Tag Archives: soup

Two in One: Chicken Soup and Chicken Stock

8 Mar

Today I am going to share with you a great way to use 1 bird (chicken) in 2 ways (that’s almost the same as the “kill 2 birds with 1 stone” saying right?).  I decided recently that I wanted to make chicken noodle soup, and figured I might as well make some stock while I’m going to the trouble.  Actually, I ended up making 2 additional meals out of the chicken I cooked for the soup and stock, and I’ll be sharing those recipes later on the blog as well (I made chicken salad, Buffalo style, and also a pasta with chicken, asparagus and a goat cheese cream sauce later in the week).

First I want to discuss the making of stock.  As anyone who cooks knows, chicken stock is one of the most commonly called-for ingredients.  Even when it’s not called for, it’s beneficial to use it whenever a recipe calls for water (rice cooked in chicken stock instead of water, for example, is worlds beyond regular rice in flavor).

Making your own chicken stock is pretty much the easiest thing ever (and that was in the words of my husband).  Additionally, it usually costs next-to-nothing to make it, because the ingredients can be the scraps you have around from other recipes (stray celery/carrots/onions/herbs and leftover chicken bones).  Compared to store-bought stock, homemade stock is also abundantly more flavorful, plus you can control what’s in it (no MSG, not too much salt, no preservatives, etc.).   You can either make it and use it right away, or portion it into small containers and freeze it.  Then, you will always have it on hand when you need it (thaw it on the defrost setting in your microwave for a few minutes, then pop out the ice-block-of-stock into a saucepan and melt it back into liquid over low heat – it takes no time at all.)

Ok, so enough about all the reasons you should try to make your own stock.  Oh wait, one more reason, you will feel like a real chef and can impress all your friends, when secretly all you did was throw a bunch of bones and vegetables in a pot and left it to boil for several hours.  :-D

Since I was planning to make chicken noodle soup, I thought I would save myself some time and effort later in the week, and cook a whole bunch of chicken at once.  The basis of this post is that you can make a big pot of chicken stock, using one or more chickens, and then transform the broth into soup, and the chicken into other meals.  Classically, you don’t need actual chicken meat to make stock, but I used it in this case so that I could take that chicken meat and use it for recipes later in the week (plus that helped make the stock extra flavorful).  Half the stock I made went into my freezer to use other times, and half of it got turned into the broth for soup.

So without further ado….

How to Make Chicken Stock

There are no hard rules or recipes to follow for making chicken stock.  With all of the following ingredients, you don’t even need to peel them (even the onions! Just leave the skin on); just cut each ingredient in halves or quarters and then throw them in the pot.  There are several ingredients you definitely want to include if you can, such as:

  • 1-2 Onions (white/yellow)
  • 2-4 Carrots
  • 2-4 Celery stalks,
  • Whole peppercorns (~1 tablespoon) – whole because then you can strain them out
  • Fresh herbs – throw them in as whole sprigs/bunches – for example, parsley, thyme, tarragon, or whatever you have on hand

…If you have more celery and carrots and herbs on hand, go ahead and throw them in – it definitely won’t hurt!  Other than that, some nice additions for some more flavor are:

  • Leeks (very well cleaned)
  • Garlic (just smash the cloves, no need to peel)
  • Salt (to taste)

Plus, obviously, one of the following:

  • Whole, raw chicken (split in two so it cooks quicker)
  • Raw, bone-in chicken parts (thighs, breasts, wings, etc)
  • Leftover chicken bones

To make the stock, throw all the roughly chopped vegetables in the pot (there will be more than shown below):

Add your chicken bones or chicken meat.

Then fill the pot up with water. Use at least 10 cups, and make sure all of the ingredients are covered with water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 3 hours, or as long as possible, loosely covered so you don’t lose too much water to evaporation.   If using whole chicken or chicken pieces, remove them after 45-60 minutes (for a whole chicken, use the upper end of that range), and separate the meat from the fat and bones.  Discard the fat, set the meat aside, and return the bones to the pot for the remaining simmering time.

Using tongs or a skimmer (one of my favorite kitchen tools), remove the chicken bones and vegetables.

