Summer is the time of freedom, of flashlight tag, capture the flag marathons spread over days, and movie nights on weeknights. But it’s also the time when meals can start to slide towards the less healthy: hot dogs by the pool, daily Italian ices, and burgers at swim meets. Having a batch of homemade soup in the fridge keeps things from getting too lax. When the kids run in starving after a fevered game of capture the flag, microwaving a big bowl of soup, chock full of homemade chicken stock, chunky vegetables, pasta, and parmesan is much easier than pestering me to throw some chicken nuggets in the oven.
Soup works for almost everyone in the family. Baby Sophie just sinks her hands in it and fishes out pretty colorful veggies. Juju drizzles hers with parmesan shavings. Bella eats hers slowly, with artistic grace, dipping crackers dreamily while reading a good book. Jack is my only soup holdout, but if 75% of my crowd is fed and happy, I’m a winner.
Soup is my grounding food. When things get hectic, crazy, and completely out of hand, soup brings me sanity. This is true year round, not just when down parkas are everyday necessities. Even when the weather is steamy outside and flip flops are the only footwear required, having a big vat of homemade soup in the fridge makes me breathe easier. Cold soups like gazpacho and chilled roasted carrot are nice, but they’re a tougher sell with the kids. Chunky chicken and vegetable soup with alphabet noodles is irresistible, and can be thrown together almost as an afterthought with the leftover chicken bones from roasted chickens.
I’m not sure how many days you have left until your kids invade your home for summer, but if the thought alone is giving you anxiety, throw a batch of this soup together, I promise that it will bring you a sense of peace, a battening down of the hatches, a much needed calm before the storm.
- Bones and Carcass of 1 or 2 Roasted Chickens
- 1 Cup of Alphabet Noodles (if Penne or Elbows are your faves, by all means substitute!)
- 1 Onion, Peeled and Diced
- 6 Carrots, Peeled and Sliced
- 1 Celery Rib, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 1 can of diced tomatoes (or fresh once they're good!)
- 1 cup of frozen corn
- 1 cup of chopped green beans
- 8 cups of water
- Fresh or dried parsley, sage, and thyme
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Parmesan to taste
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot.
- Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant, about 4 minutes.
- Add the carrots, herbs, and the chicken bones.
- Fill the pot with the water until 1 inch from the top.
- Bring the water to a boil and lower to medium heat. Cook for 1 to 2 hours.
- Remove the bones.
- Add the remaining veggies: green beans, corn, peas and tomatoes. Cook for another 20 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Now add the pasta and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Serve warm with plenty of grated parmesan on top. This will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Note that the pasta will expand overnight in the pot as it soaks up the liquid, giving this soup a thicker consistency which makes it even more of a crowd pleaser in our house.