Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday: Easiest (and BEST) Chicken-Noodle-Whatever Soup

Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

It's that time of year.

We've had several snow falls this week - some of which have "stuck" (briefly), and some of which have just been a pretty pain.

It's also a time of major cooking, cleaning, guesting, hosting, preparing... well, you get it.

And it cries, no screams, for simple, filling recipes that keep us warm and happy and yes, relaxed, if at all possible.

One of my favorite "go-to" recipes for this is a very, very simple slow cooker chicken soup. There are many "maybes" with this one, and only a couple of "have-tos". It's a 10 - 15 minute prep in the morning, a 15-minute follow-up right before dinner, and a whole lot of happy faces. Enjoy!

Jen's Easiest (and BEST) Chicken-Noodle-Whatever Soup

Ingredients (varies):

A leftover chicken carcass with NO SKIN (from a roast chicken or a chicken you picked up roasted, etc.) (have-to)
the chicken neck (or whatever you didn't roast with your chicken if you, in fact, roasted the chicken yourself)
2 BIG soup carrots or the equiv., peeled, with the ends chopped off (have-to)
1 honking big onion, peeled and cut in half (have-to)
a couple of stalks of celery, leaves and all, washed well, with the bottom trimmed (nice - very good if you've got it - NOT a have to)
some sprigs of fresh rosemary or a TBS of dried rosemary (again, not a have-to, but very, very nice)
a couple of cloves of smashed garlic (same as with the rosemary)
a heaping TBS of Kosher salt (HAVE-TO - unless you have salt issues, then Mrs. Dash or something like that will do)
water (I'll explain below)
any other veggies you need to use up, cracked pepper, parmesan cheese, leftover sausage, or anything else that strikes your fancy. (not have-tos)


1. Prep veggies and throw in slow cooker.
2. Tear or cut carcass in the slow cooker.
3. JUST cover the veggies and carcass with water. Note: if you have very salty well water, you'll do much better to use spring water or equiv for this - or filtered or whatever, because salty well-water will really make this taste odd).
4. Sprinkle salt, garlic and rosemary over all.
5. IF you're going to be around, set cooker for high for 1 1/2 hours and then switch to low for 6 hours more. If you're not going to be around, just set it to low for 8 - 10 hours.
6. Go do other things. All day.

7. 15 minutes or so before serving: unplug cooker.
8. Make pasta of your choice in a separate pot (yes, you can do this in the broth, but the noodles absorb too much broth and the broth gets gummy).
9. Place a colander or strainer over a large bowl in the sink. Take the cooker and pour the broth through the colander. Reserve the veggies and chicken in the colander - remove and let broth cool somewhat (it's generally VERY hot)
10. Drain pasta.
11. Prep bowls - look in your fridge for leftover veggies, cut them up, and place in bowls. Strip chicken from carcass, divide between bowls. Cut up the carrots and celery, divide in bowls. Ladle pasta into bowls.
12. Ladle broth into bowls - it will heat everything (if it's cooled too much, heat it on the stove for a moment or three before adding it to the soup bowls).
13. Put lots of cracked pepper over all. Enjoy!

I don't have exact nutrition info on this, but it is lowfat and fairly low calorie - I believe it's about 150 - 200 calories per jam-packed bowl.

Here's the stages of prep with the bowls (we had peas to use up):


Grimm said...

I am freaking STARVING now. That looks delicious!

I will definately be writing this one down since the wife and I started dieting!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this :)

Jen said...

Grimm - this is a great diet recipe - you can totally control the pasta - just make sure you put in one serving, and skinless chicken breast is again, a good choice.

I'm so glad, Maryann - it's nice, because I've LOVED so many of your recipes!

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

This sounds great!

Jen said...

It's a great easy one, Brittany!

Korie said...

Mmmm...that looks SO good. And soup is so perfect this time of year.

Mae Travels said...

I had two duck carcasses for slow-cooker stock this weekend. It's really a great way to use the bones. UMAMI!

You can use this stock for lots of other recipes, too. Example: if you browned onions with a little sugar, and simmered the broth briefly with the onions, you'd have French Onion Soup to serve with cheese-covered toast.

Madam Crunchypants said...

Looks fantastic. I often use extra garlic in my soup because I can't have onions.

Jen said...

Ooooooo, Mae, that's a fabulous idea! And I have those onions just waiting to be used. And I meant to say that you'd produce more stock than you'd need - I use this for everything.

