Chicken noodle soup is a favorite comfort food in almost every family. And every family has their own way of making it! My version is filling, but with a unique light freshness thanks to the dill and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You might be surprised to learn that my use of alphabet noodles is NOT at the request of my children, but at the request of my husband. Yes, you read that right. Our thirty-something-year-old family breadwinner, provider, and protector demands alphabet noodles in his chicken noodle soup. I don’t tease him about it though because I think he’s got a good point, and they add a fun and nostalgic twist to the recipe (shhhh, don’t tell him I’m giving him credit).
For this recipe, I am not providing exact quantities of water because every time I make it, the proportions end up slightly different depending on how long I simmer or boil, whether or not the pot is covered and for how long, and also simply due to the fact that different people prefer different consistencies. I love thick soups, but my husband and children prefer it when I make this soup with lots of broth and not much chicken. I will provide estimates that approximate our family preferences, but encourage you to adjust the amount of liquid to your personal preference.
3 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons sea salt (or to taste)
3-4 large carrots
1-2 large celery stalks
half a head of garlic
2 bay leaves
¼ to ½ cup alphabet noodles (we highly recommend Goya alphabet noodles)
about 5 stalks of fresh dill
1 cup frozen peas
1 large squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Place the chicken breasts, salt, and enough cool water to cover the chicken into a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Depending on the size, and starting temperature, this can take between 10 and 30 minutes.
Carefully remove chicken and reserve on a plate to allow to cool completely, before shredding. If you use all three chicken breasts, this will be a very meaty soup. I usually only use half (approximately 1.5 chicken breasts), and reserve the other half of shredded chicken to make chicken salad sandwiches, another family favorite.
Peel the carrots, slice lengthwise, then slice crosswise into thin half-moon shapes. Add to stock pot. Peel and finely chop the garlic, add to stockpot. Add bay leaves to stockpot. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Slice celery lengthwise, then crosswise into thin pieces and add to the stockpot and cover and continue to simmer until the veggies are soft but not mushy.
Add the noodles and simmer for about 10 minutes. Finely chop the dill while you are waiting. Once the noodles have expanded a bit, this is a good time to eyeball the amount of liquid and add more water if you prefer more broth.
Add the shredded chicken back to the pot (and double check the amount of liquid to ensure it is at your preferred consistency), along with the chopped dill. Bring the soup back up to the simmer.
Add in the frozen peas, and bring back up to the simmer. Immediately remove from heat, and add fresh lemon juice.
Allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to finish mingling off heat, then it’s ready to serve!