What’s in the freezer?
How do you play what’s in the freezer? Well, simple enough. Look in the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and make food from what’s there. It can be a challenge, but fortunately I had a chicken breast, which is almost all you need for chicken soup.
Chicken soup from scratch is super easy, and cheap. It takes very little chicken, and whatever vegetables you have laying around. I had one chicken breast on the bone (which is cheaper than de-boned) which I had skinned myself (which also makes it cheaper). The basic process to de-bone chicken is very easy:
Put the chicken piece(s) in a pot with enough water to cover them. (This is a good opportunity to cook a bunch of chicken at once, to use later in the week and save you time). You can use any parts of the chicken for this, or even other kinds of meat. Add some salt, and start the pot boiling. Go do something entertaining for a while (read this blog, for example!). Test the chicken by pulling at it with a fork. If the meat pulls away from the bones easily, you’re done. It should be white all the way through.
Lift out the chicken and put it on a plate to cool. Don’t pour out your water. This is the perfect start for your soup broth. Start adding whatever ingredients you want, starting with those that take the longest to cook. I wanted some brown rice in mine, and that has to boil for about 45 minutes. I threw in a handful of rice, kept the water boiling and started chopping vegetables. To mine I added carrots, a potato, onion, a can of corn, and some frozen peas. Usually there would be celery in there also, but I was out, so meh. Chopped spinach, or any kind of greens are really good in this also.
While the other stuff is cooking, it’s back to the chicken. Tear big chunks off the bones so it will cool faster. I cut the big chunks into smaller pieces, then use my fingers to shred the chicken into tiny bits. Breast meat can be very dry, so I like smaller pieces that can reabsorb some of the broth.
Add as much of the chicken as you plan to use back into the soup. I put half in my soup, and half is for Chicken Spaghetti tonight, which I will post later. When the soup is almost done (meaning the rice and veggies are almost cooked) is a good time to add pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa, or textured vegetable protein, or anything that doesn’t take long to cook. I added about a 1/4 cup of refried beans to thicken the broth, and add a nice smoky flavor.
Seasonings: I like to use powered (not cubed) chicken bullion. That way I can add as much as I want and not wait for it to dissolve. I also add garlic salt, chili powder, and ground cumin. Celery salt is good with chicken broth too, but make sure not to over-salt.
Using this same basic recipe concept, you can use beef short ribs, or any tough cuts of meat, or meat on the bone. I would use beef broth for other meats though.
You can easily turn this into chicken and dumplings. Dumplings are a pain to make so I take the easy way out: buy a can of biscuits (like pillsbury or whatever off-brand is good) and tear a couple into small pieces, and drop into your broth. Do this at the very end when everything is basically done, and make sure the soup is boiling. Cooking for just me and hubby, I usually cook half the biscuits in the oven for breakfast the next day, and only put half into the pot of soup. Don’t get the biscuits that have giant chunks of fake butter in them. You will end up with and orange skin of fat over your whole pot of soup.
More chicken recipes to come, since I bought all that chicken Saturday for my sister in law. So far I still have a pound and a half to use, so I hope you like chicken! The original chicken post is my tortilla chip chicken.