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Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles

January 21, 2011

SoupAddict saw a recipe last year that really spoke to her. It’s blustery, snowy winter here, and things warm and thick and comforting are highly prized. And in SoupAddict’s world, things that are warm and thick and comforting often come in the form of soup. Soup is love in a bowl, is SoupAddict’s philosophy. (That, and “bacon is love on a plate.”)

Being smart and clever peeps, you probably noticed “Slow Cooker” in the title, along with the photo of SoupAddict’s Crock Pot above, and have already put 2 and 2 together, concluding that this will be a slow cooker recipe. The delicious original recipe was not one for the slow cooker (nor is it really a soup, but rather soup’s close and personal friend, Stew). But as SoupAddict was writing out her grocery shopping list for this recipe, she noticed the Crock Pot that has been sitting on her counter since Christmas. And [ding!] a light clicked on, and suddenly SoupAddict’s brain got to working—popping, pinging, and spewing a little exhaust in the process—and pretty soon she had a plan for a slow cooker version.

Chicken and noodles is really not chicken and noodles without carrots and celery and something from the onion family.
SoupAddict’s leek garden is still snuggled happily in its winter home in the backyard. Look at those roots! If SoupAddict had to live out in 16° weather, she’s certain her roots would not be so vibrant. Nonetheless, SoupAddict needed a shovel and a parka and someone to work the shovel while she wore the parka to free one leek from the frozen ground. But, lacking that, she persevered and successfully procured the leek, just before her fingers succumbed to frostbite. Who knew gardening could be so dangerous?
But, home-grown veggies are ever so lovely, frost-bite or not. This leek was just beautiful and delicious. If you’ve never grown veggies before, SoupAddict encourages you to make 2011 the Year of the Home Vegetable Garden.
Look at these gorgeous beauties. SoupAddict is always amazed that such wonderfulness grows right out of the ground.
SoupAddict is preparing this dish on a weekend, so she is using bone-in split chicken breasts and bone-in thighs. If you’re preparing this while you’re away for the day, use boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs. You’ll be thankful later when you’re not stripping meat off the bone after working your own fingers to the bone. SoupAddict always seasons her chicken with salt before cooking. For even more flavorful chicken, let the seasoned chicken spend the night in the fridge.
Mmmmmm … herbs and spices. The orange powder on the left is turmeric. It will give the dish that traditional deep yellow color. Fresh thyme leaves (SoupAddict pinched off a few branches of thyme after she finished wrestling the leek), oregano, white or black pepper and salt go right in the pot.
Since SoupAddict is using water rather than broth, she also added some chicken base to the liquid.
Just a tablespoon in a quart of boiling water will do a body good. Everything goes into the slow cooker for a 6 to 8 hour stint (SoupAddict can also say, “Crock Pot” without being sued by Crock Pot, since she is actually using a Crock Pot. However, if you do not have a Crock Pot brand slow cooker, please be sure to mentally cross out all instances of “Crock Pot” herein, replacing them with “slow cooker,” so that the Crock Pot lawyers do not come after you for trademark infringement. Whew! SoupAddict needs a Kleenex after all that.)
Since SoupAddict is making this on a day when she was home, she used bone-in chicken. About 3/4ths of the way through the total cooking time, remove the chicken from the Crock Pot to a cutting board. Look at that yellow skin! That’s from the turmeric. If you’ve used boneless chicken, just leave it all intact, in the stew, until the very end.

Remove the skin, discard, and use two forks to pull the meat from the bones. Discard the bones … or, if you’re feeling extra motivated, you can actually put the more substantial bones back into the pot and let them continue to cook. Just remember to remove them before serving.

Mmmm, gorgeous.
Mm, bony. (And did SoupAddict actually discard the tender, seasoned chicken skin? She’ll never [chomp] tell [nom nom].)
While the chicken’s waiting to go back in its lovely seasoned Crock Pot bath, SoupAddict adds some thickening agents. Take some flour …
… and add several tablespoons of liquid chicken goodness from the Crock Pot. Stir until it forms a nice, thick, paste. Your paste should not be blurry. SoupAddict’s was, but it still worked fine.

