It's Crazy Cooking Challenge time! The challenge presented for January by our hostess, Tina of Mom's Crazy Cooking, was CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP. The rules? Our soups must include chicken, our soups must include noodles, and we must have found the recipe out there somewhere in blogland. That was it ... anything else goes. And you probably know me by now ... I had to find something that was, well, just a bit different. I love, love, love to try recipes that have a crazy-sounding flavor combination or just a little something in them you wouldn't ordinarily expect.
Enter ...Elizabeth of Pine Cone and Acorns' Chicken Artichoke Brie Soup. Ah hah! I had found my 'little something different.' Brie in chicken soup? Oh, I was all over trying that. And let me just say, I'm sooooooo glad I did. This soup is so richly creamy and flavorful, and beautiful, too, with the deep dark green of spinach running all through it. Yum.
Another great thing with this recipe - it's pretty 'flexible' ... I think you could easily make changes to the ingredients to suit your personal taste and it still be just as wonderful as the original. Here are the changes I made:
- Added noodles ... mini farfalle (bowties), to be exact. Hey, The Challenge did require me to use noodles, right?
- Increased the amount of spinach
- Substituted whole milk for the half-&-half and whipping cream (I just couldn't bring myself to use three different kinds of milk in this one single soup!)
- Left a little bit of the rind on my brie, instead of cutting it all completely off. It broke my heart to cut all the wonderful brie-y-ness off.
- Added a little extra seasoning of salt at the end of the cooking process
- Oh, and I changed the name. Like Elizabeth suggested, I wanted a name that encompassed all the yummy ingredients in this soup!
So ... let's see how to whip up this totally delicious, creamy dreaminess of a chicken noodle soup.
Just as so many totally tasty soups begin, start by cooking up some onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in a bit of butter. Just soften them up a little bit and let them get to know each another.
|Oh .... this is how sooooooo many wonderfully tasty soups begin!|
|Mini farfalle - it's so cute!|
|Bring on the creamy!|
|"I'm ready for my dip in the hot tub!"|
Thing 1 - Does the Brie add a flavor element?
In Elizabeth of Pine Cone and Acorns' post, she pondered about whether the Brie added flavor to this soup, or if it simply made it nice and creamy. Well, I had to explore that question further to find out. Ya know, that's just what I like to do ... I'm always full of "I wonders." So, I scooped out some of the soup before I melted in the Brie and later put it to a head-to-head comparison with the Brie'd version.
The verdict?? Brie does add a flavor factor, though it's indeed very mild. Without doing a side-by-side, head-to-head taste test, I think it would be difficult to discern the Brie flavor element. But the Brie flavor is indeed there. The Brie absolutely adds quite a bit of a creaminess factor. While the non-Brie version is certainly still creamy, the Brie puts this soup over the top in terms of creamy dreaminess. That being said, if you're not a fan of Brie or just don't feel like running to the store to get some Brie, rest assured that this soup is totally wonderful and flavorful even without it.
Thing 2 - To rind or not to rind? - that is the question!
The original recipe instructs us to remove the rind from the Brie. Well, as I mentioned earlier in this post, cutting off all that Brie-y-ness in the rind just broke my heart. So, I cut off some but also left some on. I think the answer to this question is a matter of personal preference. The rind that I left on melted into the soup just like the creamy inside, so there weren't any big ol' rind lumps. I do think the rind gave fabulous flavor to the soup. Next time I make this soup, I will simply shave off just a tiny bit of the rind and leave most of it intact. Personally, I love the flavor of Brie rind. But, if you don't, cut it off.
Serve this flavorful soup up with a salad and some biscuits or crusty bread, and you've got yourself one tasty and hearty meal. Enjoy!
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup with Brie, Spinach & Artichokes
Source: Adapted from Pine Cone and Acorns Chicken Artichoke Brie Soup
3 T. butter
1 c. chopped carrots (about 2 carrots)
1 c. chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth
1/2 tsp. ground white or black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. whole milk
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. small pasta (I used mini farfalle - a.k.a. mini 'bowties')
2 c. cooked chopped chicken (I used the white meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
Additional 1 c. whole milk
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 (9 oz.) package frozen artichoke hearts
4 1/2 oz. Brie or Camembert cheese, some or all of the rind removed, and cut into chunks
1. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic; cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
3. Increase heat to return broth mixture to a slow boil. Add pasta; reduce heat to medium and simmer until pasta is al dente, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Combine 2 cups whole milk and flour in a large screw-top jar. Cover and shake well until smooth. Stir into soup. Increase heat back to medium-high; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
5. Stir in chicken, additional 1 cup whole milk, artichokes, spinach, and Brie. Cook and stir over medium heat about 5 minutes more until the soup is heated through and the Brie is melted. Be careful not to let the soup scorch.
6. Give the soup a taste, and add salt as needed. I found that an additional 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt added at the end of the cooking time really brightened up the flavors in this hearty soup.
- This soup is flavorful and delicious both with and without the Brie.
- Including the Brie's rind or cutting it off is a matter of personal flavor preference.
- I think this soup would be equally good with or without the artichokes. So, if you're not an artichoke fan, simply leave them out.
- You could make this with turkey, too. Great to use up leftovers from a big ol' turkey!
- Make sure to taste the soup at the end of it's cooking and add some salt, if needed. I found that a little sprinkling of salt at the end really brightened up the flavors.