I tend to find that when life gives you lemons, the best policy is to throw them away and make chicken soup. Now, I don’t really have a chicken soup recipe that I use, so this is going to be less of a detailed “how to” and more of an experiential process. That said, here’s a list of more or less what goes into the finished product:
One chicken (you can roast your own if you have all day, or just buy a rotisserie one. They’re unimaginably delicious)
As many cans/boxes of chicken broth as will fit in your largest pot along with all the other ingredients.
Celery, onions, carrots. Maybe also garlic.
Whatever else you like in your chicken soup. I usually go for some yummy red potatoes. Other people like rice, or noodles, but I tend to find anything like that will soak up my delicious delicious broth, and just generally get mushy and irritating. But to each his own.
Assorted herbs. Whatever you like with chicken. I usually throw in some tarragon, maybe a touch of cayenne, some thyme, really whatever is handy and smells good. And of course salt and pepper.
So, step one is to remove the chicken meat from the chicken bones. If you’ve bought a rotisserie chicken or are particularly crafty at chicken roasting yourself, there will probably be delicious crispy chicken skin between you and the meat. Your doctor would probably tell you to throw that out since its by far the fattiest part of the whole proceedings, but I say that would be a crime. Eat it while you are stripping the meat. Keep the meat for throwing in the soup later, for sandwiches, for whatever purpose best suits leftover chicken in your universe. Also, reserve the fat at the bottom of the container. If you roast your own chicken, there will be a fairly large quantity of chicken fat and juices on the bottom of the roasting pan. If you got a rotisserie chicken, there will be less, but should still be some in the container it came in. Hang on to that, I have devilish plans for it.
So, put the chicken carcass in a big pot with some roughly chopped celery, onions, and carrots and the chicken broth you bought. If you feel the desire to throw some crushed garlic in there, go for it. Also add whatever herbs you’re using. Bring it all to a boil, and then simmer it for as long as you can stand not eating it. I’d say an hour is the minimum, but I’ve never been able to wait more than two, so I don’t know what happens beyond that point. Your house will start to fill with indecently mouthwatering aromas. In fact, I usually succumb to temptation around 30 minutes or so and start tasting the blazing hot liquid. It’s delicious, but causes me to burn my tongue repeatedly, which is ultimately not so conducive to future soup eating happiness.
After you’ve simmered as long as you plan to simmer, strain all the solids out of the liquid. This can be a lengthy and somewhat difficult process, depending on what sorts of alternate containers you’re straining into, how big your strainer is, etc. However, I have faith in you, so you can figure all that out in the privacy of your own kitchen. Once you have separated the liquid from the solids, and the liquid is back in its original large pot, you’re on the home stretch.
Here’s where the diabolical plan for the chicken fat comes in. Fry an onion in it. No seriously, this is megadelicious. So good I had to make up a word for it, see what I did there? Slice up an onion, put it in a pan with the chicken fat, maybe some cayenne if you’re into that (I am), maybe a little salt and pepper. Once the onion has sizzled away for awhile, throw the whole thing in the soup. Well… not the frying pan, but, you know, the contents thereof. This may not change your life, but I’m fairly certain it changed mine.
Then, add whatever else you want in the soup! I usually chop some carrots and celery and just let them cook in the broth. However, since I’m all about conserving broth, when it comes time to add potatoes I boil them in water first, then drain and add them to the soup out of some, perhaps misguided, notion that they will soak up broth during cooking. Finally, I find that its best if you want chicken in your chicken soup to just put some chicken pieces in the bowl and pour hot soup over them. If you actually put cooked chicken in the soup it gets dried out, counter-intuitive though that may be. I also sometimes put bok choy in the soup. It’s really delicious and soaks up flavor from whatever its cooked in. The only thing to watch out for is it sort of falls apart if you cook it more than about 5 minutes.
Then, EAT! I don’t feel the need to elaborate on this part really. Maybe bread and butter or cheese should be involved. Up to you.
Since, however hard you try (and I know, I’ve tried) you will not be able to eat it all in one sitting, it’s fortunate that the soup stores well. I generally just stick the whole pot in the fridge with a lid on it. It’s never been around in my house longer than a few days, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be in yours either, as you all have excellent taste, so hopefully we shall never know how long it takes to go bad.