I find the two flavors to be different, Ella - I'd use more celery rather than more garlic to retain the sweetness of the soup. I'd use more garlic anyway, but C would object. ;-) Maybe when he's off to college this soup will regenerate a bit.

Ben said...

This is the kind of recipes we need for before and after the holiday craziness. And it looks delicious! :)

Jen said...

They're useful for both time and waistlines, Ben. BTW... did you see I left you something below?

Anonymous said...

Yummy! That looks easy and good. ANd I never think of something so easy as using a different sort of noodle-i'm so boring.

I'm gonna copy this down, I am in a soup mode.

Unknown said...

Looks delicious

Jen said...

Sassy... it's SO easy.

Thanks, City Girl!

Anonymous said...

"1 honking big onion"

Love it.

Jen said...

That's sort of how I roll as a cook, Leslie - I hate recipes. I'm much more a "little of this, little of that" kind of gal. ;-) For this one, the onion lends great sweetness to the broth, so I like using the BIG mothers!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

yum! this is perfect for a winter evening.

peter said...

No slow cooker here, but I make broth all the time with leftover bones and then freeze it. We do a version of this but with soba or udon instead of shells.

Unknown said...

...tis the season for hearty soups and stews. We call this peasant food in my home, and we love it.

anno said...

Mmmmm... my favorite kind of winter meal! This is my style of cooking, too!

Jen said...

NYC - we have it at least once a week.

Peter - another variation I make is udon with grated ginger added to the mix. I don't use onions in that version and I matchstick the carrots. I've also done this via stove many, many times, but the slow cooker is great from a convenience standpoint.

Greg - my background is peasant on both sides of the family, so I'm all for that!

Anno... it's a great winter staple.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Pretty much what I made a few weekends ago with leftover store-bought rotisserie chicken. YUM!

muzzyblue said...

I love your writing! "Honking big onion" You talk the way I do--love it. And you just know the snow is going to stick, and very soon. I'm a fellow Michiganian, so I can sympathize.

This soup is great, and I'm going to fill my crock pot with it for Sunday night supper!
Thanks for another great recipe!


jesse said...

That looks amazing. Ahh, spoon me a big bowl right now!

Jen said...

Michelle - it's such a great "go-to" isn't it?

Jane - thanks for stopping by - I was just rummaging through Life's Too Short and Foodzilla and will DEFINITELY be back - love your blogs!

Jesse - Ditto, and I loved We All Go Poopie - I've spent some lovely times in Oxford and am looking forward to seeing your perspective.

April said...

It looks SO yummy. But then there's that part about the chicken carcass. Being a DreamDinners gal, this is not something I generally have.

Tui Snider said...

Yum, yummy! I love homemade chicken soup. I had never thought of using that type of pasta in chicken soup. I shall try that next time! ~Tui

Jen said...

April, well, Dream Dinners have their place, too - if I had Dream Dinners, I might not have so many chicken carcasses. ;-)

Hi Tui - good to hear from you! I love "mixing things up" with the chicken soup. It's such a catch-all for what I need to use up.

glamah16 said...

Great looking soup. Turkey carcass could work too!

Virtualsprite said...

THANK YOU!!!! I am always looking for good slow cooker recipes and this is wonderful! I can't wait to try this.

Momisodes said...

It's been so cold here lately. THIS sounds perfect! I love your big and round carrot slices :) This recipe definitely sounds easy enough, even for me :)

P.S. Sorry I'm here late. Thanks so much for getting back to me. No worries about visiting. I'm playing catch up myself. :)

Núria said...

A lovely and delicious soup... I bet! I always use fresh carcases for my stocks, but I like the way you put this one :D. And since here it's getting very cold (no snow though) this one has lots of points to be performed ;D

Goofball said...

As a child, chicken-noodle soup was absolutely my favourite soup. I mainly liked the noodles in the soup, they were fun to play with.

I named the soup consitently "little snake soup" as the noodles were spaghetti like.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!


It is printed and I will be making this next week. Thanks!!

Jen said...

Sorry I didn't get to these final comments!

Virtual and Widney - you're welcome!

Momisodes - they're big and round because those are our big, round farm carrots - they're HUGE!

Nuria, I do this in the regular pot, too, but this makes it soooo easy!

Goofball, it's so funny you should say that because C learned a song almost like that in first grade and didn't want to eat spaghetti or noodle soup for a while after that!

Mariposa, thanks so much!