Monday, October 3, 2011

A Bowl of Warmth

Crisp mornings. Chill winds cooling the evening from the sun's attempt to make summer endless. Little brown leaves dancing across the blacktop, taunting children to come and play. The smell of cloves and nutmeg, and a bright red dutch oven. Hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls. All these things speak of fall. Gathering friends and family, sharing treats or dinner. Another thing that signals the arrival of fall is my mom's annual Holiday Boutique.
Since I was a small girl my parents attended these shows with religious fervor. My dad made armoires and toy chests, buffets, pie safes, and kitchen hutches. My mom made a large assortment of wooden ornaments, door crowns, garden stakes and stuffed dolls. Angels, snowmen, santa claus', and nativity scenes were just a few of the themes.
Whenever I see poster board with 'craft show' scrawled in black marker, I feel drawn. I want to stop in and just see what they have. Of course, in my mind, none can compare to my mom's, which she has taken to doing in her home. Hot cider and coffee are plenteous, along with samples of her homemade toffee and fudge. Christmas music underlying every conversation and fresh loaves of pumpkin, banana, and zucchini bread popping out of the oven every few minutes. I just can't wait.

A word about this recipe. Put this on the stove on a Sunday afternoon, relax, and let the stove do the work. If you don't want to make the noddles, just add in pasta of your choice at the end of the cooking time. You can halve the recipe for soup, but you will have a lot of noodles. I am ok with that. Feel free to add what you like. I have often made soup like this with chopped green beans, mushrooms, peas, and anything else I feel like throwing in. You can use pearl barely instead of noodles, but these noodles are a cinch, and if you have never made them at home you are missing out!

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Herb Noodles
For the Noodles
2 cups flour
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons chopped herbs (chives, tarragon, parsley, thyme)
 Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl until a soft dough forms. Roll out on a counter or pie mat until about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into four equal parts. Slice dough into strips of desired width. Set aside.

For the soup
2 Tablespoon fat, such as bacon grease
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup white wine (or additional chicken stock)
8 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred)
2 slices bacon, chopped
6 cloves roasted garlic
4 Tablespoons chopped herbs (chives, tarragon, parsley, thyme)
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheddar cheese for serving

Place bacon grease (or oil) in the bottom of a medium pot. Heat over medium and add carrots, celery, onions, salt, and pepper.
Saute for about 8 minutes, until pan begins to look dry. Add 1/2 cup wine or chicken stock, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes more. When vegetables are soft, add 4 cups chicken stock and chopped bacon. Simmer for 45 minutes.
Add noodles, and cook for 25 minutes more. Add roasted garlic and chopped herbs, stirring to combine, along with salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with grated cheddar.

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