Category Archives: The Leftover Project

The Leftover Project: Lentil Soup in the New Kitchen

The kitchen 1

The kitchen is finished! Welcome, new temple of culinary rites. Welcome, new heart of our home. Farewell to camping in the living room.

The kitchen 2

For the past six weeks, we’ve been subsisting on what could be grilled in the back yard or quickly prepared in the “camp kitchen” a mini-microwave, an electric skillet and a slow cooker. The trouble with cooking in the living room as that pervasive odors, like garlic, cling to the furniture. There’s a reason we don’t put sofas in the kitchen.

Thank goodness for take-out. I’ve eaten more sushi in the past month than in the previous year. But take-out food is expensive, and I’ve really missed cooking. The first dish I made in the new kitchen was pasta, something I just couldn’t prepare on the grill. And last night the weather turned from warm May splendor back to our usual gray drizzle. Time for lentil soup!

Lentil soup is a worthy addition to my leftover project, a collection of basic recipes to help me (and perhaps you?) use up leftovers before they go to waste. According to the United Nations Environmental Program, “about one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When this figure is converted to calories, this means that about 1 in 4 calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten. In a world full of hunger, volatile food prices, and social unrest, these statistics are more than just shocking:  they are environmentally, morally and economically outrageous.”

Knowing this, I feel like a complete cretin when, because I haven’t paid attention to what’s in my fridge, I end up discarding food that’s become too old to eat. It feels like throwing money directly into the garbage can, not to mention the natural resources involved, and the work of all the people who produced, transported and packaged that food. Thus, the Leftover Project.

Lentil soup is a delicious way to use up leftover bits of this and that. I often throw in greens that are starting to wilt, sad tomatoes, and bits of cooked meat. Today’s version was pretty much the basic recipe, and gave a home to some slightly soggy celery and a lone potato that would otherwise have melted into gooey oblivion.

Here’s the basic recipe to serve six. We’re only two, but I freeze the rest for I-don’t-wanna-cook days.

  • First, I chop up 2-4 peeled carrots, 2-4 stalks celery, including the leaves, and a big ol’ onion, chopped, or all the bits of various onions, green onions, shallots, and/or leeks I have lying around, to equal the volume of one large onion. I sauté all this in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. (Doesn’t that sound like a term of affection? Come on over here, my heavy-bottomed soup pot.) Put the lid on and sweat the veggies for about five minutes over medium heat.

The veggies

  • Now, I throw in 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced (more would be fine). If you’re adding greens, like spinach, kale, etc., now would be the time to shred or chop them up and throw them in. If your greens are already cooked, throw them in later, toward the end. Anyway, I also add a few bay leaves and stir this for a few minutes, then pour in about eight cups of water and the lentils—any type. This time I used the green ones which hold their shape in the finished soup. The brown ones soften up and dissolve more, making a more velvety soup. Nothing’s stopping you from using your stick blender (AKA immersion blender) to partially puree the finished soup, if you prefer a creamier consistency. You could use red lentils too, but they seem to call for Middle Eastern or Indian seasonings, whereas the green ones feel more French, Spanish or Italian. Last night we were heading toward Italy, so I added several grinds of black pepper and a good shake of Penzi’s Tuscan Sunset herb blend (so good!) and let the lentils simmer for about forty minutes.
  • While the lentils cooked, I squish the guts out of six raw chicken Italian sausage from Trader Joe’s. I brown that up and set aside half the pan for future dishes—I love this crumbled sausage in my stuffed peppers, zucchini or eggplant—also great vehicles for leftovers.
  • When the lentils are starting to soften, I add about a tablespoon of beef bouillon concentrate, the stuff in a jar. You could use the chicken concentrate or the veggie. I dump in a can (14 oz.) of diced tomatoes, two medium potatoes, peeled and diced, and the sausage, which could just as easily have been replaced with diced ham, roast beef or chicken, or even vegetarian sausage.
  • And here it is! It turns out I’d grabbed the spicy sausage, which gave the soup just a bit of a kick. Delicious!

Lentil soup

After dinner, we went to Tacoma’s B Sharp Coffee House to hear the T-Town Blues Review. Vocalist Paul Green roared on harmonica, and the excellent band raised the roof. What a great evening.

T-Town Blues Review 2

What’s your favorite way to use up leftovers?

