|By Till Westermayer from Freiburg, Germany (Buchstabensuppe) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
These days, you don't need to make stock from scratch for a decent bowl of chicken noodle soup. Once upon a time, all the chicken stock you might find in the supermarket was either powdered bouillon (mostly salt and MSG) or a canned brand (again, a whole lot of salt). Neither of these choices came close to tasting like real stock. Now, there are many good brands of stock in a box and Better than Bouillon makes a line of stock pastes that is really top-notch. No kitchen should be without some form of stock since it is used in so many recipes. If you are a vegetarian, there are vegetable versions which can be used in any recipe calling for stock.
These supermarket stocks can be the basis for a good bowl of chicken soup. Not quite as good as my Jewish grandmother's chicken soup, but decent and far superior to any soup in a can.
Fast Chicken Noodle Soup
(serves 4; total cost is $7.60)
6 cups chicken stock
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thick sticks about 2" long (or use mini-carrots, cut into sticks)
1 large stalk of celery, trimmed and cut in 1/2 lengthwise and then into 2" lengths
6 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup tiny pasta such as vermicelli, alphabets, or tiny stars
lots of black pepper
Heat up the chicken stock to a simmer. Add carrots and celery and cook until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. You want no crunch in the carrots.
Add the cooked chicken and cook for 5 minutes until chicken is hot.
Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes until pasta is done.
Season generously with black pepper. Usually additional salt is not needed because even the low-sodium stocks are fairly salty, but add some if you feel the soup is lacking flavor.