Q.: I need your help! Whenever I make chicken noodle soup, my noodles eventually break up and turn to mush. Then it’s like eating chicken mush soup. I have tried all kinds of noodles with no success and tried cooking the noodles first as opposed to just dumping them into the pot. Same result. I notice the noodles in canned soups maintain their firmness. What am I doing wrong?
— Donald Tabellion,
A.: You aren’t doing anything wrong, you are just fighting the same battle we all fight when making homemade chicken noodle soup. This is especially a problem because many of us like to make chicken noodle soup in large batches and put some in the freezer. But by the time the last quart is eaten, the noodles often are softer than we like.
The first thing you can try is using a thicker noodle, which won’t get mushy as quickly.
Another trick is to try what a lot of restaurants do: make the soup ahead of time, without any noodles, then freeze or refrigerate as you normally would. Then, when you want to eat it, cook the noodles in water separately and add them to the soup just before serving. This is a bit inconvenient to always have to cook noodles before you have your soup, but probably worth it for you to keep the mush at bay. This method also helps to keep broth clear, because the starch from the noodles ends up in the cooking water, not the soup.
I’m not sure I’d agree with you about canned soups, as I have had my share of slimy noodles out of a can. However, keep in mind that commercially canned products often contain a lot of preservatives that we don’t use in our home cooking, that would help to keep noodles more firm.
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