I can’t think of a better way to end the work week and kick off the weekend than to entertain some friends at my home with a three beer sauna on Friday night.
My friends arrive around 8ish and meander around, get their things ready, change their clothes and fill up their water bottles. We get into the sauna and then finally get a chance to catch up and learn about new happenings while the smell of sage fills the air. People begin to decompress and its time to punctuate the moment with a blast of steam. In between sauna rounds, the cold Fall night cools off the bathers and its soon time for the next round. Nothing like an ice cold beer in your sauna on Friday night! By the end of the third round, everyone is completely relaxed and in the right frame of mind. A great way to top off the evening is with a bowl of hearty chicken noodle soup, especially on a cold night.
Below is my favorite recipe. You can make it the day before so you’re not rushing around before your guests arrive.
MAKES ABOUT 3 QUARTS, SERVING 6 TO 8
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), breast removed and split, remaining chicken cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 medium onions , cut into medium dice
- 2 quarts boiling water
- Table salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large carrot , peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 medium rib celery , sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cups egg noodles (8 ounces), preferably wide
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
- Ground black pepper
- A pinch of Cayenne
- 1. Heat oil in large soup kettle. When oil shimmers and starts to smoke, add chicken breast halves; sauté until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add half of chopped onions to kettle; sauté until colored and softened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside. Add half of chicken pieces; sauté until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with onions. Sauté remaining chicken pieces. Return onions and chicken pieces (excluding breasts) to kettle. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water along with both breast halves, 2 teaspoons salt, bay leaves and cayenne. Return to simmer, then cover and barely simmer until chicken breasts are cooked and broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes.
- 2. Remove chicken breasts from kettle; set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove skin from breasts, then remove meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces; discard skin and bone. Strain broth; discard bones. Skim fat from broth, reserving 2 tablespoons. (Broth and meat can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days.)
- 3. Return soup kettle to medium-high heat. Add reserved chicken fat. Add remaining onions, along with carrot and celery; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, along with broth and chicken; simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, stir in parsley, and serve.