If there’s one thing I never eat, it’s frozen dinners. Neither Lean Cuisine nor Amy’s Kitchen grace my table. It’s not that I’m a fresh food snob. Some of my best friends eat frozen dinners. It’s just that I like to cook even when faced with an empty fridge. Sometimes I roast whatever vegetables I have on hand and eat them with cheese and crackers. Other times I cut up some carrots and make a yogurt dip. It's nearly as easy as nuking a plastic tray.
I do, however, keep a freezer well-stocked with odds and ends that might make a good meal. Throughout the winter, I had chicken stock, leftover pasta dough and boneless chicken breasts in the deep freeze. Are you thinking soup? I thought chicken meatball and noodle soup. This isn't exactly fast food, but the soup comes together pretty quickly if you remember to defrost everything four to six hours in advance.
I work with different ingredient amounts each time I make this, so I can't share exact proportions. Eye it. Bring the stock to a simmer in a big soup pot. In the meantime, make the chicken meatballs. (You could, of course, use pre-ground chicken, turkey, veal, pork or beef if you like. I've got an overstock of chicken breasts.)
Run the chicken breasts through a food processor until ground but not pureed; mix with some bread crumbs, an egg, a few tablespoons of chopped parsley; add a good shake of salt and black groundpepper. I also like to add crumpled feta cheese.
Shape the meat mixture into meatballs that are about 1 inch in diameter, place them on a foil-lined tray and refrigerate. Roll out the pasta dough as described here. Finely chop and then sauté a carrot and a small onion in olive oil in a skillet for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the carrots and onions to the simmering stock.
Add the noodles to the stock and cook about 2 minutes, stirring to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Carefully add the meatballs and simmer until the chicken is just cooked, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Serve the soup in big bowls. I like it topped with chopped parsley, dill or scallions, and sour cream.