Thrifty cooks have long understood the importance of getting all the mileage they can out of the food they purchase, which of course includes any meat they use. There was little waste in the kitchens of old, and cooks would make use of many things that we tend to throw away today.
In the case of soup, in particular, it was never meant to be made with prime cuts of meat. Quite the contrary. It was meant to stretch the food budget and avoid waste.
Mom had other soups that she made with leftover bones, but this one is a true classic that is good for whatever ails you. It really hits the spot and is sure to become a family favorite. My sons definitely rank this as one of their all-time most beloved meals.
This recipe makes 10-12 hearty servings, takes only about 15 minutes of prep time (about 35-45 minutes total cook time), and costs only about $6 to make. Served with a nice loaf of whole grain bread and a tossed, green salad, it still comes in at a low-budget cost of around $1.25-$1.50 per person.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 8-12 hearty servings – freezes very well
Prep time - Approx. 15 minutes
Start to finish time – as little as 45 minutes, but is best if it simmers an hour or more
Total recipe cost – Approx. $6-$8.00
Total per person meal cost with salad and bread - Approx. $1.25
Leftover roast whole chicken or turkey with whatever meat is left on it
16 cups of water
6-8 large carrots
1 medium onion
3-4 stalks of celery
2 cups smaller type pasta (rotini, large egg noodles, bow ties, macaroni, or similar)
2 cups of frozen peas
1-2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1 tablespoon dried parsley (optional)
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- Remove any skin and most of the meat from the bones of the cooked chicken or turkey. Discard the skin and set the meat aside.
- Put the bones in the 16 cups of water in a large covered pot over high heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer.
- Meanwhile peel and dice the medium onion.
- Wash and dice the 3-4 stalks of celery.
- Wash and scrub or peel the 6-8 large carrots and cut them into ½-inch chunks.
- Add the cut vegetables to the soup and continue to simmer, covered, over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until tender.
- While the vegetables are cooking, cut the meat you removed from the bones into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- When the soup vegetables are done, place a colander over another pot or heat-proof bowl and place it next to the soup pot. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the largest chicken bones and place them in the colander.
- Move the colander and pot/bowl to the sink and carefully pour the soup broth into the colander to catch the vegetables and all the bones. (Removing the larger pieces beforehand helps prevent splattering of the scalding liquid.) Allow the vegetables to drain into the bowl or second pot for a minute or so and then remove the colander with the vegetables and bones from the pot and place it in the sink.
- Place the strained broth in a covered pot over high heat, and return it to a simmer.
- Add the 2 cups of pasta to the broth and resume boiling over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered for 6-10 minutes, until the pasta is tender.
- While the pasta is cooking, carefully pick out all the bones from the vegetables in the colander and remove any additional meat from them that comes off easily. Discard the bones.
- When the pasta is done, carefully return the cooked vegetables in the colander to the broth, along with the cut up meat. Stir to distribute well.
- Stir in the 2 cups of peas, the 1 tablespoon of optional parsley, and about 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper, or to taste. Reduce the burner to low, cover the pan and heat through for about 5 minutes.
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