R is for Real Food

Rfruits and veggies

“Just keepin’ it real” is a popular phrase these days. Authenticity is a quality I admire greatly, especially in our culture, which promotes phoniness at every turn. One of the most important arenas for keeping it real is on our plates.

So many health problems are due to eating fake food. Of course, processed foods are tasty (if overly-salted and overly-sweetened foods are what you’re used to), cheap and easy. Our federal government provides generous subsidies to growers of corn, and soy, making high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soy oil available to food manufacturers at rock-bottom prices. Take a stroll through the center aisles of your supermarket, where the bulk of the processed foods are found, and just try to find a processed item that doesn’t contain one of these. And even if they don’t use HFC, food manufacturers put added sugar into the most amazing places: salad dressing, sauces, all sorts of instant dinners and side dishes—dehydrated or frozen—bread, salty crackers, chips…it boggles the mind.

And we’ve all read how food manufacturers manipulate the terrible trio of fat, salt and sugar to make processed foods addicting. Judging by the crap I see in the supermarket carts of my fellow shoppers, especially the folks who are obviously in poor health, I don’t think addiction is too strong a word for processed foods’ hold on us. And it’s not just our weight that suffers when we eat too much of this junk; consumption of processed foods has been linked to cancers, gout, heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, allergies, and even Alzheimer’s disease. That shit will literally kill you.

As you can tell, real food and the dangers of fake food is a subject that interests me greatly. I’m a big fan of Michael Pollan’s books, and try to live his advice: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Another phrase of his I love is “edible food-like substances,” which describes most of what you’ll find in the center of the supermarket.  A good film documentary can be a powerful educational tool. When I was teaching persuasive and informative writing to my high school students, I’d show them films like Food Inc. and Fast Food Nation, along with TED talks on the topic of unhealthy diet. The discussions that followed were fascinating, and I’m glad to have given my students some food for thought. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Let me also insert a plug for one of my favorite blogs: Snack Girl! Part home cook, part investigative journalist, and an excellent food writer, she provides recipes for healthy alternatives to nasty, phony “treats.”

Hubs and I have been without a kitchen for three weeks now, but we’ve managed to prepare real food most of those days using a borrowed electric skillet (Thanks, Kim!), a slow-cooker, a microwave and our backyard grill. Last night I made a posole-ish stew using some leftover grilled pork tenderloin. Of course, I could’ve done much better if I’d had a stove, but it was still pretty tasty.

Into the slow cooker went:

  • Two cups of chicken broth
  • A can of diced tomatoes
  • A can of mild green chiles, chopped
  • A can of yellow hominy (Yes, canned food is processed, but not necessarily fake. I check the labels and choose products without added sugar, salt, and the fewest possible lab-made chemicals)
  • Diced cooked pork tenderloin
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Chili powder

When it was done, we topped each bowl with radishes, green onions, cilantro and a bit of cheese. Real food, very tasty–and another entry in The Leftover Project.

poso

Happy cooking!

 

The Leftover Project: Southwestern-ish Stuffed Peppers

My ongoing goal is to stop food waste by transforming leftover ingredients into new dishes. Of course, my dishes must be made of actual food—no food-like-eating-substances allowed. (I’m looking at you, canned biscuits!) Stuffed vegetables are a great way to use up bits of leftover grains or bread, vegetables, and protein. You can go in a Middle Eastern direction with your spices, or Italian, or even Asian. Yesterday I was feeling like some Mexican food, but I had a fridge full of leftovers that needed using up.

We don’t often eat beef steak, or any other kind of beef, for that matter, but last night, after a hard day of substitute teaching—middle school band—I needed a stiff drink and a sturdy dinner. Hubs bought three lovely filet mignon steaks; why do they always come in packages of three? In the end, we weren’t as hungry as we’d thought, so there was a leftover steak. Now, it just won’t do to waste such beautiful meat.

