Saturday, January 29, 2011

Recipe : Chicken Noodle Soup

Mmmmm..... is there anything better than homemade chicken noodle soup on a snowy day?  Especially when there is leftover chicken in the fridge just calling your name, and you actually remembered to boil yesterday's leftovers for broth?  :-)   Keep reading for a super-cheap meal for the day after chicken... I used a 74-cent bag of noodles, a 50-cent carton of broth, leftover chicken, and veggies I already had on hand.  Sweet :)  Makes about 6 adult servings.

So.  You've just had a yummy meal of chicken.  Like, say maybe you tried yesterday's recipe for oven-roasted chicken.   Now you've got bones and skin and scraps all over the place.  What to do?  I'll tell you what to do!  You grab a big pot.  You dump it all in there.  If you're super-frugal I suppose you'd dump it ALL in there.  I personally do draw the line at individual plates.  If someone's fork has been in their mouth and in a piece of chicken, I don't use those parts.  But the parts that I shredded for the kids?  Absolutely.  That one lonely leg left over on the baking pan?  Yup.  Plus any bits that I can scrape off said baking pan.  All into the pot.  Including bones.  And skin.  Must have the skin, since it's got all the yummy flavor from baking but no one wants to eat it.  It's great for seasoning the broth.   But first, do go through and remove the useful bits of meat, put them on a plate and refrigerate.  You'll need them tomorrow.   Now chop up a carrot and a couple of celery stalks and an onion and throw them in the pot as well.  Cover it all with water.  Add a tablespoon of vinegar - apparently this leaches calcium out of the bones and makes the broth even better for you.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for a long time while you're watching TV with a nice full chicken-dinner tummy.  Pour through a colander, collecting the liquid in a bowl but keeping all the junk out of it.  Now, if you want to, you CAN go through the mess and pick out any scrap pieces of meat.  Myself, I don't bother, because what's in there is hopelessly flavorless and has a lousy texture.  Taste it if you don't believe me.   Refrigerate the bowl of broth overnight - the fat will rise to the top and harden, making it easier to reduce the fat content of your soup.   The mess in the colander?  In case you don't know better, do not feed it to your dog. Let it cool, then throw it out or compost it.

Fast forward to the next day, about an hour before supper.

Get out the bowl of broth, the plate of chicken, four large carrots, three stalks of celery, one onion, a bag of rotini or egg noodles, salt and pepper.  Depending how much broth you have and how strong its flavor is, you may also want a carton of commercial chicken broth or a couple of cubes of bouillon powder to enhance the taste.

Pour the broth into a large pot.  Heat over medium heat while you prep the vegetables.  Dice the onion and add to the pot - use 1/2 to 1 whole onion, depending on your personal tastes.  Peel the carrots and slice fairly thin, about 1/8 inch.  Wash and trim the celery and slice between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.  Add to the pot.  Cut the chicken into small pieces and add to the pot.  

Judge the amount of broth you have and whether there will be enough once it has cooked down a bit and you have added the noodles, and if necessary, top it up with commercial broth.  I personally like the Campbells brand, both the regular and the reduced-sodium, in the tetra pack.  If you don't need more liquid but do need more flavor, add bouillon.  

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.  Cook til the vegetables are barely tender.  Add the noodles.  Cook until noodles are done.   Serve hot with fresh biscuits!  I made my usual recipe but this time I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups white.  It took a bit of fiddling and a little extra liquid, and they were a bit more dense rather than light & fluffy, but still very good.  And great for sopping up soup with.  :-)

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