When I say “comfort food,” what comes to your mind?
I think we all have different opinions on what comfort food is for us. For some, it could be pizza; for others, steak and potatoes. But for me, when I hear comfort food, the first thing that comes to mind is Amish chicken and noodles. This is the ultimate comfort food for me!! Steve and I lived in Indiana, where we served in a church in the South Bend area.
We were very close to a large Amish community. And let me tell you what, the Amish know how to cook!!! Every year, we would make multiple trips to an Amish town called Shepshewana. They had so many wonderfully fun stores to shop in, including a monthly auction and flea market. But the best thing about Shepshewana was the Blue Gate Café. As you walked into the café, you had 2 choices of where to eat.
To the right was the family-style part of the restaurant. There you paid one price, and the food was brought to your table family style.
Bowls of the best mashed potatoes you ever ate, vegetables, broasted chicken (yes, broasted. Somewhere between broiled and roasted and the best I have ever eaten), homemade rolls and much more. If you turned to the left, you ate in their ala carte restaurant, where you were given a menu and could order what you wanted. This is where we most often ate. However, the first choice for either side was to stop at the dessert counter. You see, the Amish make the most amazing pies!!! And you had to pick your piece as you went in because if you waited, it might not be there when you got done with your meal! Oh my word, the pies!!! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
If you know me very well, you know I am not much of a dessert person. I love savory and salty. So the thing I always looked forward to at the Blue Gate was the Chicken and Noodles that was served over and a generous amount of mashed potatoes! The first time I heard of it, I thought wow, that is a lot of carbs! What happened to the balanced plate of a protein, a starch and a vegetable? Well, one bite of this bowl and you will never miss the vegetables!! Of course, the noodles were always thick and homemade and each bite just warmed your stomach like a warm blanket in the winter. It was and still is my go-to comfort food.
As fall is approaching and cool weather is starting to show up, the other comfort food I love is soup. Give me a big bowl of hearty soup and some homemade sourdough and I am a happy girl. I have soups on rotation in my home, and I have many of them ready as a dump-and-serve meal.
What I love about soup is that you don’t necessarily have to follow the recipe. You can add or omit as you feel led by what you have in your fridge or pantry. The base of the soup can stay the same. But if you don’t have potatoes and you do have sweet potatoes? Then swap them. Have some extra kale that needs to be used? Add it to the soup. Want to make it a bit heartier? Add some rice or pasta! Soups are versatile and always a welcome place at the table during the winter months!
I hope you enjoy the recipes I’ve included and that they warm your stomachs this winter and bring you comfort!
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
2 1/4 lbs Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 lbs grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
4 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
8 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 small yellow onions, sliced just under 1/2-inch thick
2 cups (lightly packed fresh basil, divided
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 3 Tbsp olive oil then season with salt and pepper (place Roma halves cut side upright).
Place onion slices and garlic on a rimmed half sheet and brush with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil on all sides, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place baking sheet with tomatoes and half sheet with onions in oven (on oven racks set near center) and roast garlic 15 minutes (or until just golden) and remove, roast onions 30 – 35 minutes (until edges are golden brown) and remove, and roast tomatoes 40 – 45 minutes until slightly browned.
Pour roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic into a large pot. Add vegetable broth and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Blend soup with an immersion blender or in small batches in a blender (only fill blender half full and remove center insert and cover with a kitchen towel).
Serve warm topped with grilled cheese or grilled cheese croutons if desired.
Amish Chicken & Noodles
One 4 lb. whole chicken
Salt and Pepper
4-6 Tablespoons chicken base (the amount you use will depend on the brand and your taste feel free to use more or less according to your taste)
12 ounces Amish style thin egg noodles
4 Tablespoons butter (optional)
Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a slow cooker and cover it with water. Set the crock pot to high and cook for 5 hours on high or 8-10 on low. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and allow to cool slightly, then debone and shred the chicken.
Carefully pour the broth from the slow cooker through a strainer into a large pot. You need enough liquid in the pot to boil all of the noodles, so if needed, add a cup or two of water.
Add the chicken to the pot, then bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Stir in four tablespoons of the chicken base, dissolve completely, then taste. If the broth doesn’t have a strong enough flavor, add an extra Tablespoon or two to taste.
Add the noodles and boil for 8-10 minutes or until noodles are soft. Stir in the butter, if desired, and allow it to melt. The noodles will be soupy, but they’ll keep slurping up the broth the longer they sit. Plus, the broth makes a great “gravy” for your mashed potatoes. Feel free to strain extra broth off before serving if you wish. Serve noodles over mashed potatoes.