I have lots of ideas for using up leftover roast chicken, but now the weather has cooled and I’m in full-on soup mode, it’s chicken noodle soup for me, all the way.
Even if all you have leftover is the carcass with nary a morsel of meat left on the bones, you still have what you need to make this soup. Any scraps of meat are a pleasurable bonus.
Believe me when I say the smell of the broth wafting through your house is, in itself, comforting enough to cure what ails you.
Feeds 4 – 6
For the broth:
1 carcass leftover from a roast chicken, any remaining meat stripped, torn into small pieces and reserved
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 stalks of celery, cut into large chunks
2 medium onions, halved
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp fine salt
2 bay leaves
Small bunch of fresh thyme
Optional: small bunch of parsley stalks (leaves reserved)
For the soup:
1 medium carrot, finely chopped (or sliced, if you prefer)
1 – 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 smallish onion, finely chopped
Reserved chicken pieces
100g small pasta (or long pasta cracked into pieces), about 3/4 cup
Optional: few parsley leaves, to garnish
Snap the carcass into pieces and place in your largest pot with a lid. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and onions, then sprinkle in the peppercorns and salt. Use kitchen twine to tie the thyme in a tight bunch and drop in the pot, along with the bay leaves. If you’ve got some parsley stalks lying around, tie those in a tight bunch as well, and drop in with the other herbs.
Tip: Use natural, undyed kitchen twine. We’ve all seen Bridget Jones.
Pour in approximately 2.5L of cold water. You want to ensure the vegetables and bones are just covered, with enough liquid to swish everything around a bit.
Pop on the lid, turn on the heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Tip: You may have heard you will need to skim off the “foam” when making stock or broth. Roasted bones don’t seem to do this, so you should be able to avoid it altogether. If, however, you feel the top is getting a bit foamy, give it a quick skim before you next stir everything around.
When the broth has had its time, use tongs to carefully remove the larger chunks of carcass and vegetables to a plate. (This makes the next step a little safer.) Let the plate of debris cool slightly, then discard.
Now you’re ready to strain the broth. Place a colander in a large bowl – NOT in the sink! – then begin by ladling in the broth. When you’re confident you can do this safely, pick up the pot and pour the remaining broth in the colander. Let the rest of the sieved debris cool slightly and discard.
What you have now is a pure and beautiful chicken broth. Give it a taste while it’s warm and adjust the salt so it tastes really good. Don’t go overboard, but a properly seasoned broth should taste like every ingredient you’ve added. You’ll know when you get there.
To finish the soup, heat a pot over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, then add in the chopped carrots, celery and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion has started to soften. Pour in the broth, but hold back the very end which may contain some grit. Bring the pot to a simmer. Once the broth has reached a bubble, add in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, lid partially on, for about 8 minutes, or until the pasta has almost cooked. Add in any reserved chicken and cook for a further minute or two, or until the chicken has warmed through and the pasta has finished cooking. Check the seasoning once more, and add a splash of water if the soup has become a little too salty. Ladle into mugs or bowls, and sprinkle over a few parsley leaves if you’ve got them. Serve.
Make ahead: Soup can be frozen prior to adding the pasta. Freeze any chicken pieces separately and thaw before use. Once the soup has reached a simmer, add the pasta and proceed as directed.