My grandmother didn’t write down her recipe, but my aunts put their heads together to recall how Grandma made her chicken noodle soup. I received lots of help from my aunties Mary Fransen, Nettie Peters, Louise Friesen and Helen Loeppky. The photo is by Lynette Froese, who is the daughter of another aunt, Margaret Froese.
You can read the story about my grandmother’s soup here.
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- Milk (or water) to make firm dough
- Break the eggs and place them with the salt and flour into a mixing bowl. Move the above mixture to one side of the bowl and add a small amount of milk. Mix in enough flour to begin a dough. Keep adding milk to the flour until all the egg/salt/flour mixture has formed into a firm (not sticky) dough. Work the dough with your hands until smooth.
- Divide the dough into balls about 4-5 inches in diameter. Spread flour on a countertop or table and roll out one ball of dough at a time into very thin circles 15-18” in diameter) so that you end up with as many flat pieces of thin dough. Keep sprinkling flour on the table and on top of the dough to make rolling it out easier. The circles should be slightly covered with flour all over.
- The circles of dough need to be dried, either on a floured table or hung over a laundry drying rack. After the dough is dry, place several of the dough circles on top of one another. With a sharp knife cut through all the layers of dough to make about two-inch wide strips. Beginning at the end of a strip cut dough into very thin noodles. (If the noodles will not be used for soup the same day scatter the noodles on a floured table for further drying and store in airtight containers for future use.)
On noodle-soup day, a hen (past the egg-laying stage) is caught, and the head chopped off on a chopping block. A large pot of water has been brought to a boil in advance. The chicken is dipped into the scalding water to release the feathers. Grabbing the chicken by the legs, all the feathers are immediately plucked. The hair on the hen is removed by rotating the chicken over a small alcohol flame. The hen is then washed in cold water to get it ready to be drawn. The chicken gizzard and liver are saved as a delicacy. Drawing the innards of the chicken takes some skill. To maximize nutrition, the chicken feet are cleaned and later boiled along with the rest of the chicken. The hen is thoroughly rinsed and then placed into cold water to get chilled.
Next the chicken is placed in a large pot and covered with water. As the water comes to a boil, the foam that forms on top is removed with a skimmer. The chicken should be boiled at a low temperature until well done, around two hours. Salt is added to taste.
While the hen is boiling, add the following items to give the broth a special flavour:
- a generous bunch of fresh parsley tied together with thread
- a spice caddy holding about 1 tbsp. peppercorns, 3-4 large bay leaves, and 4 star anise pieces.
- one cinnamon stick
When the chicken is fully cooked, take it out of the broth, debone it and cut the meat into pieces to be served as a side.
In a separate pot, place the finely cut homemade noodles into boiling water and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until tender. The starchy water is drained from the noodles in a colander. Stir a dab butter (1 Tbsp) into the noodles. Place the hot noodles in a large serving soup bowl and ladle the broth over the noodles.
With some freshly baked bread, this recipe can be a hearty meal for family of eight plus two hired hands!