As promised a few days ago, here’s how I make my chicken soup.
You should know by now that I’m evangelical about Rubber Chicken, so-called because you stretch the chicken as far as it’ll go. I get 7 meals (4 main meals, 3 lunches) out of one chicken. My last chicken cost me £2.17, so that’s 31p per meal.
Two of those seven meals involve chicken soup. And making chicken soup involves making chicken stock.
I really do think it’s a waste of a good chicken not to use the bones and the bits to make a stock for soup.
Lots of recipes will tell you to boil the chicken bones up with veggies – celery, carrots, onions. What a waste of good veg if you’re going to discard them with the chicken carcass (and frankly, after they’ve been boiling for an hour or more they’re not much use for anything else).
I prefer to boil up the bones on their own, then strain the broth and then add the veg. That way you get all the taste and the goodness of the veg, because you’re actually eating it. And nothing edible gets chucked out.
This is what I do –
Once I’ve had my lovely big chicken dinner, and then used the leftover meat to make a curry or a pasta dish (enough to eat half and freeze half), and two lots of lunches, the chicken carcass is looking a bit sorry for itself.
I put a big pan on the hob, about half-filled with water, and while it’s coming to the boil I pick over the bones. It’s a messy job, but I think it’s worth the effort. I pick off all the remaining meat and put it in a bowl, and everything – everything – else goes into the pan of water.
The best bit is scraping the last remnants off the plate – nothing wasted.
Once it’s all come to the boil, I cover it and let it simmer for at least an hour.
I then strain the resulting stock into a bowl.
You can use it straight away, or you can refrigerate it (use it within three days) or freeze it. Once it’s cold, a layer of fat will form on the top which you can scrape off and either use it for cooking with or discard it if you’re counting calories.
So – now you’ve got your stock, which is the basis for pretty much any soup you care to name. Or use it as the base for a risotto – I do that sometimes, when I have the time.
You can either follow a recipe, or you can do what I do and just make it up as you go along. Variety is the spice of life – and I certainly never have the same soup twice!
I usually add lentils or potatoes to give it some bulk. And then any or all of the following – onions, carrots, swede, the chicken meat that I just picked off, any other veg that needs using up, and some herbs or spices. It’s a great way of using up leftovers.
Then I just boil it until everything is cooked. It really is that simple, and that quick.
With some chunks of bread it makes a meal in itself.
I always make more than I need for one meal, and then for the second meal I use a stick blender to make a smooth soup. Blending it changes the taste as well as the texture – so it doesn’t feel like I’m having the same meal twice!!
It’s soul food. It’s warming, filling, comforting and tasty!! It smells wonderful. Oh, and it’s cheap.
Cheaper than chips!!
(This is true – my local chippy charges £1.85 for a portion of chips. I reckon even taking the cost of the cooking into account, the soup only costs 60/70p to make – and that’s for a main meal and a lunch!!)
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