You know those $5 baked chickens you buy Costco? For my empty-nester household, where we typically make weekday lunches and dinners for just one or two people, that $5 chicken figures in many meals. We eat it fresh on its own, served with a salad on the side; the breast meat gets sliced for sandwiches at lunch; and we might break up more pieces to throw on an entrée salad that night.
When there’s nothing left but the carcass, still clinging to random bits of meat, I throw the whole thing into a pot and boil to make chicken vegetable soup. While the name lacks a certain marketing panache, the soup itself is delicious, simple and inexpensive to make. After all, you’ve already eaten about $4 worth of that $5 chicken. The rest of your ingredients can come from the garden or from the items you probably forgot about in the vegetable bin. The soup is also healthy and low in fat, carbohydrates and calories.
- A large pot full of water (6-8 cups)
- Chicken carcass
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ onion, diced
- Herbs (Basil, oregano, thyme and/or rosemary (or a mixture of all four
- – whatever you happen to have fresh in your garden or dried in your spice rack.)
- Vegetables (Again, you can ad lib here. What have you got? Some vegetables that are particularly good in soup are carrots, red and yellow bell peppers (steer away from green peppers here), squash, kale, spinach and tomatoes. (In a chicken soup, I’d generally skip broccoli and cauliflower, too, though they can be nice additions to stews and creamed soups.)
Half-fill a large stockpot with water. Sprinkle in the garlic salt, pepper and diced onion. Drop in your chicken carcass, cover and boil. Keep boiling, with a lid slightly cracked open so the liquid doesn’t overflow. Add water as necessary. Your chicken carcass should be fully covered with water…. Boil some more. If you need to go do something, turn the heat down to a simmer, make sure there’s plenty of water in the pot and that the lid allows steam to escape. Keep cooking for 2 to 3 hours. You’ll know the carcass has been sufficiently cooked when the remaining meat easily falls off the bones.
With a slotted spoon, fish out the bones and anything else you’d rather not eat, like the skin and cartilage.
Add vegetables. Cook another five to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but not squishy. (The texture of your veggies will suggest the timing — carrots need a little more time; squash, tomatoes, spinach and kale a little less. Red andyellow peppers will taste great no matter how long you cook them.) Serve and eat.
In the soup pictured above, we used one medium-size tomato; one large yellow squash (spiralized, just to pretend we were eating a fattening food, like pasta); a cup of sliced kale; one-quartercup of fresh oregano and basil. The nutrition facts are forthis combination, too.
Pop Quiz: What do you call left over chicken vegetable soup when you’re sick of eating it? No! It’s not trash!
You call it “stock” and use it to make Whatever’s in the Kitchen Risotto.