Another thing I keep bragging about is home-made chicken stock with leftover bones of rotisserie chicken.
Buy and “separate” a fully cooked rotisserie chicken for ~$5-8. Make a meal out of the “bulk” of the meat, pull all the meat you can off the bones and reserve what you don’t eat to put in a salad, make chicken enchiladas, etc. Now that you’ve eaten a good healthy meal using the chicken, if you’d like to use the rest of it continue onwards…
Pull off all the skin / bones / wings and throw it back in the plastic container the chicken came in and keep it in your freezer.
Look in the fridge for all your floppy, shriveled vegetables, ends-of-onions, tops of carrots, etc. Any type of (NON-MOLDY) vegetable junk you’d normally compost, throw those in the freezer too with the chicken bones (I use the same container).
Next weekend you’re going to be in the house all day, here’s how you make chicken stock / chicken tortilla / chicken noodle soup:
- Reserved (cooked) chicken bones (frozen is OK)
- Reserved vegetable matter (frozen is OK)
- 2-3 whole peppercorns
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Chunked onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
In a large pot, throw everything into it such that you cover with 1-2 inches of water.
Bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer for ~3-4 hours (until liquid reduces by 30-50%).
Here’s the tricky part… strain boiled chicken-juices into a separate container (very large bowl, other large pot), usually using regular colander / strainer.
Strain back into original pot usually through a finer filter (ie: fine mesh strainer).
You now have chicken stock. If you’re not using it right away, freeze into ice-cube trays for use later. To make soup, continue boldly onwards…
So now you’ve got a big ‘ol pot of chicken stock. It should smell pretty delicious. To make chicken soup you’ll need:
- chicken stock (from above, approximately half the pot full)
- small bits of reserved chicken (from original rotisserie)
- random chopped vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, corn, can be frozen / canned)
- bay leaf
- salt, pepper (to taste)
- canned diced tomatoes (rotel or “plain”)
- tomato sauce
- more tomato-flavored things
- 2 cups egg-noodles (optional)
- tortilla chips (optional)
- non-instant rice (optional)
- more chicken (optional)
Into the stock, add tomato, sauces, bay leaves, etc. and bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
While bringing to boil, chop “good” vegetables. If fresh, add early so they can soften. If frozen add a bit later as usually they’re kindof pre-cooked. If canned add very late so they don’t turn mushy.
For vegetables, thicker / harder ones should go in first (ie: carrots), softer ones (ie: celery / corn) should go in last as they cook and soften quicker.
Overall you’re boiling / simmering vegetables for ~30 minutes in total (carrots longer / earlier, corn shorter / later).
Add a little bit of pepper and salt slowly while simmering to your preferred taste, maybe simmering 3-4 minutes between tastings and stirring.
To make chicken noodle soup, at the very end, ~5-10 minutes before the vegetables are softened (according to cooking time on noodle package), add the egg-noodles. (optional). The egg noodles will actually suck up a lot of the liquid overnight, so make sure the soup is extra ~watery~ if you’re going to use the noodles.
To make chicken tortilla soup, add in a cup of rice fairly early with the vegetables and simmer until it softens.
Or, just serve as is, and add tortilla chips, fresh onion, dollop of cream, shredded cheese, more chicken, whatever floats your boat.
The more you make this, the better you’ll get an understanding of what flavors you like and the process you go through. It can be very simple, and might never turn out the same way twice. I use it as an excuse to get rid of and use up almost any type of old vegetables (in the stock part) and finish off any good vegetables you might have (for the soup part). You’ll usually end up with junky vegetables left over, which make great fodder to throw in the freezer for the next time you make stock. It’s an infinite, extremely tasty cycle.