I was sick last week. Cranky, achy, runny nose sick. And man, how I did not want to be sick!
Like many people, I have healing rituals around being sick. For example, wearing my socks to bed to keep my feet warm is a thing. There, now you know.
I also have a powerful, unshakeable belief in the curative powers of chicken soup. Really, it can make you better in so many ways. What!? You don’t believe me?? I’m shocked. OK, here – read all about it on the Internet, the finest source of Truth known to man.
But to make chicken soup, you’ve got to cut up a chicken, poach it a little, drain it, then simmer it for a long time. Or you could use a chicken carcass from a roast chicken that you’ve prepared.
In either case, it’s a bit of work. I would quickly add “Totally Worth It!” but, work.
Not any more, thanks to CostCo. If there’s a CostCo anywhere near you, you’re probably familiar with their lovely rotisserie chickens. At US$4.99, they are a total bargain, and are delicious!
I suspect one of the reasons that CostCo rotisserie chickens are so good is that people eat a lot of them. That means they are constantly cooking up new batches to feed the ravening hordes (and seriously, have you ever been in CostCo when they are having a heavy sampling day??). So their rotisserie chickens are generally fresh and hot, right out of the ovens.
Concerns about “what’s in a CostCo chicken”? You’re totally right to have them. Here’s an interesting recent article from the defiantly counter-culture and often unusual Natural News about that subject. Apparently, responding to consumer demand, CostCo is phasing out chicken with shared-use antibiotics (which makes up perhaps 75-80% of the commercially produced chicken in the US!), so you’ll be getting just fresh clean chicken that is also damn tasty and a serious bargain.
One CostCo chicken makes us, for example:
- 4 large deli-style chicken sandwiches, just using slices of the breast meat. Oh they are so good. I like them on rye bread, Bonney likes them on multi-grain (heresy!!), but we both like a lil dab of mayonnaise or homemade Salsa Golf.
- Chicken stir fry for 4 using another 8-10 oz. meat.
- About 20 oz. of excellent (I know!! I made it myself!) chicken salad, with no preservatives or additives, unless you consider mayonnaise an additive.
- AND THIS
I made about 3 quarts of chicken soup – so much that I had to freeze some of it. And it was succulent! Light and fresh tasting, with just a hint of tangy umami from the roasted chicken. It was a lot easier to make because the chicken had already been cooked and was ready to pop in the pot!
CostCo Rotisserie Chicken Chicken Soup
For about 1/2 gallon of soup (2 qts or so).
- 1 CostCo rotisserie chicken
- About 10 C. water
- 1/2 ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed between your thumb and fingers into a fine, almost impalpable dust. Thyme dust!! An herb that sounds like the title of a science fiction story.
- 1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg. Use what you have.
- Juice from 1 large, juicy lemon
- Optional, 2 T. Better than Bouillon, chicken. This is entirely optional, I just like it. The soup tastes great without it, but you should try it sometime, it’s excellent!
- 1 large yellow onion, cut in quarters, to go into pot skin and all
- 3-4 large carrots, cut in large chunks, plus 1 additional large carrot
- 3 stalks celery, cut in large chunks, plus one additional celery stalk (try to use stalks with lots of leaves, celery leaves are wonderful!)
- 1 C. plain rice, medium grain if you have it, if not, use what you have. Jasmin rice is also good in this soup!
- Salt, pepper to taste. You should not need much.
- Optional but please try this! About 6 oz. of greens, roughly chopped.
- Optional but good. About 4-6 oz. sweet cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise and sprinkled with salt.
Take what’s left of your rotisserie chicken and cut it up into about 6-8 large pieces. You will put everything in the soup – you can skim off the fat, if you like, later. Try to hack up the larger bones (a heavy pair of kitchen shears or a cleaver – be careful!! – is good for this), as lots of the really good stuff is inside them.
Into the pot, put the chicken, the onion, the coarsely chunked carrot, the roughly chopped celery, the whole cloves, half the rubbed-between-thumb-and-fingers dried thyme, the Better than Bouillon if you’ve chosen to use it, and half the nutmeg. Add a few twists of freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt.
Bring the water to a boil, then back the heat off and turn it to a moderate simmer. What I mean by moderate simmer is when bubbles are bursting quite regularly to the top of the surface, but the surface isn’t tossing and turning as the water beneath boils.
Simmer, uncovered, until the meat falls off the bones, and the carrots are totally mushy. This can take up to 3 hours. If the level of liquid falls off too much, add a little more.
When the soup’s cooked, remove from the heat and strain. You can strain through a colander with large holes lined with one layer of cheesecloth or through a wire mesh strainer (that’s what I use and I prefer the way it works). Here’s how I like to strain this soup.
Using a pair of tongs or a large strainer spoon, remove as much of the chicken as you can. The meat will have either fallen off the bones or be falling off the bones, but get both the bones and meat. Put the meat in a large bowl. When it’s cooled off sufficiently, either cut or tear it into bite sized pieces.
Strain the remainder of the soup through your strainer of choice – we are not going for a liquid crystal clear bouillon here but a bit more robust kind of broth, so a little bit of the sediment is just fine. Rinse the stock pot out.
Protip: Press hard on the solids in the strainer to get every trace you can of the succulent liquid!
Return the strained broth to your rinsed stock pot.
Chop the remaining veggies as follows:
Carrots – I like to cut the carrots into small cubes, but that’s just a finicky kind of thing I like because they look good, cook more quickly, and because I’m kind of obsessive. If you like, cut them into small cubes, otherwise, slice the carrot in half lengthwise, chop it into two or three large pieces, cut the pieces in half again lengthwise (quartering them), then slice them into bits about 1/8″+++ thick. It will be just as good.
Celery – slice on the bias into bite size slices.
Add the veggies and the chicken back into the soup. Add the ground coriander, the ground nutmeg, the ground turmeric, the ground allspice and the remaining thyme to the pot and stir.
Add the rice to the pot. Cook at a simmer until the rice is cooked through and the soup has thickened slightly.
Add the tomatoes and the roughly chopped leafy greens to the pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the greens wilt.
Add the lemon juice to the pot and stir.
Taste and adjust for seasoning, which generally means add a little more salt if you think it needs it, pepper as you like.
Serve with shaved bits of Parmesan cheese, toss a handful of fresh herbs onto the soup once its in the bowl and perhaps enjoy a good chunk of crusty bread on the side. It’s all you need.
Nourish! Heal! Live!!