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Creamy Chicken Noodles

Back-to-school time means lots of wonderful things for my kids: seeing good friends again, resuming favorite activities, and a heap of brand new books and freshly sharpened pencils. But every year without fail, re-entry into the germ soup of childhood also leaves us with a round of late August colds. This time it hit all four of us within a matter of days, so that we left behind a wake of tissue boxes and cough drop wrappers in every room. With a recycling bin full of empty Vitamin Water bottles and all the tiny medicine cups in the house pressed into service, I knew it was time to pull out the big guns: Creamy Chicken Noodles.

This recipe is chicken noodle soup’s saucier, slightly tangy cousin, thanks to a hearty chicken stock and a big spoonful of sour cream. The vegetables are reduced to a mince so that nothing interferes with the creamy, soothing texture. I prepared it with sautéed chicken breasts and broccoli because I was craving protein and something green, but there have been seasons when the savory egg noodles alone nursed us through days at a time. Whether you have a sore throat or not, everyone can do with a little extra TLC this time of year, and a big, steamy bowl of these is just the thing to provide it.

Creamy Chicken Noodles
makes 8-12 servings, depending on your appetite

3 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
3 carrots, peeled
4 stalks celery, leaves and white ends removed
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. kosher or coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. crushed brown mustard seed or 1 tsp. dried mustard powder
(if you have neither, substitute 1 Tbsp. prepared grainy mustard)
1/4 tsp. ground dried rosemary (read more in Lamb Ragout recipe notes)
1 32-oz. carton or 4 c. homemade chicken stock (not chicken broth)
2 c. water
12 oz. wide egg noodles
8 oz. sour cream (preferably all-natural, I use Daisy brand)

Cut carrots, celery, and onions into large chunks. Place in food processor along with garlic cloves and process until very finely chopped, stopping just short of puréed. The point is to include all the vegetable flavor and nutrition without the effort of chewing. :) You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your food processor.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add minced vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, until they are softened and onions and celery are turning translucent. Stir in salt, pepper, basil, thyme, mustard, and rosemary. Add chicken stock and water, cover, and bring to a boil.

When broth is boiling, remove lid and add egg noodles. Simmer rapidly for 12-15 minutes, until noodles are tender and stock has thickened to a saucy consistency. Add sour cream, reduce heat, and simmer on low for another 3-5 minutes, until sour cream is melted and sauce thickened. Taste for final seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve piping hot, adding hugs as needed based on recipient’s current emotional state.