Last week I took a whole chicken from roast to soup. It’s a great way to use most of the bird and translates to some seriously inexpensive yet healthy meals- and lots of them. There’s plenty of room for creativity and while it may be a little more effort up front than you’re used, it’s well worth it because you have meals for several days.
Here’s what my grocery list looked like and what I spent. It’s a little rough to estimate the cost of each produce item because I’ve got a few favorite farmers and buy most of my stuff from 2-3 spots at the Farmer’s Market.
Farmer’s Market Finds for $17.00 total (all organic):
3 large yellow onions
1.5 pounds carrots
1 fennel bulb
2 bunches Tuscan kale
1 garlic bulb
Bag of mixed baby green lettuce
4lb free range chicken: $9.00
Organic cannellini beans: $.89
1 head of organic celery: $1.99*
*Celery is one of those things you should buy organic. It’s on the Dirty Dozen list for containing one of the highest amounts of pesticides and herbicides
I followed Martha Stewart’s tips for roasting a chicken (largely because the recipe came with my roasting pan but she knows her birds). Martha suggests pouring stock at the bottom, but I didn’t have any so I just used water and threw some celery stalks in the pan as well.
Ingredients used: 1 lemon, 4 garlic cloves, 3 celery stalks, 1 onion
While the chicken was roasting, I sliced several carrots, the fennel, parsnips and a few whole, peeled cloves of garlic and a few fresh sage leaves from my garden. I tossed that combo in some olive oil, a little sea salt and pepper, threw them on a cookie sheet and popped those in the oven too. I’d say about 45-50 minutes depending on your desired tenderness. The sage got all crunchy and tasted like a gourmet French fry – delish. The whole combo was delish in fact. Once the chicken was done, I pulled off some breast meat for dinner with roasted veggies, and it was plenty for 2 people.
After dinner when the chicken was cool, I pulled all the meat off and set aside and put it in the fridge. Most will go back in the soup, but some I saved for tomorrow’s lunch to throw on my mixed baby greens with some leftover roasted veggies. I poured the roasting pan drippings into a soup pot along with all the scraps from the chicken and filled with water, threw in a few more garlic cloves, bay leaf, sea salt, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and let simmer as long as your heart desires but at least 1.5 hours. I let it cool, and threw the whole thing in the fridge because I was way over cooking for the evening.
Sassy Tip: Cooling your stock in the fridge solidifies that fat, so it is very easy to remove the next day.
Soup for Day 2 Dinner
I skimmed the fat off, the strained the stock to remove the bones. Ideally, you’d let the stock simmer on low heat to make a reduction – which removes water and gives you a richer, more concentrated flavorful stock. I, however, did not but will try next time. I sautéed the veggies, threw the stock back in with the meat and flavored the soup with paprika, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. You may need to add a bouillon, or stock in a box if it is too bland for you. I let that simmer for about 45 minutes, then added the can of beans. In another 20 minutes, I rinsed the 2 bunches of kale, chopped coarsely, and threw those in the soup as well for another 5-10 minutes. Delish.
Ingredients used: onion, leek, carrots (the rest of them), garlic, beans, and kale.
I spent about $29.00 total. There were 3 meals just from the roast chicken and veggies (2 dinners, 1 lunch) plus about 8-10 servings of soup. That’s roughly $2.30 per meal– and everything was organic so take that naysayers.