I loved all your responses about secret recipes and tapioca. Which I am totally craving though it's not even 6:30 in the morning!
So, without further ado and without any real measurements...
Joanne's Chicken Noodle Soup
Onion, carrot, and celery (the trifecta of soups)
Garlic (I use lots)
Salt and pepper
HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK!!
(Toben told me I needed to come back and put this in huge red, flashing letters. "There's no point in even trying if you don't use homemade stock," he said. "It will only be as good as the stock they use!" I don't know how to make the words flash, but there's the red and a couple of exclamation points for good measure.)
Flour, oil, water, salt, pepper, herbs
1. Chop onions, carrots, and celery. Cook in heavy pot in olive oil until browning. Add chopped garlic and salt and pepper, lemon pepper, and Italian seasoning toward the end. Sprinkle a little bit of flour over the cooked mixture. This will thicken your broth some.
2. Next, add homemade chicken stock. Sorry, canned stock won't cut it--your soup will not be nearly as flavorful. Homemade stock is easy to make. See here.
3. Bring to a boil. Add chicken. I put the chicken in frozen and let it cook in the soup. Put the lid on, reduce the heat, and let it simmer. When the chicken is done, remove and cut into bite-sized pieces and return to the pot.
I usually do up to this part in the early afternoon and let it simmer for a couple of hours. Or even just turn off the heat and leave the lid on. It makes the house smell really, really good. Especially if you put an apple pie in the oven in the meantime.
4. Next add an entire bottle of white wine. I use plain old cooking wine. This is what did it last weekend--the secret ingredient that made all the difference. It makes the broth so rich and round and wonderful. Bring it back to a boil, which removes all the alcohol so you don't get your kids drunk on chicken soup.
5. While that's cooking, make your noodles. Put flour in a bowl and add salt and pepper and some more Italian seasoning. Mix in some olive oil, stirring with a fork. Then add water until you reach a doughy consistency. Now you can chose a few options.
You can roll out the dough (pretty thin--it will poof when it cooks!) and cut out shapes with small cookie cutters. We like stars and pumpkins and circles and flowers. This is the girls' favorite part of making chicken noodle soup.
You can roll out the dough and cut long strips--either thin or thick. Long or short.
You can just chop the dough into little bits with a knife.
6. Then add the noodles in whatever form you've chosen to the boiling pot. Be sure to add them a few at a time so they don't stick together. Let them cook for 10-15 minutes or so.
7. Add a handful of whatever fresh herbs you have growing. This is going to be a problem come winter! This past weekend, I used parsley, basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, and thyme--chopped up altogether. Throw it all in the pot and give it a last stir.
That's it! Serve with yummy, crusty hot bread to dip into your bowl of delicious, cold-fighting, super-power giving chicken soup.