Tales of a Leftover Chicken Episode I: Soup to Feel Better About the News
I haven’t been feeling great lately. I have bronchitis. Worse. yesterday morning I woke up to disappointing news from my home country. I’m not going to get into the details here because:
- it’s way too upsetting and I don’t want to ruin your day;
- it’s very political – I’ll wait until we know each other better before showing you my openly bleeding heart;
- if you’re Canadian it’s obvious what I’m upset about so I won’t bore you. If you’re from elsewhere, I hear that the news is spreading and is being taken as a signal of things to come. I certainly hope not *sigh*.
(If you don’t know what I’m talking about and want to find out, here are some links: A Bit of Good but Mostly Bad and Ugly ; Especially upsetting is the very last paragraph of this one.)
Anyhow, regardless of whether you are similarly disappointed or of whether you also have bronchitis, you probably agree that there are days when the comfort of chicken soup is required. Yesterday was that day for me. I therefore begin my recurring series Tales of a Leftover Chicken with:
I make this version of chicken soup when I’m starting with leftover roast chicken: very little meat but lots of bones and skin. There’s usually also a neck bone and some giblets. The soup gets its dark colour and rich flavour from a long-browning of all ingredients prior to the addition of liquid.
- 2 tbsp chicken fat or butter
- a chicken neck bone and giblets
- salt (to taste)
- a chicken carcass and any skin that managed to escape scavenging fingers
- 1/2 of a large onion, peeled or not
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 2 stalks of celery, trimmed of brown ends
- a handful or two of any kind of mushroom, you can leave on tough stems
- a bell pepper (optional)
- 1/4 cup red or white wine (optional)
- assorted herbs (whatever you have, a handful of fresh arugula, parsley or basil, a couple sprigs of rosemary or thyme, a combination of all. You can use dried herbs. I like a bay leaf and 1/2 tsp each of rosemary, thyme and sage)
- 7 whole peppercorns
- coarsely ground black pepper (to taste)
- however much leftover chicken meat you have, roughly chopped
- leftover roasted vegetables (optional)
- 1 cup cooked sliced carrots (optional)
- 1 cup frozen green peas, defrosted (optional)
- 2 cups cooked noodles (definitely not optional)
Warm the chicken fat or butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the neck bone and the giblets. Season liberally with salt (about 1 teaspoon). Stir.
Remove any meat from the chicken carcass, reserve it for later. If it’s too fiddly to start taking the meat off the wings, just toss them whole into the pot. Break up the carcass a bit and add it to the pot. Also add the bits of skin. Stir occasionally while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Cut the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms and pepper (if using) into large chunks. Add them to the pot. Stir. Increase heat to medium high. Allow to cook, scraping the bottom of the pot a few times, until everything is a deep dark brown color, 20-25 minutes. If at any point you are unable to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, add the wine or 1/4 cup water and then try again.
Once it is well-browned add enough water to just cover everything by a bit, about 3 cups. Toss in the herbs and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, partially cover the pot and simmer for at least 30 minutes or for as long as an hour. Taste and add more salt and some ground black pepper if necessary.
Strain the broth into a bowl or pot through a fine mesh sieve.
Add the leftover chicken meat and leftover roasted vegetables, cooked sliced carrots or defrosted peas, if using.
Put 1/2 cup cooked noodles into a soup bowl. Fill bowl with hot tap water. Strain off the water and then ladle on some dark chicken soup. Let me know if it makes you feel any better. It has certainly helped with my bronchitis if not with my dismay.
Get more chicken recipes and info about chicken at Foodista: