Thursday, May 19, 2011

Money Saving Chicken Soup

The people that know me, know that I don't like to waste anything.

The other day I bought a rotisserie chicken from Costco for $4.99 and made dinner for two families--Quick and Easy Pasta with Asparagus & Grape Tomatoes.

I'm going to get another meal out of that rotisserie chicken by using the bones to make chicken soup.

Chicken Soup is a favorite meal at our house.

(I'll add a printable recipe at the end of this post.)

Isn't Chicken Soup comfort food for everyone?


This is the rotisserie chicken I bought from Costco.

I separated the meat from the bones and shredded it for the pasta dish.

See the bones in the background?

That's what I used to make soup.

Put the bones in a large pot and cover with cold water.

Slowly bring to a boil and skim off the fat and foam that rises to the surface.

Simmer it slowly on low heat for two hours.

Three hours will cause the cartilage to start to dissolve and the broth will gelatinize when cold, which is a good thing.

My grandmother said that will make your nails & bones strong.

Remove the bones from the pot with a strainer, being careful to remove all the bones from the broth.

When the bones are cool, separate the remaining meat from the bones.

As I'm separating the meat from the bones, I am mindful of the Sunday School lessons I learned as a little girl--

I have gratitude for the chicken that gave his life to nourish our bodies.

Show respect--don't waste it.

(That's my addition.)

This is the meat from the bones.

I had a little bit of chicken left from the pasta dish, so I will add that, too.

To the broth, I added 1/2 cup barley.

It takes about 45 minutes to cook, so best add that first.

Barley adds a nice heartiness to soup.

Chop 4 carrots, one medium onion and 1/2 a whole head of celery, leaves and all.

The whole thing is called a head of celery and it's made up of stalks--but one is called a rib? 

Or is the head called a bunch?

Not really sure, my dad didn't grow celery so I'm not familiar with celery lingo.

Chop two cloves of garlic.

I had some cabbage, so I put in a large slice, chopped into bite-sized pieces.

Cabbage gives the soup a lot of flavor.

Put all the vegetables into the pot and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.

Add some herbs.

I had some fresh rosemary.

And some dried thyme and oregano.

After 10 minutes, taste the broth and adjust the flavorings.

Time to see what kind of noodles to add.

I had some leftover orecchiette pasta.

And some macaroni.

Boil the pasta separately.

If you put it directly in the soup, you won't have much broth left.

But if your soup is not very full-bodied, you could add some noodles and that will help concentrate the flavor--or add a can of chicken broth.

Drain the noodles.

The first day we have this chicken soup, we add the noodles to our bowls and ladel the soup over them, but with the leftovers, the noodles are added to the pot when the soup is reheated.

Top with some chopped parsley or cilantro.



The people that know me, know that I don't like to waste anything.

"Mottainai"--is a Japanese word I often use meaning, "how wasteful".

My parents and grandparents lived through hard economic times--my grandparents immigrating to the US from Japan in the 1920's, in hopes of a better life--not unlike most other immigrants.

My parents, too, had to live through economic hardship after being released from relocation camp after World War II, losing everything my grandparents worked for, and having to start over.

 This was my dad's family home.

My dad was the oldest son--when my grandfather got sick and couldn't work anymore, a lot of responsibility came to him to help the family make a living.

When he was growing up, he wished he could have played sports, but he had to work in the fields.

I've had the luxury to grow up in a different time, and haven't known that kind of hardship, but I was raised to know mottainai.

You don't waste things.

I remember my mother telling us about my grandfather butchering chickens for a special meal.

When I was little, my friend Joy had chickens. I remember her telling me about eggs that would still be inside the chickens--having hadn't been laid yet--and how fascinating that was to her.

We're so far removed from meat as live animals--even from my parents' time when they ate chicken--only when they'd have company on Sundays and it was a special meal.

 We didn't eat any of the chickens we raised when my children were little, we had them as pets.

I talked about the kids and the chickens here.

I think it's a good thing to have learned mottainai.

I hope my children have learned it too.


Money Saving Chicken Soup


chicken bones
celery, carrots & onion

rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley

Put the chicken bones in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Slowly bring to a boil, cover, and simmer slowly for at least two hours.

Remove the bones from the pot, cool, take the meat off the bones and set aside.

Add 1/2 cup pearl barley to soup.

Chop about 1 1/2 cups carrots, 1/2 a head of celery (about 2 cups), 1 medium onion, 2 cups cabbage and 2 cloves garlic and add to the soup pot. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Season soup with your favorite dried or fresh herbs, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley and/or cliantro. After a few minutes, taste the broth and adjust the flavorings. Salt & pepper to taste.

Boil 3 cups of pasta and drain, add pasta to individual soup bowls and ladle hot soup over the noodles. 


  1. Thanks for this recipe. I would throw away the bones every time. I am so glad that I found you. Hee hee.


  2. I have always made the soup from the bones, and have started a pot tonight. My mother taught me, as well to cook frugally, but when I was worked I forgot and splurged too often. Now that I am disabled I find that the lessons my mother taught me have serve me well. I have fed 5 people for two days on the meat of a .69/pound chicken (2.96)some noodles and a bit of pantry items I had on hand.