When everyone who works at Trader Joe’s knows you, you must be there entirely too often. Every time I end up in the check out line, one of the cashiers undoubtedly asks about this blog, my cooking classes, or will share a new recipe idea of their own. The other day one of staff members told me about a fabulous chicken soup she made in her crock pot. Simple idea, but oddly, I’d never done it myself. Of course now I had no choice but to make it.
The other night when I made a roasted chicken for dinner, after I’d called everyone to the table, I realized that only the breasts had fully cooked and were suitable for serving (we all miscalculate sometimes!). I carved those off, which was plenty of meat for my family, and left the rest of the carcass in the pan. Afterwards, I hauled out my crockpot, tossed in what was left of the chicken, and filled it with water. I added a few cut up carrots and a bunch of scallions to the pot and turned it on. Within an hour the smell was wonderful.
By bedtime the chicken had fully cooked, so I pulled it out, tore off the skin, and proceeded to remove all the meat from the bones. Back into the pot they went, along with a healthy tablespoonful of chicken soup base (see note below), which would add some needed salt and give the broth an even richer flavor. The soup would be wonderful just like this, but when I finally was ready to eat it the next day (cool it completely before refrigerating), I put it in a saucepan, brought to a boil, and added some noodle “o’s” to make a delicious chicken noodle soup. It really was no effort at all, just time, and unattended time at that. Besides, it beats the pants off canned soup any day of the week!
Crock Pot Chicken Soup
Makes a big pot!
3 lbs of chicken on the bone (parts, or like I used, the leftover whole chicken)
8 cups of water (or however much it takes to cover the chicken completely and fill up your crock pot)
4 carrots, sliced
6 scallions, sliced
1-2 tablespoons chicken soup base (optional)
1/2 – 3/4 cup small pasta (like little rings, orzo, or ditalini)
Place chicken (raw or partly cooked) into crock pot and add water.
Add carrots and scallions (you could also add celery if you had it–about 2-3 ribs, sliced).
Cover and heat on high for approximately 4 hours, or until chicken is entirely cooked (if a lot of fat collects on top, simply skim it off ).
Remove chicken, pull off meat, and return meat to pot.
Add chicken soup base if broth is not flavorful enough.
Serve hot, or cool completely and store in air-tight container in the refrigerator (or freeze for up to 3 months).
To add pasta, place desired amount in saucepan, bring to a boil, add pasta, and cook until tender.
NOTE: Soup base is a wonderful thing to keep on hand! It is basically VERY concentrated chicken broth, in a paste-like form. Found in the aisle where you find canned broth. I love the variety they sell at Penzey’s Spices, but if you don’t have one near you, “Better than Boullion” is one well known brand found everywhere. Be sure to store in the refrigerator!