The roast chicken I made last night was perfect! So good that, upon opening the refrigerator this morning, I am faced with the evidence of our sins; over indulgence; gluttony… No reminder quite as stern, as a nearly decimated chicken carcass. Not picked totally clean, mind you! No, we showed a certain level of restrain; mostly the result of food coma onset.
So, how does one atone for this? What to do with the gleanings of this once proud bird? I’m thinking soup!
While contemplating the thick puddle of fat my once feathered culinary cohort is residing in, I conclude that overindulgence is something he/she could have clearly related to. Fat = Flavor! This is gonna be wonderful stock to make my soup with. (If you aren’t familiar with making stock from scratch, I have included instruction at the bottom of the recipe)
Further perusal of the fridge’s deeper recesses produces a poblano, one lonely roma tomato, an onion, half of a delicata squash, a couple carrots and some celery. I’m getting ideas! Diligence yields fresh corn tortillas, cilantro and avocado! Yup! I’m going to make
This can be a complicated soup or a very simple soup. I think of it as Mexican Refrigerator Soup. Once you have the basics, there are many additional ingredients that are good in it.
If you are in a hurry, grab some commercial stock and do a quick poach with fresh chicken. I prefer to use thighs for the flavor, but you can use breast meat if you would rather.
Mire poix ~ minced onion, carrot & celery
Mildly Hot Pepper – you can use whatever heat level you enjoy. If using a larger pepper, like a poblano, you will need to roast and peel it before mincing. The seeds contain a lot of the heat. I usually discard them. I want the flavors in balance.
Sweet red pepper, seeded and minced
Using a soup pot, start cooking the mire poix in the olive oil. You want to sweat it down with moderate heat. When it’s about half done, add the peppers, and garlic. Continue to cook. I like to also put my spices in at this time. The heat opens up the flavors for maximum impact. When the vegetables are done add the rest of the ingredients
Chopped or shredded chicken meat
Tomato – I prefer to have the chicken element at the forefront, so chose to use a small amount of V-8. If you want more tomato, by all means use your favorite tomato puree or even roasted & chopped tomato.
Salt and pepper to taste
Other ingredients that work well:
Beans, corn, winter squash, and/or a small amount of chiffonade baby kale at the finish
Corn tortillas (check ingredients to be sure they do not contain any wheat) Cut into julienne strips
Avocado, cut into small bites
Cilantro rough chopped
Fry the tortillas just before it’s time to plate. Fry them quickly, either in a deep fryer or using stove top method. Toss with salt and allow to drain.
Mix the avocado, cilantro and lime in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To plate: place some fried tortilla in the bottom of the bowl. Top with a ladle of soup. Top with the avocado salad. Garnish with additional tortilla strips and serve.
This is a fun recipe to play around with. It’s super easy to avoid: gluten, soy, nuts, and dairy
How to make stock from left over chicken
Remove as much of the meat as possible. Set aside. Place the carcass in a stock pot and cover with cold water. Add aromatics, ie: onion, celery, carrot, fresh lemon, bay leaf, cinnamon stick. I do NOT add salt to my stock. I prefer to have total control of the salt levels in the dishes I make. Salt in the stock can be quite the ‘wild card’ detail to work around. Making stock from a left over roast chicken, can have some salt remaining from the initial roasting. Just be aware of it.
Allow your stock to come to a full simmer and hold it there for an hour, or more. The longer it cooks, the more flavor it will have.
For soup, I don’t generally remove the resulting fat. I want that flavor in the finished product. If I am using the stock for sauces, etc. I definitely do not want it. To remove, allow the stock to cool in the refrigerator. The health department recommends the stock be no more then two inches deep while cooling. This should be a small enough batch of stock that that won’t be a problem. Do be aware of other ingredients in the refrigerator stored near the cooling liquid. You don’t want them to become warm.
Once the liquid is fully cooled, the fat will rise to the surface. Simply scoop it off.
It is possible to carefully skim off a lot of the fat with a ladle, while it’s hot, but cooling first gets more and gives a chance for the flavors in the fat to meld with the liquid.