There is nothing like a bout with the flu that leaves me wanting – and even crying for – my mom. I am quite possibly the biggest baby when it comes to being sick and the only thing that makes me feel like all will be okay is my mommy. Blame her, not me – she was the best nurse a girl could ask for.
On sick days when I was young, my mom would set me up in the living room with a tray of chicken noodle soup, saltines, ginger ale, and Little House on the Prairie (the only show on TV during the day in the 90s and early 2000s that wasn’t a soap opera). You could definitely say I enjoyed staying home sick when I was a child.
Fast forward some 20 years and the perks to being sick are not what I remembered (nor is Little House on the Prairie). After spending the weekend with a terrible case of the flu, Monday rolled in and I finally had an appetite. While I was ready to eat a cow, I took my mom’s advice to take it easy, so I decided to make my homemade chicken noodle soup. It’s an extremely easy soup to make and it tastes like home. The soup is satisfying, yet it’s light and nutritious (just watch how much salt you put in). This is a chicken noodle soup for both the soul and stomach.
When the topic of Tuesday’s dinner came up, I still wasn’t feeling 100%, but I wanted something heartier than chicken noodle soup. Thus, I decided to throw together a roasted red pepper and roasted tomato soup and it was souper! Even if you’re not familiar with roasting peppers and tomatoes, you will find that this soup isn’t too difficult to perfect — It’s a fun challenge. It takes a bit of time, but it is well worth the wait. The soup has a mature and rich flavor where you can smell and taste the roasted ingredients. In addition, it’s a beautiful soup that will surely impress. I highly recommend a great loaf of bread to accompany the roasted red pepper and roasted tomato soup.
Roasted Red Pepper and Roasted Tomato Soup
-3 cups of chicken stock (you can use up to 5 cups of chicken stock, but I like mixing chicken stock with chicken broth)
-2 cups of chicken broth (If you want a thicker soup, add less broth)
-3 red peppers (or 1.5 lbs of red peppers)
-6 Roma tomatoes (or approximately one lb of tomatoes)
-1 large onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, chopped
-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing) and a little extra for coating the Roma tomatoes
-2 pinches dry parsley
-2 pinches dry oregano
-2 pinches dry thyme
-2-3 tbsp of fresh basil, chopped
-Salt and pepper to taste
-2 tbsp tomato paste
-1/4 cup of fat-free half and half
-2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded
-1 gallon size Ziploc bag
-To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and set a rack in the middle of the oven.
-Cut off a thin slice off the stem side of the Roma tomatoes and then cut the tomatoes lengthwise in half.
-Place the tomatoes in a bowl and drizzle about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir the contents until mixed together.
-Cover a baking sheet with foil, and if you can, place a wrack over the baking sheet/foil (this way it’s just an easier clean up and the rack makes sure the tomatoes don’t stick). Place the tomatoes skin side down and sprinkle a little more salt and pepper over them.
-Place on the center rack in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes. REMINDER: ovens vary as do the sizes of Roma tomatoes so just make sure to keep an eye on the tomatoes. You don’t want to char tomatoes (like you will with the red peppers), but a little browning is good. The picture below is what my tomatoes looked like when finished roasting.
-While the tomatoes are roasting, in a large pot, sauté the garlic, onions, and one pinch each of thyme, oregano, and parsley on low to medium heat for about five minutes or until the onions appear translucent. Once cooked, keep the burner on very low to keep the contents warm.
-Once the tomatoes are roasted, using either a spatula or tongs, transfer them into a blender. Add the onion, garlic, and herbs and blend for about 30 seconds until there is a smooth consistency as pictured below.
-Place the contents back in the pot and cover. Make sure the burner is off.
-To roast the peppers, put the oven on broil (high is what I recommend).
–Thinly cut off both sides of the pepper.
-Slice through one side of the pepper skin and continue to cut around the core and membranes of the pepper until you can pull the core out. Cut the peppers in half. One of my peppers ended up breaking into three pieces while I was extracting the seeds and core – not a big deal as long as the pepper can lie flat on a cooking sheet.
-Cover a baking sheet with foil and place the peppers skin side up. With the palm of your hand, push down on each pepper until each one is as flat as possible. The pepper will tear a bit on the edges, but that’s fine.
-Broil for about 15 – 20 minutes. Remember, ovens vary so your time may be different. Make sure the peppers look charred at some spots. The skins will not peel off properly if the pepper isn’t cooked enough.
-While the peppers roast, chop the basil.
-Once roasted, remove the peppers and immediately place in the Ziploc bag and seal it close (this helps with the removal of the pepper skins). Let the peppers steam for about fifteen minutes. Remove the peppers and peel the skins off: start at one of the ends and scrape with your fingers until a thin film-like layer of skin comes off. The skin is very thin, so try not to mash the pepper as you peel (If you’re having a hard time peeling the skin off, you can try using a knife to help).
-Place the peppers and basil in the blender and add about ¼ cup of chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Add in the roasted tomato mixture and two cups of chicken stock and blend until well incorporated and smooth. Pour the roasted red pepper and tomato mix back into the pot and put the heat on medium.
-Add in the remainder of the broth, another pinch each of thyme, oregano, and parlsey, and salt and pepper to taste and stir.
-Next, stir in the Parmesan cheese and half and half until well incorporated.
-Cover the pot and let the contents simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat. Stir ever so often (I probably ended up stirring every five minutes, but I’m compulsive).
-Ladle into a bowl and enjoy!
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
-3 cups of chicken stock + 6 cups of chicken broth (Again, I like to combine these two, but just make sure you have around 9 fluid cups of some type of broth)
-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
-1 chicken breast
-1 medium white onion, chopped
-3 green onions, sliced (optional)
-1 cup of celery, sliced
-2/3 cup of carrots, chopped
-1 cup spinach, loosely chopped (optional)
-1 cup of dry noodles of your choice (I used rotini)
-2 tbsp extra olive oil for sautéing
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Pinch of parsley for garnish
-In a large pot, sauté the garlic and onion with salt and pepper to taste for about five minutes on medium heat or until the onions appear translucent.
-Pour in the chicken stock and broth and add a pinch of salt. Let the contents come to a boil.
-Once the broth is boiling, put in the carrots, green onions, celery, and spinach. Let cook for about a minute.
-Next, drop in the chicken breast (note: I’m poaching the chicken breast).
-Cover the pot and cook for ten minutes on medium heat (you don’t want a full boil, but you want more than just a simmer). Stir occasionally.
-After ten minutes, flip the chicken breast over and cook for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Take the chicken breast out and place in a bowl.
-Pour in the cup of noodles and make sure they cook for the desired time in the soup. My noodles took about eight minutes. If you prefer, you can always cook your noodles separately and add them in at the end.
-While the noodles start to cook, shred the chicken with two forks. I also cut the chicken, but if you prefer bigger chunks, just shred the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and pour back into the pot.
-Once the noodles have cooked, lower the heat to low and let the soup simmer with the top on between five and ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Ladle into a bowl and enjoy!