Versatile and Simple Chicken Soup

Kate:

This is quite seriously the easiest chicken soup to throw together I’ve made.  It’s so versatile that you can almost make it as a last minute dinner.  I tend to call this my “Oh Sh*t Soup” because it seems I’m always starting it right after the kids get out of school, which doesn’t leave much time to cook a whole chicken!  I’ll start with the best way to make it then I’ll give you my variations. In a separate post I’ll share my family’s favorite way to eat the leftovers. Bear with me, I’m not great at measurements. I tend to just throw things in while I’m cooking without even thinking about measurements.

Ingredients:

  • Whole roaster chicken- raw or frozen
  • Chicken broth or bouillon
  • 1 pkg.(1 lb.) egg noodles
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onion (optional)
  • 2-4 bay leaves (depending on size)
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chicken broth or water (enough to cover chicken)

Directions:

  1. Put raw whole chicken in a crock pot or stock pot, cover with broth or water, add 2 large bay leaves (or more if smaller), parsley, oregano, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Turn on low heat.
  2. Slice as many or as few carrots, celery, and onion as your little heart desires, 1/4 to 1/2 inch, according to personal preferences, and add to simmering soup.
  3. Allow to simmer 3-4 hours, until meat is very tender and pulls away from the bone easily with a fork.

    There’s my frozen chicken! LOL

  4. Remove chicken from pot and let cool for a few minutes until you can handle it comfortably.
  5. Remove skin, and using a couple forks pull meat away from the bones in bite sized chunks.  Discard skin and bones.
  6. Search your simmering pot of vegetables for your bay leaves and remove.  Discard bay leaves.
  7. Return bite sized pieces of meat to the pot.  You may allow it to simmer at this stage if necessary because you should not add the noodles until you are nearly ready to eat.
  8. Add package of egg noodles about 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, leaving heat on low, allowing the noodles to cook in with the broth and vegetables.  Cook until noodles are done.
  9. Serve.

Now for the “Oh Sh*t” version that can be started after kids are out of school and still makes it to the table for dinner time:

  1. Run some hot tap water over a frozen chicken enough to loosen up the ice adhering it to the plastic packaging.
  2. Cut the packaging open, put whole frozen chicken into pot, add 3 boxes of chicken broth, bay leaves, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Heat on high, until the broth gets hot (but not boiling).
  3. Turn heat down to medium heat (turn to low if it begins to boil) and let simmer for 1-2 hours, until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Slice carrots, celery, and onion into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces, add to a frying pan, with a teaspoon of oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  5. Saute vegetables over medium heat until tender.

    Saute the veggies

  6. Remove chicken from the pot (be careful, that stupid chicken will be as hot as lava!), remove skin, and using a couple forks remove the meat in bite sized chunks.
  7. Fish your bay leaves out of the pot, and discard.
  8. Return bite sized meat chunks to the pot, and add sauteed vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add a package of egg noodles and allow to simmer on low or medium (as high as you can without boiling), until noodles are done.
  10. Serve.

Other variations my family enjoys:

  • adding rosemary for a slightly different flavor
  • using homemade egg noodles instead of prepackaged (I’ll share that recipe in another post someday, remind me!)
  • Using rice instead of noodles
  • Varying the vegetables, cut green beans and corn are great additions
  • Add a jar of diced tomatoes, with juice, to change it up
  • The variations really are endless, use your imagination and follow your taste buds (and tell us your favorite variations on a simple chicken soup recipe!  We would love to hear them!)
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Scrapple

For those of you not from the eastern part of the country Scrapple is a kind of pork “mush” that I grew up eating. Both of my parents were originally from Pennsylvania and I still have family in PA and New Jersey. Pennsylvania is the home of Scrapple.

The name comes from the fact that traditional Scrapple is made using the scraps left after a pig is butchered. My original recipe starts with the words, “Remove the eyes and clean the hog’s head carefully, being sure to scrape out the ears well.” DO NOT PANIC! I will not be using that recipe here.

Because of time constraints I’m making a “cheater’s version” of Scrapple. I use packaged country sausage. For those of you who want a more traditional version I’ll also post recipes using cuts of pork (nothing that will give you nightmares).

 

SCRAPPLE (Cheater’s Version)

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ lbs. country pork sausage

2 cups chicken broth

3 cups water divided

1 tsp. salt

¾ tsp. poultry seasoning

Pinch sage

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 additional cup water

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Butter for frying

 

DIRECTIONS:

Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

Break the sausage into small chunks.

Boil the sausage in 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups water for 15 – 20 minutes after mixture comes to a full boil. Continue to break up the sausage as the mixture cooks.

Drain the sausage reserving 3 cups of the stock.

Return stock to a boil and add salt, poultry seasoning, and sage.

Combine the additional cup of water with the cornmeal and gradually add it to the boiling stock, stirring constantly.

Cover and cook over a low heat for ten minutes. The cornmeal will thicken as it cooks.

Crumble the sausage to fine bits and combine with the cornmeal. Add several grinds of black pepper (to taste), mix well.

Pour the Scrapple into the loaf pan and cover with foil.

Refrigerate overnight or at least several hours.

 

To prepare, slice the Scrapple and fry the slices in butter until crisp.

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Traditionally Scrapple is served with syrup but my family always used ketchup and I still do.