In our family circles my late aunt Patty was the reigning queen of up-cycling, recycling, repurposing and reusing most everything. One of my favorite stories (that I can share) was her making watermelon balls for a luncheon. Once done felling the melon, she held up the hollow half shell, examining it closely, wondering aloud what else she could make of it – aside from a bowl for the salad. That’s when another aunt swooped by, grabbed the melon shell and ran, rather than find it repurposed later.
Queen Patty (who literally was Lombard, Illinois’s 1949 Lilac Queen, the youngest queen in Village history) loved to entertain and tastefully made old things look new, long before shabby chic was popular. She was one of those lovely people one would assume comes from old money, and though she made the most of her life, our family history disproves family affluency. I think fondly of her every time I make this amazing rotisserie chicken soup recipe.
One of my tastiest finds ever, it came to me by accident. I’d been brainstorming an idea for an article that had me so fired up I had to walk away. So, I took inventory of the refrigerator, noting all the extra space days before payday. I would likely not have otherwise imagined how one of the most flavorful meals ever came about. In fact, it was so tasty I afterwards wrote every motion as best I remembered it to create it again, and again. And that it developed during a particularly difficult time when every penny and scrap mattered. It doesn’t make a lot, but it’s a good second meal from one often dry, leftover chicken.
Note: Try it. You’ll either love it or be relatively indifferent. Either way, take a photo and share it with me as I rarely remember to snap one myself 🙂 Until then, you can enjoy seeing me, Suze and the Beej back in the day.
Rotisserie Chicken Soup
One must think ahead and not serve the whole pieces of chicken. Instead, cut the meat from the bones and save the bones in the plastic container – everything un-mouthed, that is. Also keep the market packing (refrigerated, of course) without scraping or washing it.
Makes enough soup for 2 – 4 servings. Or by adding white cooking wine (and maybe a bit more stock) for a delightful reduction, tossed with rice, noodles or quinoa it will go even further with amazing flavor and considerable nutrients.
Put bones, skin, meat, drippings, everything left over from grocery store rotisserie chicken into a small soup pot. Pour 2 cups hot, not boiling, water to rinse and scrape drippings from container, pour into pot. Repeat with 2 more cups hot water. This gives the stock an extra pop of flavor.
Add more water if needed to just cover the chicken and bones.
Bring pot to boil, reduce heat and simmer till all meat falls from bones (nothing about this recipe is exact science – approximately 40 – 60 minutes, more or less).
Allow to cool and then pour through colander into a bowl or another pan, reserving the stock. Wearing gloves, take your time removing bones, (gently pinch between fingers to be sure no sharp pieces get through), skin and any undesirable pieces. Return meat to stock, refrigerate till separated and then skim fat from the top.
Once stock is near room temp, return it and the meat to the pot and add:
1 stalk celery, chopped (great way to use celery and onion trimmings from freezer)
1/2 small chopped onion
1 smashed clove garlic
1 chopped carrot
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 rosemary branch (optional – remove before serving)
Add vegetables to stock and simmer till tender.
At this point you can either
1. Add cooked noodles, pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa or more cooked vegetables if desired. Serve with rolls or crusty bread.
2. To make reduction, remove meat and vegetables from stock to a bowl or platter, set aside. Add 2 cups wine to stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, lower heat to a fast simmer and continue stirring till just slightly thick (it will continue to thicken as it cools). You will have a flavorful sauce that’s healthier without thickening agents like flour or cornstarch. Then return meat and vegetables to pan with noodles, rice or whatever you like, gently fold in sauce, plate and serve with crusty bread or rolls.