Add the paste to the stew in the Crock Pot and stir to combine thoroughly. Then add the chicken back Crock Pot.

SoupAddict loves Reames frozen egg noodles. They’re just brilliant.
Make sure your stew is still nice and hot before adding the frozen noodles. No need to thaw; the stew will take care of that right quick.
This, my friends, is comfort food. Pure and simple.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles
Adapted for the slow cooker from ThePioneerWoman.com

2 lbs. chicken (I used 1 bone-in split chicken breast and several bone-in thighs)
2 whole carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 leek, diced (white and light green parts only)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (more to taste)
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed (discard stem) OR 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
1 quart water, very, very hot (plus more as needed) OR 1 quart chicken stock, unheated (plus additional water as needed)
1 tablespoon chicken base, if you’re using water instead of broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
16 ounces frozen egg noodles

Preparation Instructions
Place the chicken, vegetables, herbs and spices (including salt) in the slower cooker and turn to LOW. If using water, mix the chicken base into the hot water. Pour the water/chicken base or chicken stock into the slow cooker. Add water as needed to ensure that the chicken is covered by the liquid.* Cover and let it do its thang for 6 to 8 hours.

If you’re home and you used bone-in chicken, remove all the chicken from the cooker at about the 4-5 hour mark. Remove the skin (if not skinless) and use two forks to pull the chicken apart and remove the bones. Otherwise, do this same step at the 6 hour mark, or as soon as possible after that. For boneless chicken, use two forks to pull the chicken into shreds. Set side.

Place the flour in a small mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, stirring to form a thick paste. Add this paste to the slow cooker and mix well to combine. Then add the chicken back the to cooker, along with any large, easily spottable-and-removable bones (for extra flavor). Cover and allow to continue cooking.

20 minutes before serving, add the frozen noodles to the cooker and turn heat to HIGH to help offset the cold temperature that the noodles will introduce. When noodles are cooked through, taste and adjust seasonings to suit. (Don’t forget to remove the bones, if you had re-added them back earlier.)

*The amount of liquid you need will vary according to the size and shape of your chicken pieces. I usually don’t need more than 4 cups, but don’t be surprised if you need 5. Remember, the more liquid you add, the more soupy it will be. If you want it thick, stick to the 4 cups.

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20 Comments
  1. Phyllis Ryan permalink
    January 21, 2011 8:27 am

    I bought chicken thighs for chicken and dumplings. Getting lazy in my old age, and boneless, skinless is easier to shred. But…… this may replace my recipe. Looks great. Love the seasoning on the chicken. Thanks again for a great weekend idea.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:37 pm

      Phyllis, I am right there with you. I requires special motivation for me to debone a chicken. (Or a can’t-pass-it-up sale on bone-in at the store.)

  2. Tina permalink
    January 21, 2011 9:29 am

    Suggestions if you can’t find frozen egg noodles? Is it all right to use regular ones or will they get too mushy?

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:39 pm

      No, they’ll be fine – I’ve done it myself. It just takes a little longer to cook the noodles, since the stew/soup isn’t at a boiling temperature.

      • Tina permalink
        January 21, 2011 12:56 pm

        Thank you!

  3. January 21, 2011 9:41 am

    Looks so yummy!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:39 pm

      Hi Stacey! Thank you. πŸ™‚

  4. January 21, 2011 11:50 am

    i’ve never used frozen noodles before. This recipe is a keeper!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:39 pm

      I hope you enjoy it!

  5. SoupAddict permalink
    January 21, 2011 12:42 pm

    Everyone: my Kroger carries Reames in the frozen food section. Depending on the store, sometimes it’s in the “novelties” aisle near the pizza bites and potato skins and pierogis and such, sometimes it’s with the frozen soups. In any case, they always seem to be on the very bottom shelf – tucked out of sight.

