(Leftover) Chicken Soup
As a native Californian, I am dreading the approach of my second winter here in Chicago. Of course, it has been “warm” and I’m still wearing my Fall coats (pretty much all I own coming from SF). At this time last year, it was already snowing and I was trudging around in my Uggs (shut up, they’re useful here) and my North Face parka.
With the temperature dropping and the right combination of leftovers in the fridge, I set about making chicken soup. There was 1/2 a roast chicken (and other random chicken bits that I squirreled in the freezer for times like this…a valuable habit I learned from my mom) in the freezer from a few months ago when we had people over for dinner but flew somewhere the very next day. There was garlic, carrots, and celery left over from the spicy peanut noodles that were threatening to turn. There was chicken broth, bouillion, and 1/3 bag of egg noodles left in the pantry. All I had to do was walk out to the corner market to pick up some potatoes…and while I was there, found some chayote squash that I knew would be tasty in the soup.
I’ve never cooked chayote squash myself but grew up eating it. My parents grew a lot of fruits and vegetables in our suburban backyard, so we always ate very fresh and very seasonally. My parents always made stir-fries and soups with the spiky chayote squash and I was craving a taste of home. The chayote at the market didn’t have any spikes so it would be even easier to try. A quick phone call to my Dad confirmed all I had to do was peel, chop, and soak it to get rid of some of the sticky resin.
Chicken Soup Ingredients:
- 1 small chicken
- 2 medium potatoes (diced)
- 1 carrot (chopped) (I had shredded carrots on hand and just used a handful of that)
- 4 stalks celery
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 1 slice ginger
- 1 chayote squash
- 2 cloves garlic (smashed)
- 2 chicken bouillion
- 1/3 lb. egg noodles (or any other pasta or rice)
- salt & pepper to taste
This chicken soup is super easy and doesn’t have a recipe (like many of my mom’s recipes).Everything is done to taste. Soup is very flexible and forgiving so have fun experimenting! You can use more stock/bouillion if you don’t have chicken on hand.
I boiled some water (and the leftover chicken broth I found in the fridge) and threw the frozen chicken, onions, garlic, and ginger and let it boil for a while. Skim the gunk off the top as the broth simmers. Take the chicken off the bone and set aside so the meat doesn’t get all mushy. Throw the rest of the vegetables in and simmer everything until it starts to look like chicken soup. Keep skimming the broth to get rid of all the gunk. Take out and discard the bones and ginger. Add chicken bouillion if your broth is too bland for your taste. Throw in the egg noodles when everything else is cooked to your satisfaction and when the noodles are done, you have chicken soup! If you find you have an imbalance of broth to vegetables, you can always add more broth or vegetables to get the right balance.
I like to put the soup in the fridge overnight so I can skim off all the fat in the morning…and soups tend to taste better if they’ve had time to sit anyway.
I find myself cooking a lot more these days for many reasons. Chopping and stirring is a relaxing distraction from the stresses of life. I miss the foods I took for granted in California. I have more time but less money as a student. I have a gorgeous kitchen that inspires me. I enjoy feeding people. The boy likes it. Cooking is something my mom loved–she did it for a living. When I moved out of the house, my mom always sent me recipes she thought I would like. When we were cleaning the house after she passed away, we found clipped recipes and cookbooks in every nook and cranny. I took a few of her handwritten notebooks and intend to cook some of those recipes at some point.