Then, strain the hot stock throw a fine mesh strainer.  Please be careful at this step, as the stock is beyond HOT and the steam alone can burn you!

Let the stock sit to allow the fat to separate, then skim it off using a spoon.  As you can see in this picture, the fat floats on the surface and the difference in color will help show what needs to be removed.

Portion the stock into small containers and allow it to cool at room temperature temporarily before refrigerating or freezing (allowing the stock to cool to 140°F before refrigerating is safe because 140 is still hotter than “the food danger zone“. Cooling on the counter first also helps you avoid raising the temperature inside your refrigerator or freezer unsafely, which can happen if you put a large volume of very hot soup or stock right in the fridge).

Chicken Noodle Soup is a no-brainer:

Follow the directions above to make your stock, using whole chicken or bone-in chicken pieces.  Cook the chicken in the stock until cooked through, as indicated above, 45-60 minutes. Remove the chicken and separate the fat from the meat and bones.  Return the bones to the pot, discard the fat, and shred the meat.  Refrigerate the shredded chicken until ready to use.

Continue to simmer your stock for 2-4 hours, or as time allows.

Meanwhile, dice:

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 small yellow onion

When the stock is done simmering, strain as directed above, removing the vegetables and bones.  Be very careful, it is very hot!

Return the strained stock to the pot on the stove, and return to a simmer.  Add the diced vegetables and:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves if that’s all you have)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric (for color)

Simmer for ~10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  While the stock is simmering rapidly, add 16 ounces of pasta noodles and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes more.

Then, add the cooked chicken to heat through and serve!

When I made this, I made 2 huge pots full of stock/soup, using 2 chickens.  That meant that I had plenty of leftover cooked chicken for recipes later in the week, like Buffalo-style chicken salad for sandwiches and pasta with goat cheese, asparagus and chicken (which I will be sharing on the blog next week!)  The amount of effort and time and money it takes to make a second pot or bigger batch or stock/soup is minimal, so it really is worth it.  Having leftover cooked, shredded chicken around is never a bad thing, since the uses of it are limitless (think tacos, pasta, enchiladas, pizza, quesedillas, etc).

Cream of Broccoli Soup

23 Feb

Of all puréed vegetable soups, I think cream of broccoli is my favorite.  Even if it makes my house smell funny.

It’s especially irresistible when it topped with copious amounts of cheddar cheese… mmm.

When developing the recipe, I wanted the soup to be creamy, but not overly fat-laden and calorie-dense.  I wanted the recipe to be delicious, but not to undo all the “good” from eating lots of broccoli.  One thing you’ll notice is that I included 1 white potato in the recipe, which once cooked down, helps thicken the soup with all its starchiness.  This helped me minimize the amount of half and half to only 1/2 a cup!  But the texture is still rich and creamy (Ok, I’m sure the cheese helps too, but I couldn’t eliminate that!).   If you’re not worried about calories, feel free to add more cream or cheese or butter or maybe even some bacon :-D

There are a few things I’ll point out about the recipe in advance, since I’m feeling wordy today.

  • When I added the broccoli, I also added 1 cup water because I thought it needed a little more liquid to steam and so that it would be thin enough to puree, but you could also start with 4 cups of stock in the beginning and skip the water (4 cups is usually the size of those store-bought containers anyway).
  • Just roughly chop the vegetables since they will end up puréed anyway (though you do want them to be roughly the same size so they cook at the same rate).  The smaller you cut the potato, the faster it will cook, so if you want to hurry this recipe up, keep things diced small.
  • The list below looks like a long list of ingredients, but you probably already have most of them on hand (and the others are inexpensive).  Don’t go out and buy a whole head of celery for the recipe (unless you want to) if it seems like too much – just make do with what you’ve got!  You could even substitute milk for the half and half if you don’t want to buy that, though you may want to thicken it slightly with a roux (melt butter and mix with an equal part flour, cook for a minute, then add the milk and warm until thickened).
  •  You can either purée the soup in a blender or drastically improve your quality of living by investing in an immersion blender :), like this, for only around $30 (seeing all those cute colors makes me want another one haha).  If using a normal blender (or food processor), make sure to not to fill it more than half full and definitely allow the steam to escape (take the extra piece out of the center of the lid and top with a dish towel).
  • The reason I puréed the soup twice was because I wanted some chunks of broccoli left, but not any chunks of potato or onion or celery, etc.  If it seems like too much of a hassle (with an immersion blender it’s not at all, but with a normal blender it could be labor intensive), or if you prefer it very smooth and creamy, you could add the broccoli at the same time you add the potato and simmer it all together, then puree.

