Seems to me that the people who write recipes must have have some secrets up their sleeves, or a rabbit in their hat. Because I can’t otherwise explain how they can possibly do things like caramelize onions in 30 minutes or get a really good sear on a cut of meat in 2 minutes per side. It’s as though time is suspended in their kitchen.
Anytime I read a recipe I feel like I should start mentally marking up the cooking time that is quoted as guidelines. I need to sweat onion and celery till soft and you say it should take about five minutes. In my kitchen it’s more like ten or fifteen minutes. Roast my veg for 30 minutes until tender? Please, I’m giving that pan a shake every 30 minutes.
Am I responsible for some of the discrepancies? Absolutely. Am I using a large enough pan? Maybe not. Am I cooking over a high enough heat? Maybe not. Have I overcrowded my pan? Possibly. All of these differences could partly explain why it takes me longer to get from Point A to Point B than you say it will. As far as the rest of the explanation…I will never know.
One thing I do know is that some secrets can be cracked. Like the secret to homemade chicken soup.
The secret is simple, use a rotisserie chicken as both the base of the stock and the meat for the finished soup. No more taking up valuable freezer space to save random chicken parts until you have enough for a soup. And no more spending a whole day with a pot slowly simmering away on the stove. Who has time for that?
One rotisserie chicken is all you need. Simmering the stripped carcass and skin in chicken broth gives you a full and rich stock in no time at all. Now, if you want to tell people that this soup took you all day so that you could sneak in some alone time, I can promise that your secret is safe with me.
Easy Chicken Soup
Adapted from Cook’s Country
BAH Note: Use this as your guide and then fancy it up any way you like. Add rice or noodles! Don’t want to give peas a chance? Substitute frozen corn instead. Do what makes you happy.
I make a mess in the kitchen on my good days. So when a recipe tells me to pour 8 cups of hot liquid through a strainer, I see danger signs. Instead of tempting fate, and 2nd degree burns, by trying to pour steaming hot liquid out of the hot stock pot, I break the process down into a few steps. I place a mesh strainer in a bowl large enough to hold all the liquid. Then I use tongs to remove the chicken from the pot and place it in the strainer. Using a big ladle, I run the stock from the pot through the strainer. Lastly I scrape any bits from the bottom of the stock pot into the strainer. Once all the liquid has drained off the chicken and vegetables, the strainer rests in the sink until the bones and veg have cooled enough to go in the trash.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 whole rotisserie chicken
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup frozen peas
Break down the rotisserie chicken and shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Keep the skin and bones for making the stock. And be sure to scrape any gelled juices out of the chicken carrier. That’s pure gold right there and it needs to go in your soup pot.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until the vegetables begin to soften about 10 minutes. Add the chicken bones and skin, broth, water, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and garlic to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
Strain your stock through a mesh strainer and press on the solids to get as much liquid out as possible. Return the stock to your dutch oven. You want to have about 8 cups of liquid by this point. If you have less than 8 cups, add water till you get there.
While the stock cooks, take the diced carrot and onion and remaining 1/2 tablespoon (that’s 1 1/2 teaspoons) olive oil and microwave on high for approximately 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften.
Transfer the softened carrot and onion mixture to the chicken stock. Stir in the frozen peas and chicken and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt and pepper to taste.