Here’s what I had that needed using up:

The ingredients

  • Two bell peppers, one red, one yellow
  • Half a cucumber
  • Half an avocado
  • Half a bunch of cilantro
  • The steak
  • A pot of rice
  • A zucchini going soft
  • A few sad-looking mushrooms
  • Half a big onion
  • Some strips of green bell pepper left over from Superbowl crudités
  • Half a lemon
  • One canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce—I’d divided them up into little containers and froze them, because when would you ever use a whole can, unless you’re making chili?
  • Half a head of romaine lettuce
  • Some mini carrots
  • A few green onions
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes

For the stuffed peppers (serves two):

I diced up the onion, green pepper strips, half the zucchini and mushrooms, and sautéed them in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Next, I threw in two cloves of minced garlic, and seasoned it all with ground cumin, dried oregano, salt and black pepper. Next I added a big handful of chopped cilantro and the steak, which I’d diced, plus about two cups of cooked rice. (Any grain would be good here: quinoa, barley, farro, brown rice—go wild!) I moistened that with a bit of my favorite sauce for stuffed veggies: V-8 juice. Really, it works very well to moisten the stuffing without drowning it in a thick tomato sauce.

Vegetables for filling the stuffed peppers

Vegetables for filling the stuffed peppers

While those ingredients were getting acquainted, I nuked the halved bell peppers in a covered dish for three minutes to soften them, then put them in an oiled (olive, of course) glass baking dish. I filled the peppers with the mixture—there’s always a bit of extra filling that slops into the pan, but so what?

I minced up the chipotle pepper, and stirred it and its adobo sauce into the rest of the V-8 juice, about a cup. I dumped this over the now-stuffed peppers and sprinkled them with some grated cheddar cheese. Of course, it would be cool to use a more authentic Mexican cheese if you have one—I didn’t. Oh, I found about two tablespoons of sliced green olives, the pimento-stuffed kind, so I sprinkled that on top of the filled peppers too. That provided a nice contrast to the mild filling; next time I’ll add more olives.

The cooked peppers.

The cooked peppers.

While the peppers were baking at 375 degrees F for about half an hour, I made a salad with a romaine, carrots, sliced green onions, some diced zucchini (from the non-soggy end), and the cherry tomatoes.

I used this salad dressing recipe, more or less, adding a pinch of cayenne pepper. This used up the cucumber and avocado. It’s really good—light and refreshing. You should try this!

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/164771/cucumber-avocado-salad-dressing/

And here you go! A veggie-rich dinner that salvaged lots of leftovers and transformed them into something new and tasty.

peppers on the plates

The Leftover Project: Greenie Fettuccine

In my quest to reduce food waste, I continue to look for ways to use up the odds and ends that lurk in the back of my fridge or pantry. We’ve been eating lighter since the holidays, and I’ve been making more vegetarian meals. Last night, as I pondered what to fix for dinner, I noticed that my veggie drawer was full of bits and pieces of green veggies. Here’s what I had:

The ingredients

  • a partial bag of baby spinach
  • a zucchini
  • some green onions
  • a partial head of broccoli
  • a partial jar of basil pesto

And, of course, I had a few staples on hand:

  • a box of fettuccine
  • a hunk of Parmesan cheese
  • fresh garlic
  • walnuts

Well, this reminded me of my childhood favorite, “green spaghetti.” Back then, the sauce came from a packet of dehydrated pesto mix, but it was so delicious—green and garlicky and cheesy. This dish was a great improvement, even if I didn’t make my own fresh pesto this time.

First, I toasted a handful of walnuts in the oven at 375 degrees for about ten minutes, until fragrant. Next, I chopped up the veggies rather small and sautéed them in my wok in a bit of olive oil. The broccoli went in first, since it takes the longest to cook, and then the diced zucchini and green onions, with a minced clove of garlic. The spinach went in last; I chopped it up a bit so as to avoid long strings of spinach stuck in our teeth. I seasoned all that with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper—does anyone use pre-ground pepper now that you can buy your pepper preloaded in those inexpensive grinders? There’s something so sharp, so pure about the fragrance of fresh veggies with just salt and pepper.

The veggies, cooked

I boiled up enough fettuccine for two and, when it was done, tossed it into the wok along with the jarred pesto, the walnuts, which I’d chopped up roughly, and a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Was it Anthony Bourdain who taught me this trick? Not in person, of course—wouldn’t that be fun? I mean that he mentioned in one of his books how adding a bit of the pasta’s starchy cooking water helps to bind all the ingredients into a sauce that clings to the pasta.

I stirred in some freshly-shredded Parmesan cheese. I love how my Microplane grater transforms a small hunk of cheese into a mountain of fluffy, cheesy snow. I should have photographed the results before dumping more cheese on top, but there you go.

