A Variation on a Theme: Slow-Cooker Chicken One Night, Chicken Soup the Next

img_5078Last week at our local grocery store, chicken was on sale, and chicken was what I bought. They were little roasters, and I picked up 2 of them, one for the freezer and one for immediate use. Usually, when I buy roasters, I, well, roast them in the oven and then make soup with whatever is leftover. This time, however, I decided to do everything in the slow-cooker, which has become my favorite small appliance. (If I had children at home, I would invest in 2 slow-cookers so that I could make twice as much and have leftovers.)

For meal 1, I cut up some carrots and potatoes—I wish I had cut up more—and put them in the bottom of the slow-cooker. I sprinkled salt and pepper on them and added 3/4 cup of water. On top of the vegetables, I put the little chicken and sprinkled more salt and pepper along with some dried thyme and sage. (No, Shannon, I didn’t measure.) At this point, onion or garlic could have been added, but I wanted the meat and vegetables to be mellow, so I left them out.

I set the slow-cooker on high, and four hours later we had succulent chicken and tender vegetables made so tasty by the broth that they didn’t need butter. (The skin is the weak point with chicken in a slow-cooker. It is slimy rather than crisp, but as I told Clif, we shouldn’t be eating the skin anyway.) There was a nice amount of broth at the bottom of the crockery, and as I have a big refrigerator, I just put the crockery with the broth on the top shelf. The leftover chicken went on a plate of its own.

The next morning, I skimmed the fat from the broth in the crockery, put the crockery in the slow-cooker, and turned it on to high. I added the leftover chicken and bones; 4 small cloves of garlic, cut in half; 1 whole onion, peeled; 2 ribs of celery, cut in big chunks; 2 big carrots, unpeeled and cut in big chunks; 1 small bay leaf; 3 whole cloves, stuck in the celery; a teaspoon of salt; some ground pepper; and finally, water to cover the bones. I am letting this simmer for about 5 hours.

As I write, I can smell simmering soup. I’ve tasted the broth, of course, and it tastes exactly the way it should. In a little while, I will strain the soup and pick the meat from the bones. As we ate most of the potatoes and carrots I cooked yesterday, I’ll boil some potatoes and carrots to a add to the soup. (Next time, I will indeed cook more with the first meal.)

“Corn bread or bran muffins to go with the soup?” I asked Clif.

“Bran muffins.”

So we’ll have chicken soup with bran muffins tonight, and it’s my guess there will be enough leftovers for another meal of soup and muffins. Not bad for a 5-pound bird.

In fact, I would say it was down-right frugal.

 

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