Today we’re preparing a simple yet satisfying (and delicious!) chicken soup. The soup starts off with richly herbed oven roasted chicken, prepared with a vegetable stock and schmalz broth (more on that below), to which we’ll be adding our vegetables, along with plenty of garlic, herbs, and red pepper. While I’m serving today’s soup over orzo, you can substitute in your favorite soup noodle.
Now, without further delay, let’s make some soup!
Why You’ll Love This Soup
1) A delicious use for leftover chicken. Chicken sandwiches and salads are great, but sometimes you want to make a truly delicious and satisfying ‘second meal’ out of that leftover chicken, and during these wintery nights, what better way to do that than a warm bowl of soup?
2) Super Simple. Apart from roasting the chicken, today’s soup is simply a matter of combining the ingredients in a soup pot at the proper intervals and then letting it simmer for the prescribed amount of time. Couldn’t be easier.
3) The Soup Keeps. Today’s soup keeps nicely in the fridge for several days, and heats up beautifully at a low simmer.
Ingredient Notes and Tips
1) The Solidified Chicken Fat – Schmalz. The science is in, and it declares that fat is flavor, plain and simple. In fact, this may come as a shock, but muscle tissue has ‘almost zero’ in the way of flavor-giving compounds. Instead, virtually everything we humans perceive as ‘flavorful’ in meat, be it fish, pork, beef, or poultry, comes directly from ‘fat.’ So when you’ve got left over chicken (or any leftover meat), all of the ‘fat’ that’s solidified at the bottom of the container is (quite literally) the meat’s natural flavor. This ‘fat is flavor’ concept is the idea behind using lard and chicken fat (schmalz) as an ingredient – and the schmalz from today’s leftover chicken is no different. Without it, the soup will be missing a lot in terms of flavor.
2) Bay Leaves, what are they anyway? This particular herb (or range of herbs, there are many varieties) gets something of a bad rap in modern culinary circles, having a reputation ranging from articles calling them the “Dryer sheets of the kitchen,” to respected food critics stating flatly “What does a bay leaf taste like? Nothing.” The mere fact that food critic Alex Delany had to defend the bay leaf’s existence is proof in and of itself that the bay leaf is both woefully misunderstood, and sorrowfully underappreciated. That said, they are the key ingredient in Old Bay seasoning, and feature prominently in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American cuisine, where they are used to add sharp pungency and herbal bitterness to already ‘rustic’ flavor profiles, such as in marinara, adobo, and mole sauces, and that ‘sharp pungency’ is precisely what we’re hoping to achieve by tossing one or two into today’s soup.
3) All Purpose Seasoning. To put it bluntly, all-purpose seasonings are a “busy cook’s secret weapon”, used more or less as a time saver. However, the key to a good all-purpose seasoning is “Know thyself,” simply because ‘your’ all-purpose seasoning probably won’t be ‘my’ all-purpose seasoning, either because our palette’s are different, or because we cook different foods regularly, or because we don’t season our foods in ‘quite’ the same way. In other words, know what you like, then pare that down by what you prepare the most, then figure out what combination of seasonings you use most in those recipes, and ‘that’ is your ‘best’ all-purpose seasonings. Or skip all of that find a store-bought all-purpose seasoning that you happen to like.
What do I use? Personally, I use a store-bought Vegetable Seasoning, and I use this in soups, sauces, and pretty much any savory dish that I’ll be putting over heat. The primary ingredients are dried vegetables (carrots, parsnips, onions, potatoes, and parsley), seasoned primarily with black pepper and nutmeg, among other assorted spices. This works wonders in stews, soups, sauces, and on meat.
More Delicious Soups from Living the Gourmet
1) Spinach and Meatball Soup. One of my favorite soup recipes ever. The meatballs give the broth a ‘thick’ texture and ‘meaty’ flavor, while the veggies and herbs keep the sound grounded. I really can’t recommend this one enough.
2) Roasted Gazpacho. A‘very’ kicked up Gazpacho, with grilled peppers, sliced jalapenos, and plenty of herbs and garlic. The end result is a gazpacho that’s earthy and smoky, courtesy of the charred peppers, and just a tad spicy, but also cooling and refreshing, courtesy of the mixed herbs.
3) Spicy Sweet Potato and Chicken Soup. Another sweet potato favorite, but this one is pleasantly spicy, featuring jalapenos and red pepper, with earthy tones like carrots and onions, and herbal notes such as oregano and garlic. All of this comes together beautifully to create a seasonal collage of flavors perfect for grey winter days or chilled nights.Print