Accidental chicken soup (or I have no time to cook)
I have like no time to cook so I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to plan menus for weeknights when the kids went back to school. I mean, in theory it’s a great idea, because we’d all be sitting together having a meal, and it would be planned ahead so there would be less short-order cooking (though I still have to do that for one boy who is extremely “selective,” so much so that he himself admitted to me that he doesn’t need a nutritionist, he needs a psychologist.)
I took a vote and we decided on Mac ‘n’ cheese Monday, Chicken Tuesday, Pasta Night on Wednesday (because Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day), Taco Thursday, and Friday was kind of a free-for-all if anyone was around. Maybe we’d cook a pizza. Saturday was unstructured (sometimes the kids weren’t even home) and Sunday I had been making some sort of crockpot thing like beef stew that only my husband and I ate. Because I really have no time to cook, Pasta Night (tossing frozen meatballs and a jar of sauce in the crockpot) and Pizza night were my favorites. All of the other nights were somewhat labor intensive, but at least on Sunday, I could get the crockpot set up ahead of time.
Note: if you don’t want to read this whole story, you can skip to the end for the recipe!
Having a planned out menu means I don’t have to think too hard and I can actually get the ingredients I need ahead of time, which means I don’t have to go to the supermarket on a whimsical schedule. I might just go twice a week, for example, instead of almost daily, which is what happens when the supermarket is right down the street as it is and I don’t know what we’re having until I get inspired by something I see as I peruse. (To be honest, I would be perfectly happy with smoothies every night but since I live with four guys, I have to make “man food,” which has been very unkind to my waistline.)
So yesterday was Chicken Tuesday, and I planned to use my awesome new chicken cooker. I spied this at a church fair the weekend before last at the table 90-degrees to mine. I was at the fair selling my soap and the couple next to me had the most beautiful and unique pottery. Really, it is more than just pottery, it is art. I calculated how many rotisserie chickens I would be buying (I guessed that they’re about twice as much as buying a chicken of similar size and cooking it yourself) before I decided to make this purchase. Yesterday, the day somehow got away from me and I found myself with practically no time to cook before I had to get one of my boys to his piano lesson.
After my husband and I walked the dogs, I threw the ingredients for a “Basic White” loaf into the bread machine. Then I quickly pulled the giblets out of the bird, poured a little root beer into the reservoir, sprayed the chicken with Pam, and shook some Mrs. Dash herbs onto it. Lastly, I placed some vegetables around the base and put the whole thing into a cold oven before turning the heat up to 350 degrees.
We were back from piano (and picking my car up from the mechanic’s) within an hour, and when I had a little time to gather my wits, I realized that this meal wasn’t going to be ready until at least 9 p.m. (that is another challenge I have: even with planned out menus, I still have no time to cook and getting everything done at a “normal dinner hour,” which according to my kids is 6 p.m., is really hard.)
Everything came out delicious. We lingered around the table with one of the boys who was doing homework and job hunting. Before I knew it, it was 10:00 and there was a sink full of dishes, and food to put away. Plus the chicken carcass. I SO could not fathom picking the rest of the meat off the carcass at that time, so I had the idea to make soup with it! To me it was the equivalent of soaking the dishes I didn’t feel like washing.
I got out my crockpot, put the chicken carcass minus the legs in it, and covered 90% of it in water. I turned the heat to low, shut out the kitchen lights, and called it a night.
Today the pressure was on, though. I needed the crockpot for Pasta Night. So I began Googling “how to make chicken soup.” Most of the recipes suggested I should have used chicken stock (but isn’t that what cooking a chicken carcass creates?) and varied on length of time to cook, and whether to use a crock pot or do it over the stove. I realized I hadn’t put any vegetables in with the carcass either. I felt discouraged and briefly considered giving the whole mess to the dogs. Not only do I have like no time to cook, when I do cook, I don’t even remember how. I’m a lousy homemaker, and dang it all, I have to go to the supermarket again to get frozen peas and carrots (I had no time to dice carrots) and some washed and sliced mushrooms (they’re the same price as the unprepped ones at the store so why not?). Skip the onion because I have no time for crying today!
With that, I decided I’d just make up my own recipe. I dumped the crockpot into a colander over a huge pot on the stove. I pressed out all the liquid. Then I separated the chicken and skin from the bones and set it aside for the dogs. I dumped in some rice and sprinkled in some Herb ox chicken bouillon (in case my stock wasn’t “stocky” enough). I added two more cups of water because I thought I might have put in too much rice. Then I turned the stove on low and went about my business.
After a while, I checked on my soup, which was simmering. The rice had absorbed nearly all of the water. I got the chicken legs out of the fridge and finished off my soup with meat that I pulled from the drumsticks and thighs. It was absolutely delicious with a bit of salt and pepper and my husband was so enthusiastic about the chicken “stoup,” he wanted to save a dish for his mom. So maybe I’m not the worst homemaker in the world after all!
Carlie’s Accidental Chicken Soup
- Chicken carcass
- Vegetables, such as peas, carrots, celery, onion
- Rice (or noodles)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Reserve some meat from the chicken carcass before placing it in the crockpot (You will not want to eat the meat that you boil because all the flavor and goodness will transfer to your stock. Feed the meet you’re not eating to your pets but be sure there are no bones left in it.) Cover it with water. Turn the crockpot on low overnight. It will smell good and any time after that you can strain the stock into a large pot on the stove. Press all the liquid out of the meat. Sprinkle in some bouillon and add rice (or noodles). If you think you added too much rice/noodles, add some more water. Add your vegetables now. Cook on low until the rice (or noodles) are done. Add salt and pepper if you like. That’s it, really yummy and really easy for those who have no time to cook!