So, you’ve roasted a chicken for dinner. You’ve carved the breasts and removed the drumsticks and now you’re left with a mound of bones, skin, and some other inedible remnants. But there’s also a lot of good, tasty chicken hanging around too. Well, I’m almost positive that best part of cooking a roasted chicken, is using the leftovers for chicken soup! Doesn’t a big, hot bowl of fresh chicken soup sound great right about now??
Here’s a little guide on how to turn that leftover roasted chicken carcass into a pot of flavorful chicken soup. It’s not a specified recipe, but rather a basic process, which you can customize to your tastes. By the way, you can use this same process with your turkey carcass after Thanksgiving!
Here’s what you do:
Step 1: Take the whole carcass mess, throw it in a big pot, and fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the water to a gentle boil. Cover and let it simmer for a few hours. You can get it started right after you carve the pieces you’ll be serving for dinner that night!
Step 2: Give the chicken about 3 hours to simmer. Then, set a colander over a large container. Pour the chicken and broth through the colander. Save everything. Allow the chicken parts and broth to cool. Then, cover the container of broth and refrigerate. Place the chicken parts in a ziploc bag and refrigerate to cool. *If you haven’t prepared to make the soup, you can complete this step right away, then refrigerate overnight and pick up the remaining ingredients the next day!
Step 3: When the soup has thoroughly cooled (the next day), use a spoon to remove the excess fat, which will have risen to the top. Reheat the remaining broth, which will probably have thickened into a gelatin-like consistency.
Step 4: Add a bunch of rough chopped vegetables to the broth; celery, carrots, and onions. Don’t worry about cutting them nicely. They will be discarded after we’ve used them to add another delicious layer of flavor to the broth. These are your aromatics or mirepoix (pronounced meera-pwa). Simmer the broth with the vegetables for about an hour in a covered saucepan.
Step 5: While the broth is simmering with the vegetables, pick through that mess of chicken, which you strained the night before. Find and save any good bits of chicken. Discard the remaining bones, skin, and inedible parts. Also, cut up any leftover chicken breast or drumstick meat.
Step 6: Nicely chop the vegetables you’d like in your soup. I’m not a big fan of tons of mushy veggies in my soup, so I only added a handful of sliced carrots. But, celery, leeks, onions, or tomatoes would all be good additions. Cut these veggies small and even, since they will be remaining in your soup.
Step 7: After the rough-chopped veggies have simmered for about an hour, strain and discard the vegetables. Return the hot broth to the saucepan. If too much water has reduced during the simmering, add a little more. Taste your broth. It should have a rich, delicious flavor, but will be in need of salt and pepper. So, season with salt and pepper, as desired. I also like to add a dash or two of hot sauce. *If your soup tastes too watery, try simmering it without a lid for a little while to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavors.
Step 8: Add the chopped chicken and your nicely chopped veggies. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, until your veggies are tender, but not mushy.
Step 9: Prepare some rice or pasta to serve with your soup. I prefer Orzo pasta.
Step 10: Serve a big ladle of hot, yummy soup over your rice, noodles, or pasta. Enjoy!
*Store the soup separately from the rice or pasta. If you mix them together, the rice or pasta will drink up the broth. Chicken soup freezes great!
**If you want to make chicken soup from an uncooked chicken, there’s no need to roast it first. Just remove the giblets, rinse the chicken, and throw it in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for a three to four hours in a covered saucepan. Then, proceed from Step 3.