I calculated the nutrition facts for this soup, in each large serving (that is, if you assume you get 6 big servings out of this pot of soup), there are ~218 calories, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein (not counting additional cheese for topping).  Not too shabby (especially compared to other broccoli cheddar soups I’ve seen that have over 500 calories in a serving!).  Plus each bowl had almost 100% of your daily value of Vitamin A and 200% of your Vitamin C!  Woot woot.

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar

Yield: 6 large servings Time: 50 minutes total (including at least 30 inactive)

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups stock or broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (depending how much of a kick you want)
  • 1 white potato, peeled and diced
  • 8 cups broccoli, roughly chopped (this was about 6 crowns for me)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for serving)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Salt and pepper
  • Real bacon bits (for topping, if desired)

Melt butter over medium heat in a large soup pot, and sauté celery, onion and carrot until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

Add broth, bay leaves, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper and diced potato.  Simmer, lightly covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Discard the bay leaves and puree until smooth (either in a blender or with an immersion blender – see above).

Add in broccoli and 1 cup of water, and simmer (covered) 20 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.  Puree again, but not too much, leaving some chunks of broccoli (if desired).

Stir in cheese and half and half, until melted and combined.

Serve with more cheese on top … and possibly with bacon bits if you’re feeling indulgent ;-)

Mom’s Chili

25 Jan

Nothing says comfort food like a hot bowl of chili.  I definitely start craving it as soon as winter is in the air.  I love my Mom’s chili recipe because it’s just about the easiest thing to make – a true one pot wonder.  Plus, it’s basically just a jumping off point – feel free to adjust seasonings and ingredients – and I promise it will be delicious no matter what.   And while you’re at it, make a double (or triple!) batch and freeze it in individual containers for a quick dinner all winter long!

Mom’s Chili

  • 1.25 lb ground beef (or ground turkey, or half and half)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can chili or kidney beans (or a mix)
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes

Optional additions:

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • Frozen or canned corn

Serve with any or all of the following toppings:

  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Avocado slices
  • Tortilla chips
  • Cilantro
  • Shredded cheese

In a large stockpot, brown the meat until cooked through.  Drain out the excess fat and set the meat aside.  Add the onion to the pot and cook until softened, over medium heat.  Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds.  Add back the meat to the pan plus all other ingredients.  Simmer for a few hours, 1 at least, but the more the merrier!  It truly gets better and better the longer it cooks.   Last time I made it, it cooked for about 4 hours and it turned out fabulous.

Top with desired toppings and dig in!  Thanks Mom!

Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous

17 Jan

Soup is one of my favorite meals to cook, even on a weeknight.  Soups like this one come together quickly, are comforting and satisfying, yet are usually relatively healthy, since you don’t need to add much fat.    This one is fresh, yet flavorful, and I added lots of Israeli couscous (a very small, round pasta – usually found in the rice section) because I love the texture it adds.  I also added some baby spinach to feel like I really got enough vegetables in this one-bowl meal.

Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous

Yield: 4-6 servings, Time: 30 min

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 14 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1-1.5 cups Israeli couscous (depending how much pasta you like)
  • 2 mint sprigs, chopped (or a few pinches of dried mint)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the oil in a large pot, add the onions and carrots and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add half the garlic and cook about 1 minute (don’t let it burn!).  Add the tomatoes, stock, couscous, and all the herbs and seasonings.

Bring the soup to a boil, add the remaining garlic, and reduce heat to simmer gentle for 10-12 minutes until couscous is tender.   Add in the baby spinach and let it wilt.  Serve piping hot, topped with parmesan cheese and more mint and cilantro, if desired.