I’ve had this lingering feeling for the past week that I can’t seem to shake. I’m not sick, but it’s almost like I’m “fighting something.” Maybe it’s the weather change or those seasonal allergies that tend to hit me during the winter. Have you felt that way? Let’s just say I’m not operating at 100%. Whenever this feeling comes around, I know it’s time for Jewish penicillin – chicken soup! Just what the doctor (and grandma!) ordered.
Sometimes my best cooking tips come from you, my readers. A few years ago, a reader commented to let me know that they make their soup stock using a rotisserie chicken. This might seem counter-intuitive– after all, rotisserie chickens are already cooked, why cook them again?– but stick with me here. The rotisserie-roasted chicken bones produce a rich, dark, strongly flavored stock. The chicken is seasoned and salted, so you don’t need to add much in the way of flavoring to the stock– a few veggies, some herbs (fresh dill is key!), and a pinch of spices. Throw in some rice, let it all simmer together, and you’ve got a healthy, hearty, winter soup. It’ll cure what ails you, and taste good doing it!
Now, don’t go using a barbecue rotisserie chicken, or anything with a strong flavoring or sauce. Herb, lemon herb, garlic and plain salt-and-pepper rotisserie birds work best here. This is also a great tip for getting the most out of your rotisserie chicken– eat the chicken, then use the bones (along with the veggies, herbs and spices outlined below) to create a yummy stock that you can freeze and keep for later!
- 1 2-lb rotisserie chicken
- 15 black peppercorns
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium yellow onion, rinsed and halved, skin on
- 4 large celery stalks, sliced (divided)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced (divided)
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup white or brown rice
- 1/4 cup chopped dill
- Salt to taste
You will also need
- 2 large 6-8 quart pots, mesh strainer
- Carve the rotisserie chicken, pulling the meat in pieces from the bones. Reserve the meat.
- Place the chicken carcass, skin and fat into a 6-quart pot. Cover with 4 quarts (16 cups) of water. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to the top.
- Add the peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, onion, 2 sliced celery stalks (feel free to include celery leaves), 1 sliced carrot, parsley and 2 tsp salt to the pot. Do not add the rice yet. Reduce to a low simmer (do not boil after this point, only simmer on low). Let the stock cook for 90 minutes. While stock is cooking, slice the reserved chicken into bite-sized pieces. Cover in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
- When the stock is fully cooked, strain it through a mesh strainer into another clean large pot.
- Discard the carcass and vegetables from the stock. At this point, if you'd like, you can skim some of the fat off of the top of the strained stock. I prefer to leave the fat, it makes the soup taste better and richer. Add the reserved bite-sized chicken pieces to the strained stock along with the remaining fresh sliced carrot, celery stalks, rice and dill. You may use either white or brown rice; keep in mind that brown rice will hold up better for leftovers, while white rice has a tendency to dissolve a bit in the stock over time. Bring back to a low simmer (not a full boil). Add additional salt and black pepper to taste, if desired. I like lots of black pepper! Simmer the mixture for about 30 minutes longer or until the rice is cooked and the vegetables are tender.
- Serve hot and enjoy! It's good for the body, good for the soul.