    • Tina permalink
      January 21, 2011 1:00 pm

      Thanks for this info. Kroger is my primary grocery, but I’m in relative podunk Georgia, so I was just assuming they wouldn’t have them as I noted on earlier post. I’ll check, though. Sometiems podunk surprises me. I do doubt, however, that the Pig (Piggly Wiggly) would prove fruitful.

  6. Nick permalink
    January 21, 2011 3:20 pm

    OK, this is on the menu for this weekend. Found the Reames frozen noodles, but not the pre-cooked variety. I think I’ll just boil ’em until almost done, then throw ’em in the slow cooker to finish. Never used tumeric before, looking forward to that.

    FWIW, I use a Kitchen Aid slow cooker. As slow cookers go, it’s the best I’ve ever used. Has a very quick recovery time if you take off the lid to peak at what’s goin’ on. Programmable, yadda yadda. Only possible drawback is that it’s HUGE. If only they’d think of us single folks and make a smaller one…

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 21, 2011 10:04 pm

      Hi Nick,
      That should work just fine! For the slow cookers, I was in a rock-hard place situation. When I bought the black crock pot, I already a huge model (although, not programmable), and I desperately needed a smalller one. Small = not much choice. Someday I’ll be able to upgrade to the fancy-schmancy programmable model!

  7. M.J. Jacobsen permalink
    January 21, 2011 10:26 pm

    Love this recipe, especially in the crockpot! Thanks for adjusting the recipe for slow cooking!!! πŸ™‚

  8. Nick permalink
    January 22, 2011 8:03 am

    SoupAddict,

    While the big Kitchen Aid is programmable, I’ve only used that feature once. I do like the way it cooks, though. I’m pretty much retired, so I’m usually home while it’s cooking. I tend to be a bit hands-on, so I really like the speed with which it recovers after a sneak-peak or stir.

    It has four settings: High, Low, Simmer and Buffet (which just keeps the food at serving temperature). High gets really hot, and Low tends to be hotter than the Low setting on other cookers I’ve had. I usually start a recipe on High for about a half hour to get things going, then turn it down to Simmer for the long haul.

    All in all, I’d say that if you like the way your big cooker cooks, stick with it. To me, being programmable really worth the extra money.

    BTW, before I got the Kitchen Aid I found a great deal on the All Clad slow cooker at a local Marshalls. I snapped it up, thinking, hey, if it’s All Clad it must be great! Wrong. Basically, Chinese junk. Lightly built, poorly insulated, etc. I”m afraid that All Clad has gone the way of too many once-proud companies. I’ve never been able to afford their other cookware, but I’ll no longer regret it.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 23, 2011 10:13 pm

      Same with Le Creuset. Bought this really awesome-looking Le Creuset stock pot last year – enamel on steel – that was unusually affordable. Found out why within a few months: first, the paint started chipping off on the outside. Then the enamel started chipping off on the inside. On the inside. I checked out the reviews on Amazon, and sure enough, other people were experiencing the same thing. And they’re still selling them.

  9. Nick permalink
    January 22, 2011 8:05 am

    Edit:

    “being programmable really worth the extra money.”

    Meant to type that it ISN’T really worth the extra money.

  10. January 23, 2011 4:58 pm

    I have leek envy. Very jealous that you can still forage for items in your yard.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      January 23, 2011 10:17 pm

      It’s kind of odd, actually. “Okay, gonna go get some veggies [pulls on snow boots, slings spade over shoulder].”

      It really, really makes me miss summer. πŸ™‚

  11. Barbara permalink
    August 22, 2011 2:25 pm

    Hi, I’m a single gal who needs to freeze soup in ziplocks. Been looking for a great chicken noodle soup. Do these noodles freeze well or will they be mushy?

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