There isn’t anyone who doesn’t love chicken soup. At least I never knew anyone. Usually people say, I love so and so’s (Grandma’s, my friend Laura’s, my Mom’s) chicken noodle soup, but when I try and make it, it doesn’t taste like anything. I have a warm, bubbly make-it-all-better, from scratch chicken noodle soup that I will blog sometime; this isn’t it. This is how to make a simple, fast, tasty and even good-for-you chicken soup in the time it takes to watch Rachel Ray. Or: how to make chicken soup out of leftovers plus a few things you might have in your frig and/or pantry. It’s also:
How to make January taste better.
How to go to bed feeling full, toasty, and very healthily fed.
How to use what you have and feel great about it.
How to not spend all night in the kitchen or all your money on take-out.
The secret to making many a soup taste like anything is flavoring the stock. If you make homemade chicken stock, you will pile up in a huge kettle chickens, onions, celery, carrots, herbs and season it heartily with salt and pepper. You’ll boil it for a few hours, remove the chicken (your call as to what to do with all of that cooked to death chicken), strain the broth, and then reduce it by boiling it again right then or when you make soup.

If you’re making soup out of leftovers, you must sort of back-pedal that whole process and figure out how to get that flavor without all the prep. You can have soup made in a half hour in many cases. Let’s say you have some leftover baked chicken and a few noodles and it’s not enough for dinner, but you don’t know what else to do with it. Well, you could warm it up and feed you; everyone else could make a sandwich. Or: you can make a chicken soup capable of curing anything and you will never again wonder how to make soup taste like something.

First, it might be helpful to just think about what you need to have on hand so that you are able to take those leftovers (not a nice word, don’t you think, unless we’re talking leftover chocolate cake) and make delicious second and, sometimes, third meals from them:

  • Keep several boxes of low-sodium broth on hand.
  • In the frig, store carrots, celery, parsley, other fresh herbs (or grow your own)
  • Have some small (or even large) dried pasta on the shelf
  • Canned tomatoes (small and large cans) are always helpful
  • Store dried herbs and spices in a dark, cool spot
  • In the pantry, make sure you have onions, garlic, shallots and potatoes

If you have some chicken, pasta and vegetables from over the weekend and the above pantry items, you can try this sweet soup and see if you don’t figure out how to rearrange the ingredients for another almost instant soup sometime. Feel free to sub ingredients with what you have, Here’s how I did it:

Spicy Chicken Vegetable Soup from Leftovers serves 6

2T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 c carrots, sliced
1 c celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 boxes low-sodium chicken broth, gluten-free or regular
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
2 c cooked chicken, chopped or torn
1-2 c cooked vegetables, diced (I had some zucchini and yellow squash)
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/4 t Kosher salt; 1/8 t freshly-ground pepper
1 t Herbes de Provence (or 1/2 t ea dried sage and thyme)
1/4 c ea fresh basil and parsley, minced (or 2t dried basil)
1/2 c fresh spinach
1 c cooked noodles or pasta, gluten-free if necessary, cut into 2″ pieces if needed*

In a 10 quart soup kettle, saute onions, celery and carrots in olive oil for 6-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Add rest of the ingredients except noodles and spinach and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add noodles and spinach; simmer 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot in warm bowls with rosemary bread.

*If you have no cooked noodles, add uncooked pasta to the soup after you bring it to a boil. Cook until pasta is tender.

WINE: We liked a little California Zinfandel with this.

DESSERT: A couple of Christmas cookies still in the freezer. Other option: a little cheese. MMM leftover from our New Year’s party. All still good, too.

BEST DEALS I SAW THIS WEEK:

Seghesio Zin, 15% off with “Family Card” at Colorado Liquor Outlet on Briargate Blvd.

Eggplant, $1 ea at King Sooper’s

Of course, here’s the moment you waited for-
There’s a new baby at our house. Meet 10 week old ______________. That’s right; he has no name. He screams very loudly at 2am and 5 am, but is otherwise lovingly voiced. He is sweet, pudgy, friendly and sleeps and eats very well. His legs are barely long enough for him to get to the garage to eat; he about falls out the door. He gets so tired on walks that he lays down to sleep if you go for too long.
If you have an idea for a great male golden name, let me know. Current ideas from a variety of sources are Basie, Berlioz, Sam, Tucker, P-No (Pinot), Alfie, Basil, Curtis and Duke. Gabby wavers between being the happiest girl on earth and asking, “Where did HE come from?” and, “Do you still love me, Mom?”
As for me, I love having, once more, a Two-Dog Kitchen.
Sing a new song; name a new dog,
Alyce

Baby love, my baby love——-