One Chicken, Two Meals

 Posted by on October 12, 2011  Add comments  Tagged with: ,
Oct 122011

I have three main kitchen rules:

1) Cook healthy, wholesome food from scratch, whenever possible.
2) Limit prepackaged convenience foods.
3) Waste nothing. (Organization is key!)

The third rule is very important in terms of our overall financial picture, because food is one of the biggest budget items for us, and for most families.

Roast chicken is a common Sunday dinner at our house. I buy whole chickens when they’re very inexpensive (usually between 50 and 60 cents per pound), and freeze them. I rub them with my roast chicken seasoning, and roast them breast side up, at 425 degrees, for about 1 1/2 hours (for a 3 to 4-pounder).

My roast chicken seasoning is the same blend of herbs and spices that I use for my roasted bone-in chicken breasts. Whenever I use up a spice from the Amish grocery, I wash out the empty container and save it for my homemade mixes and spice blends.

I usually serve roast chicken with seasoned, whole grain brown, or wild and brown rice blend, vegetables (usually green beans or roasted asparagus), and fresh bread. After dinner, I remove as much of the remaining meat from the chicken carcass as I can, chop it, and put it in a sealed container in the fridge. Then I start preparations for the next night’s meal.

I put the chicken carcass in my slow cooker, including the skin. I then add “aromatics,” which can be many things, but in my kitchen they’re carrots, onions, celery, and sometimes garlic. Here’s a tip – when you use these vegetables in other recipes, save your carrot peels, onion skins, and celery tops in a Ziploc bag in your freezer. When you’re ready to make stock, your aromatics are ready and waiting, and nothing is wasted.

I then add enough cold water to cover the chicken carcass, and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, because this helps draw out the nutrients from the bones. I do not add seasonings at this point.

I cook this mixture on low heat overnight, and in the morning, it looks like this:

I strain the stock with a fine strainer, and remove any little bits of meat left on the bones. This is easy to do because the long, slow cooking makes the meat very tender. I add these bits to the strained stock, and pour it back into the slow cooker. Now it’s time to make soup!

This is my basic chicken soup recipe:

Leftover chopped chicken pieces. I usually have 1 to 1 1/2 cups of diced meat.
8 cups liquid. Measure your finished stock before pouring it into the slow cooker, and if needed, add enough water to make 8 cups.
1 teaspoon chicken broth powder or boullion for each cup of added water
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste, depending on how salty your chicken stock is
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 small onion, chopped. (When making soup, I do a rough chop because I like larger pieces of onion).
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
6 ounces (2 cups) medium egg noodles

Cover and cook all ingredients except noodles on low for 5 to 6 hours.

Remove bay leaf. Add noodles and continue cooking until just al dente (about 1/2 hour). Don’t overcook, or they will turn to mush! You can also cook the noodles separately and add them just before serving. Serve the finished soup with green salad and fresh bread.

If you don’t want to make soup right away, you can also freeze your chicken stock in a freezer bag or plastic container.

This homemade soup is in keeping with all of my kitchen rules – it’s flavorful and nutritious, and nothing is wasted. Canned soup can’t even hold a candle to it.