This from-scratch chicken noodle soup was a perfect way to clean out our refrigerator and to celebrate the first snow of the year in Zurich. But what really makes it special is that it uses the homemade egg noodles that my grandma taught me to make when I was a little girl.
Making noodles with Grandma was a frequent "special treat" when I spent time at her house. As I remember, she did not add vegetables to her chicken soup -- just plain homemade broth and simmered chicken, with the noodles cooked directly in the broth. My time spent cooking with her and the taste of her soup are the best, deepest-seated food memories I have.
There is no recipe for this soup, only steps. The first step is to boil a chicken. When the meat is cooked, pluck it from the bones, and return the bones and skin to the soup pot. Simmer the bones for a couple hours, and degrease the broth with a spoon.
Because the two pots in our temporary apartment are so small, I boiled the vegetables we had in the fridge (leeks, carrots, and celery) in batches in a separate pot of salted water. When the vegetables were tender, I scooped them out of the water with a strainer and put them in their own big bowl. Then I cooked the noodles in the same boiling water, and removed them to their own bowl.
Preparing the noodles is simple, if time consuming; interestingly, it did not make nearly the mess I remember from when I was seven years old. Lacking any sort of measuring cup in our temporary apartment, all I can say is that I used about 2 cups of flour, 4 small eggs, maybe a 1/2 tsp. of salt, and enough milk to bring the dough to a nice consistency.
The procedure is one of making a rough-hewn pasta. Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle, add the eggs, and begin to beat the eggs with a fork, drawing the flour into the liquid mess in the middle. Then you knead the dough, and (this part is critical, because it is how my grandma did it) use a drinking glass to roll out the dough.
It is best and easiest to let the dough rest for a while before attempting to roll it out. Or roll it out, then let it rest, and roll it out again. Until the dough has rested sufficiently, it will resist being flattened, and will shrink back to a thicker pancake. What you want to achieve is dough that rolls out to about 1/8-inch thickness. For me, this is most easily achieved by rolling it once, cutting the dough into long strips about 1 1/2 inches wide, and then rolling each strip out again. Using a knife, cut the strips into individual noodles between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch wide, the thinner the better. Separate the noodles onto a plate where they will wait until you sprinkle them into boiling water.
The result is a delicious, somewhat chewy, traditional Polish egg noodle, like my Grandma taught me to make. As long as I live, I will never meet a kinder soul than she.