Ridiculously easy rotisserie chicken soup

I love rotisserie chickens, especially from Costco because they’re so cheap and are generally larger than those you find in the regular grocery store. But we never finish ours, and it drives me crazy that I can’t pick every piece of meat off the bones. That’s why I use the leftover carcass to make either broth or soup. It’s ridiculously easy to do, and it turns out a decent meal with minimal effort. Seriously minimal effort. If you’re uber lazy or pressed for time, buy pre-cut veggies and cut your prep time down to nothing.

Step 1: Buy a rotisserie chicken, cut it up, and use it for lunch/dinner.

Step 2: Cut the carcass in half and place it, any leftover meat, and all the juices and gelatin at the bottom of the container in the slow cooker. We had both wings, both drumsticks, and one thigh left on our chicken. In terms of flavor, the more chicken the merrier, so if you have several carcasses, throw them in.

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Step 3: Chop 1 large onion, 4 carrots, and 3 celery stalks. Cut 1 clove of garlic in half. Add to slow cooker. Notice I didn’t peel the garlic. So easy.

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Step 4: Add 1 TBSP dried thyme, 1 bay leaf, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp ground pepper to slow cooker. Fill to the top with water. (My grandmother always added lots of ginger to food when we were sick. She said it heats the body up and is good for the lungs.)

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Step 5: Cover and cook on high for 4.5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. (I’ve also just left it on overnight if I’m just doing broth. The vegetables turn to mush if you do this.)

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Step 6: Taste the broth for seasoning. Since we didn’t have that much chicken in our broth, I added about 2 tsp of chicken bouillon granules to put it over the edge from good to oh my goodness, I’m so happy.

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Step 7: Now, if you just want broth, all you have to do is strain the liquid into a container and toss the rest of the ingredients. But why do that when you’ve practically got chicken noodle soup right in front of you? So instead, pull the chicken bones out and use either a fork or chopsticks to pull the meat off the bones and put it back in the slow cooker. I also pulled the garlic halves out and squeezed the now roasted garlic back into the broth. (Look at how clean those bones are! Flavor, baby.)

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Step 8: Add precooked noodles and enjoy chicken noodle soup. Or, if you’re like my daughter, just enjoy it as-is.

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Ridiculously Easy Slow Cooker Soup or Broth

Ingredients:
1-2 rotisserie chicken carcasses (including juice and gelatin at the bottom) cut in half
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf
1 head of garlic, cut in half
1 TBSP dried thyme
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
water

Directions:
Add all ingredients to slow cooker and fill to the top with water. Cook on high for 4.5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. Taste for flavoring. If not “chickeny” enough, add up to 2 tsp of chicken bouillon and stir.

For broth only:
Strain liquid into another container and use in something else.

For chicken noodle soup:
Pull the chicken bones out of the broth and peel the remaining meat from them with either a fork or chopsticks. Using tongs, squeeze the garlic head halves and put the now roasted garlic back into the soup.

Cook your choice of noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain and add desired amount to serving bowl. Top with soup and enjoy.

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Cooking And An Ode To The Toaster Oven

With the heat being what it is, and our AC still barely limping along, that whole cooking thing? SO.NOT.HAPPENING.

Hubbs wants pasta for dinner? HAHAHA. I am NOT standing in front of a stove and cooking pasta in this heat. Tough luck, pal. You’re getting burgers cooked outside on the grill. But that was last night. Tonight, I’m actually thinking ahead. There IS one tool in the kitchen that you can use to cook things without heating up the entire house: the toaster oven

My favorite aunt introduced me to the toaster oven. It was originally a wedding gift that sat nearly unused for a year. Until I stopped by one day when she was cooking dinner for my uncle and herself. She blew my mind that afternoon. Two chicken breasts were BAKING in the toaster oven. In the same pan, she was roasting cherry tomatoes. She microwaved asparagus right before serving.

People, I had no idea such things were possible. This never occurred to me. But the logic is completely sound: She uses the toaster oven almost every day. It doesn’t heat up the house like the oven, and its FAST.

Since then, I’ve taken her advice to heart. I’ve used the toaster oven to:

  • Roast butternut squash for baby food;
  • Reheat eggrolls so they retain their crispiness;
  • Reheat fried chicken for the same reason;
  • Make chicken cordon bleu;
  • Roast chicken breasts.

And this is where my idea for dinner came from: Chicken Salad Sandwiches. Its easy to make, and excellent in hot weather. Plus — I can make part of it ahead of time and throw it together at the last minute. Did I mention it was easy?

My version is a bastardized version of an Ina Garten recipe. Here is the original recipe, courtesy of http://www.foodnetwork.com:

Ingredients

  • 4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 cup small-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup green grapes, cut in 1/2

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into a 3/4-inch dice. Place the chicken in a bowl; add the mayonnaise, tarragon leaves, celery, grapes, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and toss well.

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A few things: Hubbs HATES celery. So that’s out. And I prefer red seedless grapes, because I like the sweetness (and the pop of color). So those are two changes I’ve made. I’m also positive that I use less salt — although I don’t measure. Here’s how I do it:

1. Put 1 pkg of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in pan that will fit into the toaster oven (usually 3-4 pieces). Rub with olive oil and top with generous amount of fresh-ground sea salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees in toaster oven for 50 minutes. Let cool, then pull skins off and pull meat from the bones. I cut it into bite-sized pieces and put in a big mixing bowl. (At this point, you can put chicken in fridge to make later, but honestly? This is bomb when its still slightly warm.)

2. Use 1 large stem or 2 small stems of grapes and cut in half. Here’s a hint to make it go faster: Get two tupperware tops. Turn one tupperware top upside down (so grooves are facing ceiling). Fill with grapes. Put second tupperware top on top of grapes (also upside down). Take a sharp knife and cut between the two tupperware tops. SO. MUCH. FASTER. Add to chicken. (I needed to do this 3x to get all the grapes cut.)

3. Pull the leaves from the tarragon stems (like you’re using thyme) and chop coarsely. I eyeball it to taste. Tarragon has a slight licorice flavor. Now I HATE licorice — but I like tarragon. So if you’re on the fence, give it a try. Add to chicken and grapes.

4. Take a big spoon. Add about 1 scoop of mayo to the chicken. Mix well. If you like more mayo, add it. (I added about 1TBSP extra after taking this picture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

And here’s the finished product:

Service:
I’ve served this several ways: In sandwiches with spinach leaves; in lettuce cups (butter lettuce works very well); and served as-is on a plate with whole-wheat crackers.

The best part: Leftovers. The Hubbs and I fight over them. I should really remember to just double the recipe to cut down on the fighting/tupperware hiding.

Here’s to cooking … without really cooking!