Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

by Susan on December 7, 2016

Most weeks my crock pot stays tucked away, but this week I’m setting a record by pulling it out three times! What can I say? There’s a lot going on around here, and with the holiday rush on top of things it’s nice to have dinner (somewhat) cook itself.

I’ve made several versions of homemade chicken noodle soup, and the family has always really liked it. I was completely surprised when they thought this crock pot recipe was the best I’ve ever made! Easy, inexpensive and kid-friendly are all wins in my book!

The original recipe from Food Network calls for egg noodles, which are hard to find gluten-free. I opted instead for gluten-free fettuccine from Manini’s, which I’ve found at Whole Foods. The noodles are fresh, so the cooking time was less than the 15 minutes required for dry. Keep that in mind depending on what type of pasta you use.

I also found better pricing (surprisingly) for boneless and skinless chicken thighs than I did for bone-in. Using them made the meat easier to shred, so I think I’ll stick to that route when I make this one again.

This simple and convenient recipe is dairy-free and easily made gluten-free with the appropriate noodles.

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
adapted from Food Network

8 ounces carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 3 large carrots)
6 ounces celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 5 large stalks)
1/4 small onion, peeled and root end intact
2 large sprigs parsley, plus 1/4 cup chopped leaves
2 large sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
sea salt
2 lbs. boneless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
8 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
6 ounces gluten-free noodles of choice
1 to 2 tbs.  freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss the carrots and celery together in the slow cooker. Add the onion, sprigs parsley, thyme, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon salt.
Rub the chicken thighs all over, including under the skin, with 1 teaspoon salt total, and put them on top of the vegetables. Add the chicken broth.

Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the chicken and stir in the noodles**.

While the noodles cook, shred the chicken with two forks. When the noodles are done, turn off the cooker, remove the parsley and thyme stems, and add the shredded chicken and 1 tbs. lemon juice. Taste, and add more lemon juice and salt as needed. Stir in a good amount of pepper and the chopped parsley, and serve hot.

**If using fresh as opposed to dried noodles, adjust the time down. Test them for doneness starting at about 5-7 minutes.

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Gluten-Free Baked “Drunken” Pasta

by Susan on December 6, 2016

I have made a few one pot pasta recipes just because the concept of throwing dry, uncooked pasta into a pot or skillet along with other ingredients thoroughly intrigued me. Know what else it did? Underwhelmed me, every single time. I found the pasta tended to stick to the vessel and just didn’t wind up with the right texture at all.

This recipe, however, has restored my faith in the possibility of dry pasta. I love everything about Tieghan and her blog Half Baked Harvest. She’s an amazingly talented teen cook, and all of her recipes have been hits. This pasta dish is no exception (my husband even went as far as to suggest it’s the best baked pasta I’ve ever made!).

I love the mixture of tomatoes, as I’m a complete sucker for anything containing sun-dried tomatoes. Including spinach makes this a complete meal, and you could even do as I did and include a little sausage for extra protein. The original recipe calls for a full pound of pasta, but I used 12 oz. since I was including the meat.

Any pasta would work here, but I liked how the brown rice penne really soaked up the cheese and sauce. I wouldn’t suggest trying to make this one dairy-free, as the various cheeses add so much flavor. I did opt for using red wine, and I also think it added a lot more body than could be accomplished with chicken broth. You can certainly use the latter, however, but then you might want to rename the dish…

Gluten-Free Baked “Drunken” Pasta
adapted from Half Baked Harvest

12 oz. Italian sausage, casings removed
28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 tbs. tomato paste
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drain oil but reserve)
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine (can sub organic with organic chicken broth)
12 oz. gluten-free penne
8 ounces fontina cheese, cubed
1 1/2 cups asiago cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
fresh basil or parsley, chopped for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Sausage does not need to be completely browned as it will cook more in the oven.

Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes and 2 tbs. of their oil, spinach, garlic, dried basil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, wine and 1 1/2 cups water.

Stir everything well to combine, and then add the dry pasta, fontina cheese, asiago cheese and parmesan cheese. Toss everything to evenly coat. Push down gently on the pasta to get most of it submerged in the sauce.

Tightly cover the baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the mozzarella over top of the pasta. Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and garnish with parsley and or basil. Cut and serve.

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