When you're in the middle of what might be a drippy, wet, white (snow still keeps popping up in the forecast!) spring, and you've decided to make the most of it, you'll need something hot in a pot on the back of the stove by the time dinner rolls around. And since it is spring (proof: I saw bluebirds yesterday!), a heavy, deeply flavored thing just wouldn't be right. Something bright, yet soothing, and certainly not complicated, seems a better fit. And it must be something that can be put together early in the day, placed in the refrigerator to keep, then pulled out to simmer in anticipation of hungry people sitting around the table at the end of the day.
So, I began a pot of chicken noodle soup, in my usual way, with chopped carrots and celery, onion and garlic, and roast chicken from the previous night's dinner.
Then, I noticed a lemon there on my counter, looking abandoned and forlorn, (and a bit closely shaven as it had already given its zest for the morning's scones), waiting for something to give its juice to, and all at once I remembered reading Heather Bullard's recipe about Lemon Pepper Pappardelle and Chicken Soup. In a few clicks I was there, rereading all about it.
Since our dinner was within hours and the nearest Trader Joes is over three hundred miles away, I knew I'd have to forego the lemon pepper pappardelle, but I could add the called-for fresh-squeezed juice, at the very end, after I'd dropped the homemade egg noodles into the soup (here's where I wished I had another lemon to zest into the noodle dough, along with some freshly cracked pepper).
People? It was lovely. Just lovely. The hint of lemon brightened the soup just enough to make if feel different, yet not foreign. It was warm, soothing, and bright. Just what you'd hope for on a spring day.
Interestingly, for years I've made the broth-vegetable-chicken part of my chicken noodle soup pretty much the same way Heather describes in her recipe, although I most often use meat from a previous day's roasted chicken dinner. Since I was a teenager, though, I've always included egg noodles made from my grandma's recipe. Mixed from flour, salt, water, and egg, you're supposed to rolled the dough out and cut it into strips. I rebelled somewhere along the way and now, instead of rolling and cutting it into noodles, I've taken to simply tearing off thumb-size chunks of dough and tossing them into the bubbling soup to cook. The dough disappears beneath the surface for an moment, then rises to the top as perfect little dumplings. And when you use farm fresh eggs, they are perfect yellow little dumplings. Grin.
1 cup flour
1 eggshell of water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix them together.
The the noodles take mere minutes to cook, so just remember to put them in the pot last (just before you add the lemon juice!), with everything else already there, happily cooked and waiting over a strong simmer. The soup will be ready to ladle into bowls in about five minutes.
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