“And Tom brought him chicken soup until he wanted to kill him. The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Hello and welcome to Bad Vegetarian! If you have any questions about what exactly a bad vegetarian is, jump on over to the about page. If you have any questions about chicken noodle soup, I am really not the person to be answering them, but read on anyway!
Just a quick backstory, I planned on making a different meal for my first post, but then a horrible virus struck down everyone in my home, and, upon recovering, I decided chicken noodle soup might be a more suitable meal to try out this week.
I used a Barefoot Contessa recipe; I’ve used her recipes before for baking (which I can actually do), and she hasn’t steered me wrong yet. Also, the recipe looked pretty easy which is what I’m going for at this stage. The recipe calls for a homemade chicken stock, but that recipe called for three chickens, overnight chilling, and fat skimming. So I bought chicken and vegetable stocks instead. My mother always says that some things are more trouble than they’re worth to make from scratch–her example is always a cannoli, my example will henceforth be stock.
I asked my mom how long this recipe should take (in addition to countless other questions I yelled out to her throughout the ordeal). “For you? An hour.” If you’re able to have more than one thing going at once, you can probably do this in under an hour; the chicken takes about 40 minutes to cook, but the broth, vegetables, and noodles could cook simultaneously to cut down time. It took me two hours. Shopping for the groceries actually took an embarrassing amount of time too.
First things first, I had to get the chicken in the oven. Per my mother’s instructions, I washed it in cold water. It was pretty gross–not necessarily in a vegetarian touching meat way, just in a handling raw chicken way. It was slimy and cold, and I had to keep the skin on, but it kept trying to slide off. I sprinkled some olive oil, salt, and pepper on the chicken and rubbed it all over. Then, I washed and washed and washed my hands. Between the oil and the raw chicken, I felt like I couldn’t get my hands clean. The chicken went into to the oven to roast, and I crossed my fingers that it would come out like it was supposed to.
For my vegetarian soup, I used vegetable stock and seitan, a wheat-based meat-alternative. The packaging said it was “chicken-style” so I figured it would work. I treated it the same as the chicken, adding olive oil and salt and pepper, but I only put it in the oven for ten minutes.
I chopped the carrots, celery, and parsley as evenly as I could–my knife skills definitely need some work, and I divided them in halves. I put my pots of stocks on the stove and started heating them up. Once the broths began to simmer, I added the carrots, celery, and noodles and waited. The only real issue I had with this recipe was the cook time for this part. The stock, vegetables, and noodles were supposed to simmer for ten minutes and be ready to go, but my carrots and celery were still hard after that time. It took 20 minutes before they were the right consistency, but that may have been because I cut them too large.
I took the chicken out of the oven, and it looked like chicken that had been cooked by someone who knew how to cook chicken. I pulled the chicken apart, not letting it cool long enough to prevent burning my fingers, and my dad ate a piece and said it tasted like chicken! Sadie ate a piece too and seemed to like it, but she’s been eating the same dog food for every meal of her doggie life so her culinary critiques are not to be trusted.
The cooked seitan kind of looked like chicken, but it tasted like nothing especially pleasant. I don’t think it’s meant to be eaten plain like that.
Once I added the chicken and the seitan to their respective pots, the soups looked like real soup! I was so excited, I texted a friend to say, “LOOK WHAT I MADE! THERE’S CHICKEN IN ONE OF THOSE, AND I MADE THAT TOO!!!!” After, the soups cooked for a few more minutes, all that was left was to add seasoning. I used unsalted stock for the soups because you can always add salt to a recipe, but if you start with a salty stock there’s nothing you can do to change that. Also, my dad isn’t supposed to have too much salt, and I was trying not to kill him. I added a bunch of salt to mine, which had been tasting like a whole lot of nothing before being seasoned, and added an eyeballed teaspoon of to the other pot. Both pots got a few twists from the pepper mill and parsley, and they were ready to taste. Here it would have been helpful to be able to taste both soups, but I could only taste mine (which was adequately seasoned). I enlisted my mom as a taster of the other pot, and she gave it the okay.
Soups were poured into bowls, and it was time to eat the finished product.
My soup was darker because of the vegetable stock and generally did not taste like my memories of chicken noodle soup. It did, however, taste good, and everything seemed properly cooked. The real chicken noodle soup also went over well. No one got sick (I’m setting the bar low for what constitutes a successful cooking experience), and everyone had second helpings. My mom did add a bit more salt, but she’s the one who tasted it and said the salt content was okay in the first place. She also said that it was just what the doctor ordered.
All in all, a successful first time making chicken noodle soup and seitan noodle soup. I’m feeling confident for my next recipe.
Have you ever made a soup from scratch? Leave a comment below describing how it went for you!