mouth. The noodles slipped right off my spoon. Oh, well. Nothing I could do to change that.
After storing the soup in the refrigerator that night, the noodles had absorbed all the chicken broth and all that was left was a huge pot of noodles. No problem, I thought, packing a cup measure, chicken soup base, and a large spoon. I poured the huge pot of soup (really just noodles) into the slower cooker just before leaving and placed it in a large cooler with ice packs.
My old slow cooker was extremely slow in heating up, but I was sure this new slow cooker would heat up very quickly. (My second mistake.) So, I decided to wait until 10 am to turn it on, adding water and soup base for the right consistency. I checked on it at 11 am, but it wasn’t warming quickly enough. Luckily, the men in charge of helping with the food heated up the soup (in the removable bowl) in the microwave.
The woman sitting next to me said the soup was “good,” and didn’t even mention that she couldn’t keep the noodles on her spoon. The soup could have been hotter, would have been better with fine egg noodles, and I vowed not to make these same mistakes next time.
Tip for bringing chicken noodle soup to an event in a slow cooker:
• Cook chicken noodle soup the day before the event
• Cook the soup on the stove, store in the fridge overnight, and transfer to the slow cooker
• Don’t worry if the noodles absorb all the broth
• The day of the event, allow several hours to heat it to simmering
• Right before heating it up, add soup base and water until soupy
• Stir after 1 hour
• To keep heat in, don’t open the lid often
• Check occasionally without opening lid—if boiling, turn down to low
Following is a recipe for homemade chicken broth. For an easy variation, subsitute 1 cup cooked diced chicken and a 32-oz. carton chicken broth.
Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup
1 (4 - 5 pound) broiler-fryer chicken
2 ribs celery
6 oz. fine egg noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken soup base 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
OR 1 teaspoon dried parsley
Place chicken and giblets in large pot. Fill with water just to cover. Trim ends and remove skin from onion. Pare, rinse, and cut 1 carrot into large pieces. Rinse, trim and cut 1 rib celery into large pieces. Add onion, carrot, and celery to pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes/pound of chicken, or 60 to 75 minutes.
Remove chicken and vegetables from pot; let cool until able to handle. Discard cooked vegetables—they helped to flavor the broth. Remove chicken from bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. You should have about 4 cups chicken; refrigerate. Discard bones. Pare, rinse, and trim ends of remaining carrot; cut in half crosswise. To prevent carrot from rolling, cut a flat edge, lengthwise. Cut carrot lengthwise into slices. Then cut slices lengthwise into sticks; cut crosswise to dice. Rinse and trim ends and leaves of remaining rib of celery; cut in half crosswise. Cut lengthwise into sticks, then crosswise to dice.
Skim fat from broth using a ladle; discard fat. Add diced vegetables. Bring broth to a boil. Cover, turn down heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add noodles and simmer for 5 minutes uncovered or according to package directions. Add 1 cup of diced chicken; reserve the remaining chicken for other recipes. Taste broth. Add soup base, salt, and pepper to taste.
For fresh parsley, place a small bunch in a colander and rinse under cold water. Rub the parsley with your fingers to remove dirt. Shake off excess water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Hold the parsley in a bunch and cut the leaves from the stems. Discard stems. Place leaves in a bowl and snip with kitchen shears or use a knife to chop on a cutting board. Add parsley to soup. Good served with crackers, sliced Cheddar cheese, and apple slices. Yield: 4 servings