Fettuccini with rosesfettuccine, close up

It was delicious, light, and very fresh. The veggies were still crisp-tender, and the toasted walnuts added protein and crunch. I look forward to trying this again with other green veggies: peas, chard, asparagus, fennel…

What’s your favorite quick pasta sauce?

The Leftover Project: Thai-ish Curry

I didn’t take a photo of this one because – well, it wasn’t pretty. But it tasted marvelous. Here’s what I needed to use up:

  • a leftover poached chicken breast
  • some grilled vegetables, including potato, red onion, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes
  • a few leaves of kale

Here’s how I transformed that into something quite different:

  1. I chopped half an onion and sauteed that in olive oil. I shredded up the kale (no ribs, of course) and threw that in. I cooked this over medium heat until the kale was softened, about five minutes.
  2. I added a tablespoon of green Thai curry paste. This stuff keeps forever in the fridge, and a little goes a long way. Once that was fragrant, I added a can of light coconut milk. Trader Joe’s makes a nice one. I let that simmer for another five minutes or so over low heat, and then
  3. I added the chicken, cut into bite-size pieces, and the grilled veggies, likewise chunked up.
  4. I let it simmer for another five minutes or so. Hmm – a bit bland. I added a bit of soy sauce and a bit of lime juice, and suddenly it tasted Thai! Well, Thai-ish. The flavor of the chicken infused nicely into the sauce, the kale was tender, and all the ingredients got along splendidly.
  5. I served it over brown basmati rice. Very nice! And it’s gluten- and dairy-free, if you care about that sort of thing.

The Leftover Project: Antipasti Misti and Pasta Salad

Look what you can make from those sad veggies hiding in your fridge!

Look what you can make from those sad veggies hiding in your fridge!

As part of my new, frugal, lifestyle, I’ve vowed to stop wasting food and avoid the shameful weekly fridge purge, where I dump out all the leftovers that lay forgotten in the back. So I’m always looking for creative ways to transform leftovers. Here’s this week’s idea.

Years ago I used to go to a wonderful, romantic, old-world Italian restaurant in Würzburg, Germany, called – get this – Ristorante Italia. My favorite part of any meal there was the antipasti misti, which I would often make a meal of. The waiter would wheel over a clear Lucite cart containing plates of grilled, marinated vegetables, thinly sliced prosciutto, salami, mortadella, cheeses, olives, marinated anchovies and mussels – oh my! I usually concentrated on the vegetable offerings; their grilled zucchini was a marvel, at once tender but with a bit of chewiness, and marinated in real balsamic vinegar and good olive oil. When I asked a young Italian colleague how to achieve this zucchini marvel, she shrugged and said, “Just put them in the oven.” Well then!

Since then, I’ve had success grilling veggie slices on the BBQ grill outdoors; this method is time consuming, but results in slices of eggplant, zucchini and onion that are tender yet not mushy and have lovely char marks. But who wants to do that in winter, in the Northwestern rain? So yesterday, my lovely sister-in-law and brother-in-law invited us over to watch the Oscars and eat pizza. A neighbor was bringing the salad, and the dessert was already taken care of, so I checked my not-so-well-stocked fridge for inspiration. Hey – an “Italian” feast calls for antipasti misti, which would give me the opportunity to use up some veggies that were languishing in my fridge.  Here’s what I had:

  • An eggplant that was starting to go soft
  • One and a half zucchini
  • A red onion
  • A red bell pepper and an orange one

And in the cupboard I found a jar of Trader Joe’s marvelous marinated artichoke hearts and a can of Spanish green olives stuffed with anchovy. (Don’t make that face – they’re very good and not fishy, just salty.)

So I quartered the peppers and roasted them under the broiler until they were good and charred. I popped them into a lidded bowl to steam while I roasted the thinly-sliced eggplant, then zucchini, then onion wedges, brushing each slice lightly with olive oil. I finished each tray of roasted veggie slices with a few moments under the broiler, which approximated that nice grilled char effect. Then I peeled the now-perfect peppers and sliced them up too.

