STAT Chicken Noodle Soup

By Ann Fulton

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NOTE:  Following is an excerpt from my February 2013 column in the Lancaster Sunday News.  For the link to the referenced “Ask the Pediatrician” column, which may be of particular interest if you feel as though you or your children have been fighting colds and various illnesses since October, click here.

My dad does not cook.  He jokes that his one attempt to make macaroni and cheese when my mom was away failed because he didn’t realize he had to pre-cook the noodles.

Yet, my dad mentioned to me recently that he now looks forward to reading the lifestyle section of our local newspaper.  Not only does he check out his daughter’s recipes, he also has become a follower of the “Ask the Pediatrician” column across the page.  Though his children are all grown up, my dad knows this doctor well.  You see, she is my childhood friend.

“Dr. Pia” and I have known each other since kindergarten and were in each other’s weddings.  We worked together on the McCaskey High School newspaper, “The Vidette”, though we never dreamed we’d be staring across the newspaper pages at one another.

In light of that, we thought it would be fun for me to cook one of her favorite recipes.  How fitting that her pick is an elixir for all those unwanted colds and flus.  She told me that she often thinks about printing this recipe on a script pad because so often the kids she sees need this more than any drug she can provide.

Ironically, the day I planned to make this soup, my older son came down with the knock-down-drag-out flu.   It was one of the few things he wanted to eat for a few days, and it actually perked him up.  The rest of us enjoyed this classic comfort food for its taste and warmth as well as the fun twist Pia offers on the traditional noodle.

Consider keeping the ingredients for this recipe on hand or freezing a batch.  You never know when you may need it for your family or a friend.

STAT Chicken Noodle Soup
STAT is not an acronym despite typically being written in all caps. It is short for statem, which is Latin for immediately, and harkens back to the days when medical school was taught partially in Latin. Pia recommends a supermarket rotisserie chicken because it has good flavor and just the right amount of fat. If you are making it for a child, pay attention to the shape of vegetables, cutting them into “wheels” or “rainbows” so they are more inclined to eat them. I like to have extra broth on hand to add to any leftovers, as the pasta will continue to absorb the broth as it sits in your refrigerator overnight.
  • 8 cups (2 quart-size boxes) chicken broth (Pia doesn’t typically mandate organic for her patients but in this case she prefers it for maximum antioxidants and, depending on what you read, free range organic may have more.)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped big so that if your child doesn’t like onions it is easy to scoop around them
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, including the leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 package (8 ounces) of Acini di Pepe (pasta resembling couscous; see note)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (I used about ½ cup…we like our greens)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I did not use any additional salt and used about ¼ teaspoon pepper)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, picked of all its meat and torn into bite-size pieces
  1. Mix the stock, onion, carrots and celery together in a big soup pot. (If desired, you may sauté the veggies in a tablespoon of olive oil before adding the stock.) Bring to a boil. Add the pasta. Gently boil for about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and add the chicken and parsley. Keep on low heat a few minutes longer or until the carrots and celery are crisp-tender and the pasta is al dente. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Serve with saltine crackers and a lot of love.
  • Acini di Pepe can be found in the pasta aisle. However, another small pasta of your choice may certainly be used instead.
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  1. Barbara

    Chicken noodle soup has always been my go to, and this recipe is my absolute favorite! Made my first batch at the beginning of winter, and must be on our fourth now. We don’t have Acini di Pepe in the supermarket so I use Ditalini and make sure to gently boil it only halfway. It keeps cooking after the chicken is added. Oh my! Wonderful and delicious. We’ve served it to friends a couple of times and they love it too. Saltines are great, or some warm rolls on the side (somehow one always ends up in bits in my bowl:)
    Thank you! So glad I signed up for your email, next up is your split pea soup recipe.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Barbara! I’m delighted this soup has become a favorite and appreciate your helpful feedback. I hope you enjoy the split pea soup as well!

  2. Chris Rosser

    I have made this soup to great reviews from my family . Curious if kale could be substituted for parsley to bump up the iron . This could help someone who is anemic or would it change the taste too much?

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Chris, I’m so happy your family enjoyed this. I am a big fan of adding kale to soups and think it would be an excellent addition to this soup. The taste of kale won’t permeate the soup, and a really picky eater could always pick around it! My kids (even the very picky one) never seem to mind as long as the pieces aren’t really big.

    1. Ann

      Flat leaf parsley is generally thought to be a bit more flavorful but I use both varieties interchangeably, often based on what looks fresher. Also, in the summer I grow parsley in my garden and the curly parsley has always done better!

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  4. Christie

    Roasted a chicken with the intent on making stock (using your recipe) and this soup. I only had noodles and not pasta. This soup was really good and very easy to make. I even have some in the freezer for another meal!

    1. Ann

      Hi Jane,
      I haven’t but I am sure it would work. To make it extra foolproof, you could cook the quinoa separately and then add to the soup in the quantity desired. One cup of quinoa yields about 3 1/2 cups cooked which may differ a bit from the noodles used in this recipe. Millet or brown rice couscous would be good options to try, too.

  5. Regine Ibold

    Dear Ann –

    What a delicious recipe. I saute the vegetables in Frantoia Pepperoncini olive oil and add saffron to the stock.

    Son Hans says your blog looks great and says hello to Susan. ( Dr. Pia – Hans was the garlic baby in 1970. We had chicken with forty cloves of garlic the night before he was born. St. Jo’s nursery reeked of garlic.) Eager to try the parmesan crusted potatoes.

    1. Ann

      I haven’t tried that olive oil, Regine, but it sure sounds good. Thanks so much for the terrific comment. Hello to Hans, and I will pass his greeting along to Susan. I am laughing about the 40 cloves of garlic…It may have made an impression, but I am sure it tasted great!

  6. Lois

    What a great recipe and how fun that it’s your friend’s favorite. Cute story of your dad reading her column. Thank you for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday! Please come back next week and join us again!

  7. Jen

    My family loved this soup! It was so easy to make after a busy day of work. I can’t wait to try the mango smoothie this week.

    1. Ann

      I am thrilled you liked this, Jen! Thanks so much for the feedback, and I hope you enjoy the smoothie as well!