Chicken-less Noodle Soup

I have a cold.

It may not be true, but it seems to me like when I was younger I could easily get over a cold in one or two days. But as I get older… it feels like they drag out a lot longer and in some cases will quickly turn into a sinus infection that can last weeks. I had a good run where I would go 3 or more years between colds. These last couple of years though, it feels like I get sick once, sometimes twice in the same year. And I’m not talking about a minor sniffling and sneezing type of cold. I am talking about a full  on can’t sleep for 2-3 nights in a row because my face and chest are so congested, throat is raw from coughing to the point where it hurts to speak, body aching, nausea inducing type cold where I easily go through 4 or 5 tissue boxes in the first few days because my sinuses have become a leaky faucet rendering me completely out of commission and I find myself questioning what I did in life to deserve this horrid fate.

Am I becoming less resilient with age or are colds just stronger these days? I don’t know.

_MG_9453What I do know is that every family member, friend and even work colleagues will all give me the same advice. They suggest that I eat some chicken noodle soup, and it will fix me right up. I try to politely remind them I don’t eat chicken as I choke and wheeze through a coughing fit and then sometimes they’ll push a little harder saying I should make an exception just this once, you know for my health and all. I know these people genuinely care about me, and they are just trying to help.

When I was a kid and I got sick, my granddad used to make a huge pot of chicken noodle soup. He’d serve it to me in a bowl over white rice and insist I eat every last drop. I understand the myth behind a good chicken noodle soup, because I lived it, I experienced it. Even as a young adult and living on my own, if I ever got sick my grandfather would rush over with a fresh batch of soup. Knowing I was vegetarian, he’d bring me basically just a noodle soup: all the same ingredients as the traditional version with a vegetable broth and minus the chicken of course. It was something he just did to make me feel better.

My grandfather is not around to make me soup anymore unfortunately, so a few years ago after a similar bout with a cold, I set out to make a version of chicken-less noodle soup every bit as aromatic and soothing as the soup I remember he used to make. This recipe has all the right flavors that you’d recognize in a traditional chicken noodle, except I opt for spaghetti instead of egg noodle. If I so much as feel a tickle in my throat, I make a batch of this soup as soon as possible. I really like soup and even if it turns out to be a false alarm, this recipe freezes really well. It’s a great meal for any night, but especially delicious when your nose is clogged, your throat is sore and you don’t have much will to live left. This soup will help you feel like you’re finally on the mend.

I don’t think it’s the chicken that makes us feel better when we eat chicken noodle. I think it’s the familiar flavors of home, and the reminder that someone loves us enough to make us a homemade batch; even if that someone is you. That is the true magic behind a good chicken noodle.When I make this recipe, I can’t help but think of my grandpa. Today is his birthday in fact, and he would have been 87 years old. I know with certainty that if he were still alive, he would be the first to offer to make me a pot of soup to help me get better. Buen Provecho!

Makes 4-6 servings

2 TB Olive Oil
12 oz. package Quorn chik’n tenders*
4 celery stalks diced into ribs
3 carrots stalks diced into medallions
1/3 medium sweet onion diced
2 garlic cloves minced
32 oz container of No salt added Vegetable stock
6 C of water
2 1/2 tsp of kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1-2 medium russett potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
1-2 serving whole wheat spaghetti (or any noodle of your choice)

*Vegan version: In the UK Quorn recently started making a Vegan version of their chik’n tenders called chik’n pieces. If you’re in the US, you can use Gardein Chicken strips instead, or seitan as an option.


Heat 1 TB of olive oil in a large stock pot to medium heat. Add chik’n tenders and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. Cook stirring frequently until golden brown color and slight crust forms on tenders. Remove from pot and set aside. Add 1 TB of olive oil to same large stock pot on medium heat, once oil is heated add onions, celery and carrots. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until onions begin to soften, then add fresh garlic. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until garlic becomes golden in color. Add vegetable stock and water to pot, bring heat to high. Add salt, oregano, thyme and remainder of garlic powder. Bring liquid to a boil then add potatoes. Lower heat to medium, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes. Then add cooked chik’n tenders and noodles. Cover and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve!



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