I made a nice vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, some mixed dried herbs, lots of black pepper and a bit of salt, a pinch of brown sugar, and some olive oil. Whisking everything but the oil together first makes a nice emulsion and holds the olive oil in a creamy suspension. Then I used that lidded dish from the peppers to shake each batch of roasted veg. in a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette, just enough to lightly coat them, and then arranged them in a dish. I plopped the drained artichoke hearts in the middle and scattered the olives over all, et voilà! (Or however you say that in Italian) I served this with some sourdough bread, and it was mahvelous, dahling. It would’ve been even better if I’d had some fennel to roast, but my object was to use up the veg. I already had, not to go buy more.

Of course, there’s always too much good food at M. and M.E.’s house, so we came back home with a few cups of roasted veggies. Today I boiled up some pasta twists, and then I pan-fried two chicken breasts in olive oil, which resulted in some lovely drippings. I chopped up the chicken, dumped the meat and drippings into a bowl with the noodles, cut up the leftover roasted veg. into smaller bits and stirred those in, and added a few more leftover bits from the fridge – about a cup of garbanzo beans and some crumbled feta cheese. There was enough vinaigrette left on the veg. to moisten the salad, but if that hadn’t been the case, bottled vinaigrette would have done nicely – I like Paul Newman’s.

 

Pasta salad is a great way to use up leftover antipasti.

Pasta salad is a great way to use up leftover antipasti.

And so I created two yummy dishes out of the veggies that, if I’d ignored them a few days longer, I’d have had to throw out. Not bad for leftovers!

 

The Leftover Project: Easy Pumpkin Soup with Exotic Spices (Can be vegan)

images[2]You know how leftover holiday ingredients lurk in the back of your pantry? Well, today is Halloween, and I was craving pumpkin soup, but not badly enough to go the store and buy the fresh sugar pumpkin and heavy cream that most recipes call for. What I did have was a can of pumpkin puree, left over from last year’s holiday baking. All righty then! But what to use to replace the cream? How about a few potatoes for thickness, and some canned “lite” coconut milk. That’ll do nicely! Here’s what I did – no picture this time, because the finished soup is a muddy tan color, but oh-so-tasty. Want it more orange? Perhaps add more carrots.

You’ll need a stick blender for this one – I maintain that it’s too much trouble to ladle hot soup into the blender, but suit yourself. I love my stick blender for making velvety soups.

Into your large-ish soup pot, throw in one onion, a big stalk of celery, and a few peeled carrots, all roughly chopped. Sweat them in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, stirring from time to time, over medium heat. I like to put the lid on the pot between stirs to hasten the process. You want the onions to be nice and glassy – sautéing the veggies before you add the liquid results in a deeper flavor.

Next, I added about a liter and a half of chicken broth. I use the low-sodium stuff from a carton. If you wanted to make a vegan soup, you could easily substitute vegetable broth. I threw in a few medium potatoes, diced. Then I stirred in a bit more than half of a large can (29 ounce size) of pumpkin purée – NOT the presweetened pie filling, just the plain purée. I also added two cloves of garlic, minced. But what to season this with? Many recipes I looked at called for basically the same spices you’d use for pumpkin pie, and I did not want my soup to taste like pie! Lo and behold, I find at the back of my (overstuffed, disorganized) spice cupboard a tin of garam masala. A warm-and-fragrant-but-not-hot blend of Indian spices, it does contain cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, but does not smell like pie – it smells like an exotic spice market. And so I dumped in a few teaspoons of this stuff – what a wonderful smell!

I brought the pot to a boil and then lowered the heat, leaving it to simmer for 30 minutes or so. When the potato cubes and carrot bits were tender but not mushy, I pureed most of the soup with my stick blender – just stuck that sucker right into the pot and swirled it around until most of the soup was smooth. I like to leave a few chunks of potato and veg. – that makes the soup more interesting, I think.

But the soup still lacked something. Ah yes – in went half a can of “lite” coconut milk, well shaken, of course. A few more minutes of simmering, and wow! This is really tasty soup, a little different than the usual versions, very quick and easy, and a good way to use up leftover canned pumpkin. And it’s quite low in fat and calories!

But wait a minute – now I have about a cup of canned pumpkin and a cup of coconut milk. I’m thinking pumpkin pancakes, or maybe muffins. Do you have a suggestion?

