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Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup

Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Not until recently did I find out that my mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup – my favorite winter dish coming in from the cold and when I was down with one – had a secret ingredient.  A secret because I never bothered to ask her while I crunched crackers over the soup, and finished bowl after bowl.

When I finally decided to make it myself, having never tasted that same depth of flavor in other chicken noodle soups, I was surprised that the secret ingredient just happened to be a spice - Nutmeg.

grated nutmeg seed for chicken noodle soup

The warm, nutty, citrusy, spicy flavor of nutmeg combined with the chicken broth forges a wonderful aroma in the house on winter days.  It did in my house growing up, and in my grandmother’s house where my mom learned the recipe.  And probably in my great grandmother’s house, and even more distant to our family cooking traditions in Europe.

Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Why nutmeg in chicken noodle soup?

The aroma and flavor are reason enough, but there may be another.

Chicken noodle soup is now widely known as the ‘cure for the common cold’, which is accurate in that the nutrients from the chicken broth, and other ingredients, contribute to strengthening your immune system to help you recover.  Historically, the ‘cure for the common cold’ came in many forms, but one notable remedy was nutmeg. Nutmeg played the role of preventing sickness – popular in the 16th century as means to ward off the plague – and in treating many illnesses.

The vast health properties now associated with nutmeg is reason enough to add a dash into your chicken noodle soup to fight off that cold.

And is a reminder of the knowledge of our ancestors, passed down to us through cooking traditions that we may not fully comprehend, but continue to this day in creating delicious meals, which thanks to them, keep us healthy too.

Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Nutmeg recipe 
by Season with Spice
Serves 6-8

What you’ll need:
1 whole chicken
3 quarts of water (12 cups)
2 stalks of celery - cubed
1 white onion - cubed
2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
3 carrots – using a peeler, shred carrots into long, thin pieces
1 tsp of Season with Spice's ground nutmeg
500g of egg noodles

Process:
1. Rinse chicken and cut into parts (i.e. legs, breast, wings, etc.).  Place in large pot, along with 3 quarts of water, celery and onion, and 2 tsp each of salt and black pepper.
2. Bring to a boil, then turn fire to low and cover.  Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
3. Remove the chicken from the pot, and then add in the carrot.  While the soup continues to simmer, separate the chicken meat from the bones.  Add the meat back into the pot, along with the nutmeg.
4. While soup is simmering, boil the egg noodles in a separate pot.  Once noodles are cooked, drain the water.  Before adding the noodles into the soup, make sure the carrots are softened, and check the flavor of the broth and add in salt or black pepper if necessary.
5. Once noodles are added into the pot, simmer for another 10 minutes. Then serve hot with a side of crackers.

Notes:
- Homemade soups and stews always taste better the next day. So if you have the time, cook up the chicken noodle soup a day before, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight, and then reheat on the stove the next day.
- Egg noodles are best for chicken noodle soup. If you don’t have it (like I didn’t), you can use any basic pasta noodle. Or you can make them yourself – check out Pioneer Woman’s recipe.