Sometimes basic can be beautiful. While a rich, elaborate meal has its place, there are times when a simple bowl of soup alone will do. When that time comes, this week’s Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup is sure to fit the bill.
That time came for me this week, when I was thinking about what to bring a sick friend for dinner.
Everyone knows chicken noodle soup, aka, penicillin in a bowl, can cure almost anything that ails you, so it seemed like the perfect choice for someone who needs a little healing energy in their life.
As the mother of three and co-author of an entire cookbook devoted exclusively to soup, it’s no surprise that I’ve made a lot of chicken noodle soup over the years.
Whether I’m making it for a sick child or friend or just have a few minutes to pull something together for dinner, it never disappoints, especially because it can be morphed to fit almost any mood or craving. Looking for something spicy? Add a couple of sliced hot chiles. Not feeling up for noodles? Use rice instead. Got a hankering for vegetable soup? Hunt through the vegetable bin and add whatever you have on hand.
Recently, as the weather turned to whatever the term is that’s in between brisk and frigid, I wanted something creamy, but not heavy. So I pulled out the Dutch oven and started this version of the world’s most iconic soup the same way almost all soups are started, by sautéing onions in butter. The flavor builds with the addition of fresh thyme and just a hint of garlic.
Flour is stirred in and cooked a bit to make a roux. While a brothy soup wouldn’t necessarily need a roux, which serves as a thickener, this creamy version benefits from it.
Creamy soups are often thickened with roux, and that can be good, but the adage “if a little is good, a lot is better” doesn’t apply in this case. Too much roux can make a soup overly thick and gloppy. Because I want this one to straddle the line between brothy and creamy, I add just enough flour to give it a touch of body, while keeping the consistency light.
Broth, carrots and noodles are added and simmered just long enough to cook the veggies and pasta and allow the flavors to marry, before stirring in the shredded chicken and a splash of cream.
Just before serving, I add a little lemon juice, as it heightens and brightens all the flavors in the pot.
In the end, this basic soup was everything I needed it to be — creamy, hearty, brothy, light — somehow it hits all these notes at the same time. There’s a taste of simple perfection in every spoonful.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.