Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chicken Corn Noodle Soup!

Do you remember the hardback book in the teeny tiny little Nutshell Library (published the year I was born in 1962) called Chicken Soup With Rice? I was never a big Where the Wild Things Are fan, although I liked the movie (the illustrations were too freaky and the plot too scary a concept for me as a young child–that book came out the following year in 1963) but I always treasured this little lesser known collection of four books illustrated by Sendak.

The small illustrated cardboard box in itself was a tiny treasure to behold (and hold in little hands) and, as with all of Sendak's illustrations, I would spend much time looking at them before I could even read (Sendak also illustrated a few of the books in the Mrs. PiggleWiggle series by Betty MacDonald). I'm sure I got it in a Christmas stocking from one of my first Christmases–I even have a vague memory of opening it–and I am fairly certain I'd kept the books all these years and I expect, one day, to find them again in their little "Nutshell" box. [But hark, a voice from yonder Amazon says, "Still in print!" So this year my boys and their cousins will get a set, too, under their Christmas trees.]

The Nutshell Library also has the story of Pierre, who didn't care–and yet he always seemed a perfectly delightful boy to this precocious young girl.

The month of February in Chicken Soup With Rice.

Its full title is actually Chicken Soup With Rice: A Book of Months (I had forgotten the subtitle) and it takes a journey through the year of a boy having chicken soup in every month and season. Through the wonders of the Internet I even just discovered that there was a musical based on the Nutshell Library called Really Rosie, that came out in 1975, and an animated program, with music by Carole King. Sorry to have missed that one, but then again, I was 13 by that time and probably considered myself "too mature" for children's picture books.

So anyway, all of this memory lane of children's books is just preamble to what we had for supper. I've been wanting to make a popular Mennonite (and Amish) recipe for "Chicken Corn Noodle Soup" for the longest time, especially now that we have all of that corn and our own chickens in the freezer. My friends Anna and Irene have often raved about it to me and I've since found variations of the recipe in several community cookbooks. You could add just about anything you want to the recipe but the beauty of it is in its simplicity–and the combination of corn, chicken and hearty egg noodles is what you will remember. I also like that you cook the chicken in the soup pot while making the broth, rather than boil the bones from a roast later on.

This recipe for "Chicken Corn Soup" was adapted from a recipe found in a nifty little devotional book I picked up a few weeks ago at our local used bookshop, the Book & CD Hut, in Somerset. I read all kinds of books but I'm a sucker for little devotionals–this book is called The Simple Life–Devotional Thoughts from Amish Country by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour Publishing, Ohio: 2006 and still available here. What's especially nice about it are the recipes from her friends that follow each reading.

Chicken Corn Soup
[Mattie Stoltzfus]

• 1 large chicken (make sure to remove guts, etc.)
• 2 1/2 quarts water
• 4 cups corn
• 1 package egg noodles (I used a 1# bag of "Amish Wedding" Kluski noodles)
• salt and pepper to taste

[NOTE: I also added a few tablespoons of Watkins Chicken Soup & Gravy Base to the stock (no MSG!), as well as a few tablespoons of fresh chopped garlic, 1 medium chopped onion and 1 cup of thinly sliced carrots to the stock pot–all sautéed with a good healthy portion of fresh chopped parsley. I also add sweet paprika and a bit of marjoram to taste–as I never measure seasonings.]

1. In a large kettle, boil the chicken in the water. [NOTE: I added some sea salt and several dried bay leaves to the water, as well as some fresh-ground pepper.]

2. When cooked thoroughly, remove the chicken, reserving the broth. Cool and remove the meat from the bone and cut it into small pieces. [NOTE: At this point I returned the bones back to the broth and boiled again for about 20 minutes before straining–I also added a bit more water to this process. This re-stocking, so to speak, will make a heartier broth. Meanwhile, in a larger stock pot, I sautéed the onion, garlic, carrot and parsley in a bit of olive oil.]

3. Strain the broth, put into larger stock pot [with above additions, if desired] then add corn, noodles, chicken, and seasonings to taste.

4. Cook (about 15 minutes) until noodles are soft. The amount of noodles added can be adjusted according to the thickness desired. The amount of corn and water can also be adjusted.

The nice thing about using a free-range chicken, especially your own, is that the flavor is out of this world and there is minimal fat in the broth.

We had hearty portions of the soup for supper tonight and there is still plenty left over to freeze and for lunch tomorrow. I have another "Chicken Corn Soup" recipe "for a crowd" but I'll save it for another day: it makes four times this amount of soup that this recipe makes and plenty to serve, can or freeze. And perfect for the flu and cold season ahead. Next time, we all agreed: more GARLIC! "Happy once, happy twice, happy chicken soup with rice."


DellaRae said...

Thanks for the memory of the book and the wonderful recipe. I think I might try it tomorrow.

Suze said...

I don't know the book but I may just try this recipe. I love chicken soup and mine is always a disappointment. Thank you.

Sarah said...

My copy of this sweet little set of books is sitting on Lou's shelf. I love the Chicken Soup with Rice book.

Wanda E. Brunstetter said...

There are lots more delicious Amish and Mennonite recipes in my Simple Life devotional book. I also have two Amish cookbooks, each with two hundred delicious recipes in them. The titles of the books are: Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Cookbook; and Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Cookbook, Vol. 2. You can see the covers of the books on the nonfiction page of my website:

The Hen Pantry said...

Your Chicken Corn Noodle Soup post was sooo good and thank you for the recipe for the soup. I'm taking one of our chickens out of the freezer as soon as I finish here. Yum!

I'm going to look up the children's book too.