Our family is scattered relatively evenly throughout the country in a variety of fun destinations. Except San Diego. We have family in Florida, Las Vegas, North Carolina, Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Vermont, and New York. We keep lobbying for someone to relocate to San Diego, which would complete all the vacation spots we really need. Truthfully, we have waived our strict blood relative requirement. You simply have to live in San Diego, be willing to hang with us (or not), and provide sleeping quarters for anywhere from three to five days, say once every two or three years. Come on... we're fun. Takers? Anyone?
It's hard to say when our Soup and Bread Sunday tradition started. I believe it was inspired by the the most relaxing Christmas ever, which was about six years ago. While a lot of couples/families are run ragged as they scurry from house to house on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we were blessed with absolutely no plans. D2 was spending Christmas with his mom, and no other family members were within a three-hour drive. HotDog and I decided we would like nothing better than to make a pot of homemade soup, broil some buttered ciabatta, and watch movies in our PJs all day. In a world of crammed calendars full of appointments and obligations, that day was a tremendous gift in itself.
We could not risk never experiencing the magic of our Soup and Bread Christmas again, so we parlayed it into Soup and Bread Sundays. As soon as the weather starts to cool and our Steelers start pre-season play, we are hankerin' for our soup and bread home opener. Every week with the exceptions of a bye-week or Monday or Thursday night game, we assemble around the television before kick-off with our bowls and blankets, like black-and-gold bedecked bears filling our bellies for hybernation. However, we don't hybernate; we cheer and yell and high-five and jump up and down. Well, maybe a catnap at half-time...
Soup's on! Meet our franchise player.
Kimmers' Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
1 whole fully-cooked grocery store rotisserie chicken
3 medium onions
4 Tablespoons butter
1 pound carrots
1 celery stalk or package of two celery hearts
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2-48 ounce cans of chicken broth
double batch of Grandma's Homemade Noodles
This recipe cooks as you go. For those of you who like to prep, consider setting out all your ingredients as prepping mission completed. Ta-da!
Take your beautiful rotisserie chicken and pull all the meat off the bones and skin, placing every scrap of that tender meat in a bowl. Don't worry about tearing it into bite-size pieces; we'll get to that later. Set these succulent chicken chunks aside.
Place a large soup pot on low-medium heat and begin melting the butter. As it slowly melts, chop the onions. Place them in the melted butter and let them saute. Wash the celery and cut it into slices; add to the onion and stir. Peel the carrots and slice them into coins.
Add them to the onions and celery, stirring here and there as they saute, too. Sprinkle on the thyme, add the bay leaves, and give it a good stir, keeping all the veggies evenly coated with the butter.
Like all herbs, fresh oregano is always better than dried. Luckily, I had some on hand, so I de-leafed a few sprigs and placed the leaves in a prep bowl. Then I took my kitchen shears and chopped the oregano into tiny pieces. This photo was supposed to focus on the oregano and not the stonehenge of carrot tops in the background, but you get the idea. Add the oregano to the pot of goodies and, of course, stir it in.
Then do the same chopping technique to the chicken in its bowl. Much easier than standing and tearing it into bits, eh?
Guess what. Yep, add the chopped chicken to the pot and stir some more. This recipe is really an exercise in stirring. Feel the burn!
By this time, especially if you are a slowpoke peeler and chopper like me, the onions are translucent; the carrots are softening but still firm. Add the broth, salt, and pepper and increase the heat to medium-high, bringing the soup to a slight boil. Stir in the dried or almost-dried double batch of Grandma's Homemade Noodles to the soup and continue to cook at a slow boil.
While the noodles are soaking up all the scrumptious flavors of your soup while they bloat to homestyle delight, start preparing your ciabatta. No matter what soup we make, HotDog's broiled buttered ciabatta is a constant. With great care and a wonderful bread knife, saw your ciabatta into slices about 3/4" thick. Slather on a little butter and place buttered side up on a baking sheet.
After the noodles have cooked for about 15-20 minutes, start taste-testing them for doneness when no one is looking. Your house will smell heavenly, so whoever sees you will want to sample, too. When the noodles are just about the right degree of softness/firmness, put your ciabatta about 4-5" below the broiler flame in your oven. They usually take about 5 minutes to develop a nice shade of golden brown. Keep an eye on them, though, and remove when they look like they could take the blue ribbon in a toast-making contest.
Love when a meal comes together like this!
As I took these last photos in the kitchen, HotDog and D2 were already cozied up to the tv in the living room. HotDog yells out, "I hope you wrote down what you did!" Knowing it was headed for the blog, I responded, "It's a Keeper, isn't it?" He heartily agreed.
Then as I'm enjoying my soup, D2 goes for Round Two. I laughed but was secretly tickled on the inside when I saw his heaped-up bowl.
This recipe makes about eight generous bowls of soup - plenty for seconds and delicious leftovers!
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