A fresh take on your classic chicken noodle soup recipe, this one uses acini di pepe pasta, leeks, radishes, and a healthy assortment of rainbow carrots.
For the past week I’ve watched as leaves in shades of gold and crimson drift towards the ground. I stood under my neighbor’s towering maple as my kids walked down the street to school, listening. The branches swayed softly, rustling with the crinkle of drying leaves as they floated down around me, my shoulders turned in and my arms wrapped around my body for warmth.
Last weekend the sun shined as my kids ran down our backyard hill to jump in the pile of leaves there. Again and again they sprinted up and down the hill. My daughter splayed out on her back in the center, hands behind her head, declaring the pile to be a hot tub. The boys instantly covered her with armfuls of bubble leaves, drowning her in innocent joy.
Nightly bonfires reach my nose; the toasted wood lingers and smolders as the sun departs, the night air crisp and clean. I realize I’ve been enjoying the slow progression from the vibrant life of summer to the cold death of winter and wishing the transition to extend just a bit longer. There is beauty in the demise.
It is the first day of November, and so, today, there will be soup. I suppose it’s a bit of a misnomer to say I’m going to talk about chicken noodle soup and then casually drop in that there are both radishes and leeks involved, rather than your traditional mirepoix. Oh, and instead of large noodles, we’re working with acini di pepe. NBD.
Really, though, at its heart, this soup is still basic. It is a chicken soup made from rich chicken stock, vegetables, and noodles. It’s reminiscent of cold, rainy days, of sick days home from school, of all the nostalgia that gets rolled into one ball of warm comfort.
This chicken noodle soup differs from the original in that it has a definite earthiness that comes from the robust rainbow carrots, the delicate leek flavor, and sweetness from the cooked radishes. The lemon at the end brightens it up slightly and pairs well with the herbs and vegetables, leaving you with everything you’ve come to expect from this comforting classic dressed in new colors.
1/2 cup finely chopped leeks
1 cup chopped rainbow carrots
1 cup chopped radishes
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 cup dry white wine, optional
3 quarts (12 cups) chicken stock
8 ounces acini di pepe noodles
2 cups chopped/shredded cooked chicken
Salt and black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add in the leeks and cook for 3 minutes before adding in the carrots, radishes, celery, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, just until tender.
Stir in the bay leaves, thyme, and oregano, and the wine. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add the stock. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in the chicken and cook until heated through.
Once the chicken is hot, season with salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon juice. Garnish with parsley.
Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
Makes 8 servings