Made With Love

This past week, My Kid asked for our homemade chicken noodle soup recipe to add to the recipe notebook that I made for him when he moved into his own apartment.  And it surprised me that it hadn’t even occurred to me to include this recipe, because this is The Recipe in my life.  The recipe has never touched the page because it is something that I take with me everywhere I go.  My mom’s chicken noodle soup with homemade egg noodles has always been my favorite food.

My Mom's chicken noodle soup recipe

In my early memories, I remember looking up under my Mom’s pullout wood cutting board, with flour dusting around me like snow on the avocado green and yellow linoleum as she would hand me a noodle to unfold.  She would smile down at me and gently chide me if I started to eat too many of them.  Every winter, I stood at a different height against the ruler of her cutting board. I remember the first time that she pressed the worn nub of her paring knife in my hand and taught me how to cut the dough rolled up tight like a sleeping bag into strips that unfolded into the ribbons of pasta noodles.  By that time, the short stubby end noodles were the agreed upon samples and I would happily stuff them into my mouth enjoying the doughy texture, while she just shook her head at me, looking vaguely repulsed. 

When I turned five, my Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner at my party and I asked for her homemade chicken noodle soup. And on that 100+ degree August afternoon, she made a massive batch of soup with sweat trickling down her flushed face as our extended family took turns standing in the wading pool to cool off. And I knew with no doubt that she loved me.

Over the years, her smile faded into the firm concrete of deep depression and she grew remote and hollow.  Her words would fall like brittle shards of glass around me and I would look forward to the chicken noodle soup that would bring us together, side by side in front of her cutting board with a dull nub of a knife and flour sifting down between us.  The year came that she no longer craved or desired her chicken noodle soup.  Years whooshed past and then I met a man and fell deeply in love with him and his five-year-old son.

We married.  And that first winter, I introduced My new Kid to homemade chicken noodle soup on a cold rainy afternoon.  We laughed and unfolded noodles together and I let him stand on a chair to drop the noodles into the pot while I stirred, with flour surrounding us on the gray linoleum floor.  And then we slurped and giggled our way through our bowls of soup.  Chicken noodle soup became ours: our thing. 

Year after year, he stood taller besides the cutting board going through his various phases of yellow rubber boots, jack-a-lantern smile, and endlessly humming jazz riffs.  And no matter what was going on, even if we were mid disagreement, we would come together over a cutting board and make our soup.  With time, our recipe evolved and only the noodles stayed the same; far too wide and fluffy for My Pirate, but just right for us.

Our chicken noodle soup recipe

So, this weekend, in answer to My Kid’s request, I decided to write down the two chicken noodle soup recipes that reside in my mind and heart.  I started with my Mom’s simple recipe and remembered her smile and the shower of flour around me.  I’m so happy to have that piece of her still with me before the frigid chasm grew between us.  And then I made our version of the soup and remembered My Kid growing up beside the kitchen cutting board with me, chattering about life and giggling.  And now he’s grown and has his own career and life.  He’s the age that I was when his Dad proposed to me and he answered, “Yes, she says yes!” And when I see him tomorrow for our weekly family dinner, I’m going to hand him our recipe that shaped our life together.

Our Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Noodles
By Laura and Eben Heldreth

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
½ onion, fine dice
Heart of the celery, including leaves, diced or two stalks, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 gallon of homemade chicken stock or high quality store bought stock
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Kosher salt
1 pinch of red cayenne powder
2 oven roasted chicken breasts, cut into cubes 
5 drops of lemon juice

2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 large eggs

Add the oil and butter to the soup pot over medium heat.  Sweat carrots, onion, celery, and garlic with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt for 8 to 10 minutes.   Add chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then drop to a simmer.  Cook for thirty minutes.

Make the noodles.
Combine the salt and flour in a bowl with a whisk. Make a well in the center of the flour.  Break eggs into a colored bowl and look for eggshell bits.  Put eggs into the flour well.  Stir together with a spoon or your hand.  Stir until it becomes a sticky dough.  Place dough on a lightly floured cutting board or counter.  Knead the dough adding flour as you go until the dough becomes smooth and dense.  Then let it rest for 15 minutes.

Cut your dough into four sections.  Roll them into balls and sit aside.  Roll out one ball of the dough at a time with a rolling pin using flour as needed.  Roll it out as thin as you can comfortably get it.  Add a little flour to the round and roll it up like a sleeping bag.  Then cut into slices, ¼ inch wide for company or ¾ inch wide for the big fluffy noodles.  Unroll the noodles and put them onto a plate or another cutting board.  Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.

Bring your soup back to a full boil and start dropping noodles into the soup pot, a few at a time, and stirring them to keep them from sticking together. Add all the noodles, add parsley and cubed chicken meat in, stir, and cook for 15 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Stir in the five drops of lemon juice. Serve.