IMG_1936About 3 times a year we travel to visit my in-laws for a few days. To make it easy on everyone, we all typically eat out for dinner, except on the first night of our stay. It’s been a long drive and everyone’s a bit tired, so my mother-in-law, Jane, makes a simple dinner in. Sometimes it’s lasagna, other times it’s pizza. The last few times we’ve been down she made us chicken soup, probably because of how much I rave about how yummy it is! I finally remembered to ask her for the recipe and I’ve since made it several times.

It is delish.

The whole chicken is by far one the thriftiest purchase you can make at the grocery store. Why? You can get:

  • 3 dinners made from one 5 pound bird, or
  • 2 dinners and at least 6 cups of homemade chicken broth, or
  • 6 cups of shredded chicken meat that will yield at least 3 dinners

Either way, buying a whole chicken is thrifty goodness that comes straight out of your kitchen.

I like to wait for the organic chickens to go on sale. I picked up 3 birds last week when the chickens were down to $1.00 per pound. Oh, the dream of a deep freezer beckons!

The past 3 days I have made 3 different dinners with 1 chicken. I baked the chicken on Friday after rubbing it down with olive oil and covering it with an array of spices. We had chicken alongside some steamed veggies and rice pilaf.

After dinner, I took a good portion of meat off the chicken carcass (about 2 cups worth) and put the entire carcass (including remaining meat on the bones and any skin) in a plastic bag and stuck it in the fridge. If I wasn’t making a dinner with in 1 or 2 days, I would just label the bag, freeze it and then use the carcass at a later point to make chicken broth.

IMG_1105Saturday I made chicken enchiladas with the 2 cups of meat I had pulled off the night before. I highly recommend making your own enchilada sauce. It’s a little cheaper, about 20 minutes to simmer, and the taste is so much better than the canned stuff. I recommend this recipe, but there are plenty of good enchilada sauce recipes out there!

IMG_1109Sunday morning I chopped up some onions and celery leaves and added them to the chicken carcass in the slow cooker. I threw in some seasonings and about 12 cups of water, turned IMG_1127it to “high” for 1 hour and then turned it to “low” for about 4 hours. I pulled the carcass out of the slow cooker along with any other bones that I could find and with 2 forks, I picked through the carcass to separate the chicken meat from the bones. Threw the meat back in along with some chopped up celery and carrots and let that stew for another hour. I turned off the slow cooker and let it all sit for another 2 hours before I added 2 cups (or so) of cooked noodles.

Voila. Dinner number 3:

IMG_1135

That chicken cost me $5.00 and yielded 3 delicious dinners.

Here’s my mother-in-law’s recipe, only she uses her stockpot on the stove. Follow my directions above if you try it in the slow cooker.

Jane’s Chicken Soup

1 chicken carcass with meat

1 sliced carrots

10-11 cups of water

2 sliced celery stalks

10 chicken bouillon cubes (I use 5 Knorr extra-large cubes)

4 sliced mushrooms (optional)

1/2 cup chopped celery leaves

a couple sprigs of parsley

1/2 red onion, chopped

ground pepper and garlic powder, to taste

1. Start the soup at 8am. Using a soup kettle, put in chicken carcass, chopped celery leaves, bouillon cubes, water, pepper, garlic powder and onion. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low.

2. Around 1pm, take the bones and remaining carcass out and cool on cutting board (make sure you have all the bones out of the soup). Separate the meat from the carcass.

3. Put remaining meat, mushrooms, carrots and celery into the soup kettle. Cook for about an hour on low, then turn the kettle off.

4. At 4:00, boil 2 cups of noodles in a separate pan. Drain and add to rest of soup.

5. Heat when ready to serve. Works well with turkey meat, too.

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