Sipping once, Sipping twice, Sipping chicken soup with rice.
When my children were young I used to read them the lovely Maurice Sendak book, Chicken Soup with Rice, partly out of allegiance to my beloved, late mother-in-law, Angela and her Jewish heritage. It is a book of months with charming illustrations and a chorus that even the youngest can join in. Strangely enough, for a Jewish grandmother, Angela didn’t actually make chicken soup that I remember. Her duck with apricots was second to none, her salt beef was excellent and her wurstl with eggs as filling and fattening as you could wish but the iconic panacea of chicken soup never figured. So today’s recipe is not what you’d call kosher although for me it ticks many of the boxes.
It is comforting, easily digestible, cheap and home-made. Specifically it is a way of getting the absolute maximum out of your roast chicken once the meat has gone and that satisfies my need to wring the most value I can out of animals in the food chain. It is also a recipe that does not require any special shopping providing you have in your fridge an onion, some potatoes and a carrot or two. In common with most foods that are nutritious and extremely cheap, it is not a quick fix but it isn’t difficult or complicated and it freezes well once it’s made. What is more satisfying than being able to feed yourself healthily and deliciously on a few root vegetables and a chicken carcass that would otherwise go in the bin? If you have a mother-in-law to impress, this recipe is foolproof displaying, as it does, your frugality, ingenuity and creativity in one tasty bowlful. A couple of bowlfuls without bread make a slimming lunch. With good bread it makes a feast.
I promised a vegetarian version of every recipe and of course chicken soup ain’t chicken soup without the chicken. However you can make a very good vegetable soup by roasting the onions first and then using the same recipe minus the chicken. For either version you will need Marigold vegetable stock powder (organic, low-salt or the original) and if by any remote chance you haven’t already converted to this then I urge you to do so now. Keep a drum of this on your shelf to turn any selection of vegetables and onions into excellent soup. You can also add a pinch of it to transform your white sauce into a bechamel.
Home-made Chicken Soup
1. Pay as much for your chicken as you can afford and when you’ve finished with it pop it into a large pan with an onion (skinned) and as many potatoes and carrots (no need to peel) as you can cram in around the carcass. You can add every bit of chicken including the nasty bits you wouldn’t eat. It’s all good for making the soup. Any other vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, greens)* are welcome additions but potatoes and carrots are your starting point. Fill the pan with cold water leaving a sensible amount of space at the top so that it doesn’t boil over. If you haven’t chosen a big enough pan, transfer the ingredients to a larger one now before they are hot!
* a word of caution about broccoli. It has a surprisingly powerful flavour so if you add it to your vegetable soup it will in essence turn out a broccoli soup.
2. Bring to the boil with a lid on and then remove or tilt the lid, turn down the heat and simmer gently for about an hour.
3. Leave to cool with the lid on.
4. Pour off the stock into a jug or bowl that will fit into your fridge.
5. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl to go in the fridge.
6. Now put the chicken carcass on a chopping board and using your fingers take every edible scrap of meat off it and dice finely. Transfer to a saucer or dish and cover with cling film. Dispose of the bones, skin and anything you wouldn’t want to put in your mouth.
7. Put all three items, vegetables, stock and chicken, in their separate containers into the fridge overnight.
8. Next day, the fat will have solidified on top of the stock and you can remove it easily. (You can keep it for dumplings or roast potatoes if there’s enough.)
9. Now blitz the vegetables and the stock in a liquidiser (on slowest setting) or mill by hand. I like it when the vegetables are left reasonably coarse.
10. Reunite the stock and the vegetables in a large clean pan and heat before tasting and adjusting the seasoning using the Marigold stock powder (or salt and pepper). Stir through the diced chicken just before eating so that it doesn’t acquire that unpleasant boiled texture. Fresh herbs finely chopped are a great addition if you have some lurking around.
You can make a traditional Jewish style chicken soup by leaving out the vegetables with the exception of the onions and making sure you don’t boil the carcass for hours. (That makes the stock cloudy). Simmer for an hour and then strain the stock into a clean pan. Now you can either resort to stock powder or reduce the stock you have by continuing to boil off the liquid until it tastes how you want it to. You can now add a little white rice and cook it in the stock.
Alternatively you can simply keep the stock or freeze it for use in risottos or soup another day.