Leftover Soup

I call my homemade soup leftover soup for the obvious reason; many of the ingredients of each batch are leftovers from my fridge or freezer.  Meat, vegetables, broth, gravy, rice, quinoa; anything and everything goes.

I make my own broth by keeping the pan drippings from roast chicken, turkey or beef in a container in my freezer, all mixed together.  As soon as each addition to the container starts to freeze, i scrape off and discard the fat that has risen to the top.  I also add any excess liquid from steamed vegetables to the bucket in the freezer. Then when the day comes to make soup, out comes the container to use for the base of the soup.  This is a simple, healthy and delicious way to make broth without added artificial flavors or preservatives.  If you are really organized and efficient, you can pour the broth into ice cube trays to be frozen individually instead of all together in a bucket.  This works well when you only need a few spoonfuls of broth for a recipe. I prefer the bucket method.

The broth is flavored with the roasted onions and garlic that I always add to  the bottom of the roasting pan before cooking meat.  The onions and garlic brown up nicely when cooked this way, adding color and flavor to the pan drippings.  These pan drippings can be used to baste the roasting meat and then to either make gravy when the meat is done cooking, or to add to my broth bucket in the freezer.

The other thing I freeze for homemade soup is chicken or turkey bones.  When the carcass is almost picked clean after a roast dinner, i stick it in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer until soup day.  Simmered in a pot of water with added spices such as cilantro, basil or bay leaves, it makes a great base for soups too.  If it appears too watery, I just add some of the broth from  my bucket.

I have also frozen broccoli stalks to add to simmering soup stock for added flavor.  I store them in a freezer bag as well after removing them from the florets anytime I serve broccoli as a vegetable. Once cooked, the stocks can be pureed in a blender to thicken the soup or chopped and added to the finished soup in chunks.  It is amazing what nutritious vegetables you can hide in a soup!

Once I have the base prepared, I add rice, quinoa or beans for texture and heartiness, as well as any other fresh vegetables I have on hand such as grape or cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.  Frozen corn is always an option too for added crunch to the soup.  Occasionally I will roast a batch of mushrooms, onions and peppers to add to the soup pot.  Just before serving, I often add a few tablespoons of jalapeno flavored tzatziki to give the soup a little kick.  See a previous post on this miracle ingredient Skotidakis

The only problem with this leftover soup is, no two batches of soup are ever the same!  When one turns out particularly well, it is difficult to remember what exactly was in it.  My mother-in-law used to love my  homemade soup, but would get quite frustrated when I couldn’t produce a recipe for her to follow to make her own.

The Best Gluten-free Chicken Chili Recipe

A few days ago I made the best gluten-free chicken chili in my slow cooker.  My husband said it was the best “soup” he has ever tasted.  Regardless of what you call it, chili or soup, it was fantastic.  The only problem is, as usual, i did not follow a recipe, so the measurements I am giving you are approximations only.  These quantities are for my family of five with leftovers (hopefully) for the next day…

-5 uncooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts

-2 cans white kidney beans, well rinsed and drained

2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms

-1 cup chopped spanish onion

-2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes

-1 cup roasted red peppers (cut up two sweet red peppers, toss in a bowl with olive oil, bake the peppers on a cookie sheet at 400 until they start to turn black at the edges)

-2 cups green tea (i know, sounds gross, but I didn’t have any fresh chicken broth and needed some liquid, not to mention green tea is good for you!)

-2 tsp each chili powder and curcumin (or more chili powder if you like it HOT)

-2 tsp minced garlic

I cooked the above ingredients for 6 hours on the low setting of my slow cooker, then removed the chicken breasts, chopped them up, and returned them to the pot.  At this point I also squished the tomatoes against the side of the slow cooker to make them burst.  I then let the concoction simmer for another hour on low heat.

Approximately 20 minutes before serving, I turned off the heat on the slow cooker, and then added 1 cup of jalapeno flavored Greek yogurt, (see my last post about this amazing product http://lorieb.com/2013/11/10/my-favorite-gluten-free-secret-ingredient-skotidakis-jalapeno-flavored-greek-yogurt/) and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  I buy the yogurt at Costco and use it in many recipes instead of sour cream or cream cheese.  It provides a nice, mildly spicy flavor and adds much less fat.  This is my secret ingredient that I use to thicken any sauces, soups, and gravies without adding gluten.

You can serve this chicken chili up in a bowl with a sprinkling of shredded cheese or a dollop of the greek yogurt on top, or even on a plate over a bed of rice.  Left over the next day, this chicken chili tastes even better as is often the case with many stew, chili, or soup recipes.  That is if there are any leftovers to be found!