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?
— Lisa A., Ashland
You aren't doing anything wrong. You're just fighting the same battle we all fight when making homemade chicken noodle soup. This can be a problem especially with this type of soup because it's so tempting to make 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 that 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 may be a bit inconvenient to always cook noodles before having your soup, but it's probably worth it to keep the mush factor 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.
We're not sure, though, if your opinion of canned soups holds up on the noodle front, as there are plenty of slimy noodles to be had in cans. However, keep in mind that commercially canned products often contain a lot of preservatives that aren't used in home cooking, and those could help to keep noodles more firm.
Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; email to email@example.com.