Tuesday, 14 December 2010

CHICKEN SOUP FOR US ALL


It's that time of year again, when porridge always sounds good for breakfast, followed by a soup and pudding lunch. Not being of the right stuff to be able to kill my own chickens, I have to buy mine from the supermarket, so it's a case of a freezer full of chicken when our nearest supermarket has them on a half price offer. They have just such an offer running at the moment, alongside half price beef, ham and gammon roasts, so the freezer is full. I managed to cram it all in along with all the frozen fruit and veg, breadcrumbs and tomato based sauces that accumulate throughout the summer.
Roast chicken in this house, since the arrival of 'George', my pot belly stove, means slow cooking the bird in a roasting tin on top of the log burner. I normally put about a litre of water in the bottom and then sit the whole chicken on top of the wire rack, where it probably steams more than it roasts. A few vegetables can be cooked around the edges and a sprinkling of mixed herbs and salt over the lot of it helps add extra flavour. I have indulged in placing some smoked bacon over the top, too, but that's just for special occasions.

First day is roast dinner with gravy, potatoes and mixed veggies, second day is soup-making day. The majority of the meat has already been removed and portioned up for piemaking, curries, stir fry and/or sweet  and sour but what's left stays on the bones, then the whole thing gets slow cooked overnight to produce about 5 litres of stock. 

Last night I made the stock, so today was soup-making day... Only the soup has turned out more like stew! Having drained the stock, I did as I usually do - added onions, a chopped leek and a few carrots then rounded it off with a good dose of rice. It's well seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs, so I water it down to allow for the rice absobing the stock. Things were looking good.
I'd to pop into town to take a neighbour for her shopping - being frugal, we car share. Only problem was, I had absent mindedly turned the slow cooker to high instead of off completely! There was someone in the house at the time, but I'd had no reason to let them know the soup needed any attention. Got back 2 hours later to find the rice had almost filled the pan! I've had to water it down again and now have enough soup to feed a small nation. Looks like neighbours on both sides will be getting knocks on their doors and I've posted out an offer through Galloway LETS (Local Exchange Trading Scheme) to see who else needs some. There's certainly enough chicken soup for us all!
That's not bad for a £3.84 family sized chicken - 4 meals and 5+ litres of soup. Sad thing is, with all this frugal living, there's never any space in the freezer for any inadvertent over-production hiccups in the food department.
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