Easy Leftover Chicken Soup

They say that chicken soup cures all that ails you. Obviously this isn’t accurate. Heartbreak, cancer and mother-in-laws still seem impervious to this wonder drug, but it is true that it can make you feel better about a lot of stuff. If you already have a  cooked chicken carcass for whatever reason, then not only is it pennies to make, but a low effort way to stretch a roast chicken to an extra meal. I think this is fairly important, especially given the price of quality free range or organic chicken.

I don’t often make my own stock, in all honesty. There is nothing particularly difficult about stock making, but having the time and the raw materials to hand at the same time is something a bit beyond me. You can get perfectly good stock these days in little bottles, so the incentive is not often there. But for this soup, there is no reason not to. This is not, though, a recipe for a perfectly clear amber stock, suitable for sauces and demi-glace, but rather a fairly lax way to get a tasty soup out of existing ingredients. You will only be cooking the stock for an hour or so, and I am not going to start suggesting skimming, or anything of that nature. There are other recipes out there for that.

For the stock base:

  • 1 cooked chicken carcass, mostly picked of meat
  • 1 carrot, cut into three
  • 1 leek, cut into three
  • 1 celery stick, cut into three
  • few of pepper corns
  • bayleaf, thyme leaves (if you have them)
  • pinch of salt
  • cold water to just cover

Put all the ingredients into a pot, and bring to a simmer slowly. Simmer for an hour, do not boil. Leave to cool, and then strain through a fine sieve.

For the soup:

  • anything you like, really. I made my soup tonight with a couple hundred grams of gnocchi, 50g cooked chicken and some parsley, but some other nice things to add might be:
  • cabbage or chinese leaves
  • carrots
  • mushrooms
  • beans
  • rice or pasta
  • any herbs
  • cooked ham or bacon
  • peas, sweetcorn
  • splash of cream

If using dried pasta or rice then heat the soup to a gentle boil and add these, allowing plenty of time for them to cook before adding the other ingredients. Gnocchi is good because it cooks in less than three minutes – about the same time as it takes to heat through cooked chicken, peas or sweetcorn. Add the remainder of ingredients for however long it takes to cook them usually.

Alternatively, for a soup with a bit more body you can sweat off a chopped onion and a couple of cloves of garlic in a pan before adding veg like parsnips and potatoes and a dash of white wine before adding the stock. Up to you. Anything cooked should go in in the very last few minutes.

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