Cooler temperatures have finally arrived in South Louisiana. Sometimes this means sniffles and sneezes and the dreaded winter cold. What is best to combat a cold than a piping hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. The aroma seems to calm the sniffles and sneezes almost instantly. In fact, more than half of chicken noodle soup sold in the U.S. is sold during cold and flu season. I admit chicken noodle soup is not one of my favorites, except for when I have a cold. One of the most comforting memories from childhood is Mom putting a warm “fresh out the dryer” blanket around me, tucking it in just so, before the delivery of chicken noodle soup and Melba toast on my Mickey Mouse tray. Chicken Noodle Soup does the heart good, for the receiver and the giver. I still have the Mickey Mouse tray and still use it when I need a little pick-me-up. After all, it is Mickey Mouse! (..and no matter how much it ends up being worth on E-bay, it will always have a home with me.)
A small pot of homemade chicken noodle soup is not possible, so after deliveries and dinners, chances are there is still some leftover. That’s a good thing. This recipe is for that last cup of chicken noodle soup.
Cheesy Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole: To begin, boil 8 oz of your favorite pasta according to directions. (I am using large sea shell pasta.) Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees:
In a large saucepan, melt 4 TBSP butter over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1/3 cup flour. Stir until all flour is incorporated and the mixture begins to thicken and bubble, about 1 minute (will resemble a paste). Stir in the cup of leftover chicken noodle soup. Keep stirring and mix in 1 cup milk, adding 1/2 cup at a time (using skim milk today) and the 1/2 cup of pasta water. It will thicken quickly.
***FYI: You now have cream of chicken noodle soup, so if you have a favorite recipe using that, well, go Cook to Create!***
When combined, add in 6 oz of shredded cheddar cheese (or favorite cheese, saving remainder 2 oz). Stir until melted. Turn off heat.
Skip next step and stir in pasta and put mixture into casserole dish or continue for Mexican style casserole!
Cheesy Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole Mexican Style: Add 4 oz can of diced green chilies (roasted poblanos are good choice, too) and 3 chopped Roma tomatoes. I like to season the mixture with 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp of onion powder. But use your preference of seasonings. Remove from heat. Add in pasta. and stir
Transfer mixture to a 2 qt casserole dish. The casserole can be left plain or add crushed chips, tortilla chips (great use for the bottom of the bag crumbs) or corn tortillas cut into strips for topping. I happen to have corn tortillas today so that is what I am using.
Bake covered for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. (I like to add a little paprika, too. Love paprika and cheddar cheese.) Bake uncovered for 5 minutes more. That’s it! Enjoy
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: So many possibilities with this one. Want to add more veggies? Add in fresh cauliflower, carrots, or broccoli to the boiling pasta the last 2-3 minutes of cooking and proceed. Like black olives and jalapenos? Add them! Want to make it heartier? Add cooked cubed ham, sausage, or leftover rotisserie chicken. How can the taste change with different meat or cheeses? Like ham and Gruyère cheese,(peas good with this, too) sausage and pepper jack cheese (add sautéed onions, peppers, Cajun seasoning). Like Chinese? Add in Chinese vegetables and seasonings and top with crunchy chow mein noodles.
FOOD FUN: Did you know what chicken noodle soup was originally called? According to Boston.com, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup was originally called, “Noodle with Chicken soup”. During an advertisement on a radio program, the on-air host misread his copy and called the product Chicken Noodle Soup. Orders for the “new” soup came in and the rest as they say is history. It is reported that Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup has remained a Top 10 shelf-stable grocery item purchased in the U.S. since its birth in 1934. But we all know there is nothing like homemade chicken noodle soup!