Summer Comfort: Bright and Cheery Chicken Noodle Soup

* Editorial note: This post is one of Jennie’s recipes, but not her response to the Southern Food Makeover Challenge.  Look for both challenge responses to be posted in the next few days!

Comfort food?  Yes sir, my favorite!  Rich and creamy?  Nine months of the year, you can sign me right up.  But what about the summer?  Somehow I just can’t enjoy meat loaf, mac and cheese, and chili when the mercury is topping 90…Okay, okay, I can still enjoy it, but not the way I do when the temp is hovering closer to a freeze than a simmer.  Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that there are those days, even in the middle of summer .   It’s drab and rainy; the kids are ultra sassy; nothing you do makes the boss happy.  You need comfort food….NOW!  Please?

I say that’s just fine.  Food can be light, bright, summery AND comforting.  Here’s the chicken noodle soup to prove it…

Bright and Cheery Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

-2 tbsp  of olive oil

-1 small yellow onion

-3 medium carrots, sliced into thin rounds

-2 inches of ginger root, very finely grated

-2 celery sticks, diced

-2 tsp of kosher salt

-3 tsp of garlic powder

-1 tbsp of cumin

-8 cups of chicken broth

-3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

-2 cups of egg noodles

-1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves finely chopped

-the juice of two lemons

-1 tsp of Louisiana Hot Sauce

Method:

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or another favorite soup pot.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, and ginger plus 1 tsp. of the kosher salt, 2 tsp. of the garlic powder, and 3 tsp. of the cumin.  Cook this mixture, stirring frequently until the onion becomes limp and translucent.  Next, add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil (you may have to raise the heat to medium high).  Once the pot is boiling, add your chicken thighs – I like to season them lightly with a little extra salt, garlic, and cumin just to keep the flavors in balance.  Boil the chicken for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the egg noodles and let it all boil for about 6 more minutes.  Now turn off the stove, remove your pot from the heat, and remove the chicken.  Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and put it back in the pot.  Add the chopped cilantro, the lemon juice, and the hot sauce.  Finish it with 1 tsp. of kosher salt, 1 tsp. of garlic powder, and 1 tsp. cumin.  Allow the soup to cool slightly (for about 10-15 minutes) before serving.   Once the soup has cooled, sit back and relax with a bowl of summer  comfort.

In case you were wondering:

-Isn’t fresh ginger a lot of trouble?  Kind of…but it’s totally worth it and there’s no real substitute.  Try to choose a ginger root that has some relatively straight segments.  It’ll be a lot easier to section, peel, and grate.  I like to grate mine with a microplane.  If you don’t have one, they’re relatively inexpensive and really useful.

-Why do you keep seasoning the soup?  I like to season my food at multiple points during the cooking process, and I write my recipes to reflect that.  I add spices at the beginning so that the other ingredients “steep” in the flavors, so to speak.  The problem is that some spices lose potency after a long period of cooking.   Adding a little more at the end      wakes up the flavor.

-Soup in the summer?  Seriously?  I LOVE soup  any time of the year.  All three of my kids can tell you that soup is my favorite meal, and  I really do think that summer is the perfect time to make it.  The veggies are so fresh and tempting and there is so much variety that the possibilities are  literally endless.  You can really get creative with your soup during    the summer.  Now that’s what I call a good time!!!

Fresh carrots just begging to be added to your soup!

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