Chicken Noodle Soup

I can no longer bear to throw away a chicken carcass because I’ve discovered that the carcass is like hidden gold; you just need a little work and you get what is perhaps the best part of that chicken: stock.

I’m not going to post on it here, but there are tons of health benefits to eating homemade chicken stock (“stock” is made with the bones, while “broth” is made with just meat — the cooking process with the bones gives you all sorts of good minerals and other healthy stuff — google something like “chicken stock health” to learn more).  I have a great basic recipe that comes from my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, but there a gazillion good recipes available online.  Also, if you consider that a quart of chicken stock generally costs at least $1.50 to $2, it’s a lot cheaper since stock made from a chicken you were eating anyway is basically free!  (I make most of my stock from Costco rotisserie chickens; I get about 2 quarts from a batch, which I freeze in 4 cup portions.)

I had a chicken carcass with quite a bit of meat left on it from several days after Titus was born.  We didn’t eat all of it and I didn’t have the energy to do anything with it right away, so I just stuck the whole thing in the freezer in a ziploc bag.  Yesterday I pulled it out and threw it in the crockpot with a chopped up onion, some celery leaves, a couple of chopped carrots, a sprinkling of peppercorns, and a couple dashes of thyme, garlic powder and sage (I didn’t have the ingredients to make a good stock, so I just winged it.  “Winged” it?  “Wung” it?  I think “winged” sounds better).  I covered it all with water and let it simmer for a few hours. Then I pulled out the carcass and picked the meat off, and then returned the bones to the pot to simmer for a few more hours.

In the meantime, I used this recipe to make some whole wheat noodles.  You could totally use store bought noodles, but I was feeling ambitious.  In the future I’d cut the recipe in half unless you want a REALLY noodly soup; I made pasta out of about half of the dough.  About 20 minutes before we were ready to eat, I strained the stock, added the chicken and half of an onion, a couple of chopped carrots and some frozen peas.  You could add whatever veggies you wanted; if I’m making wild rice chicken soup instead of noodle soup, I often add some zucchini or green beans.  Yesterday my choices were dictated by what I had on hand.  Just before serving, I added the noodles and let them boil for about 5 minutes.

So, you’re not getting a recipe today, but a general direction — that’s actually one of the beautiful things about soup: once you get down the basic idea and have a goal, you just throw together whatever works, and whatever you have on hand.  And then you eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, which I’m about to do!

UPDATE:  Here is a link to someone else’s simple recipe for stock made from a rotisserie chicken.  And from another blog dedicated entirely to soup — yay!

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