The Leftover Project: Curried Chicken and Rice Soup

Autumn tree in Jefferson Park  When autumn leaves begin to fall and noses begin to run, it’s time for chicken soup! In the spirit of frugal fun and saving money for the things that matter most, I continue my efforts to eliminate food waste by using up leftovers in creative ways. Today is a glorious autumn day in Tacoma, alternately bright and rainy, with a stiff wind that sends the clouds scuttling across the sky as if being chased by the frost-breathing wolves of winter. Autumn days like these call for soup. Here’s what I had:

  • Homemade chicken stock made from the carcass of a roast chicken that I’d saved in the freezer, (See below if you don’t already know how to do this, but you probably do.)
  • some chicken meat left over from the aforementioned roast bird, including the meat I’d picked off the bones after making the stock,
  • half a bag of “baby” carrots that were past their prime,
  • a few stalks of celery, also fading,
  • half an onion,
  • half a zucchini,
  • half a tomato,
  • about ½ cup of whipping cream left over from a previous recipe, (poireaux à la crème – leeks in cream sauce)
  • some Uncle Ben’s rice – the seasoned kind in the orange box, white rice and wild rice mix, and
  • curry powder.
  1. I diced up onion, carrots and celery, and sweated them in just a bit of olive oil in a medium saucepan with the lid on, stirring from time to time, until they began to soften – about five minutes.
  2. I added about 1 tsp. of curry powder and stirred that for a moment, then threw in the diced tomato and zucchini.
  3. Next, I added about four cups of the homemade chicken stock and stirred it well to scrape up the curried goodness from the bottom of the pan. In went the shredded chicken, about a cup and a half, about the same amount of cooked rice, a few cooked garlic cloves that had been in the cavity of the roast chicken, and the cream. After simmering for ten minutes, it was done. Delicious! Not heavy, despite the cream, with just a hint of spice from the curry, and very flavorful thanks to the homemade stock – perfect for an autumn day.

And another batch of leftovers is transformed! Tah-daahh!

curried chicken soup

For those who’ve never made stock from the carcass of a roasted chicken, you really must try it. Homemade chicken stock is so much more flavorful than that prepared stuff in a carton, and you can control the level of salt too. Here’s how I did it:

  1. I chopped up the holy trinity of onion, carrot and celery, one to two cups of each. You want to keep the amounts balanced, but you don’t have to be precise. When making stock, it doesn’t matter if the veggies are old and faded, or even a bit desiccated, as long as they’re not moldy or slimy.
  2. Here’s the sinful part – I’d basted this chicken with butter, so the frozen carcass was surrounded by a layer of combined chicken fat and butter. Pure gold! I hacked away at that frozen greasy goodness with a knife until I had enough to sauté my veggies in. Wow! The smell was amazing from the first minutes. Later I added some frozen parsley stems (saved for soup), a few bay leaves, about 2 tsp. of dried marjoram, and about 1 tsp. of poultry seasoning – I have two jars that I need to use up. I also sliced in a few cloves of garlic, and ground in plenty of black pepper.
  3. Next comes the frozen chicken carcass, of course, and enough liquid to cover. In the fridge I had half a carton of store-bought chicken broth – pretty flavorless stuff – so I supplemented that with some concentrated chicken “stock” in a little plastic tub, and plenty of water. I didn’t add any salt because the chicken concentrate is salty. I just added enough to cover the chicken bones – about eight cups of liquid in all. (You could use just water, but using the chicken stock concentrate and/or broth gives the finished product a richer flavor without having to reduce it for hours.) I brought all this to a boil and then turned down the heat to low, just high enough to keep it simmering.
  4. When it’s finished, after simmering for a few hours, the veggies are just cooked down to a sludge, having released all their goodness into the stock. So I drained the stock through a colander into a fresh pot. After 30 minutes or so, I picked the chicken meat off the bones and set it aside. Why is the meat always still hot enough to burn my fingers, no matter how long I wait? I threw the rest of the stuff away – it had done its job and died for a noble cause.
  5. Of course, the finished stock was greasy from all that butter, plus fat rendered from the chicken skin, so I put it into the fridge overnight. The congealed layer of fat looked like swamp sludge – don’t want that stuff running through my arteries. But cooking the stock with the chicken fat really adds to the flavor, even if you remove most of the grease before using the stock, which I did, of course. Just skim it off with a spoon and throw it away.

Happy soup-making this autumn! Do you have a favorite twist on chicken soup? If so, please share!