Aaahhh…Autumn is finally here. I love when the cooler weather arrives. I could eat soup every night. Creamy soups are among my favorite. Soups are easy enough to make to serve a cup as a course before dinner or hearty enough to serve a bowl as the main dish. Add some crusty bread or your favorite crackers with cheese and you’ve got comfort food for the cold days that will be arriving soon.
I’m very frugal and don’t like to waste food when I don’t have to. One of my favorite cheats, when I don’t feel like cooking, is to buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. We’ll have it for dinner with potato or macaroni salad and some sliced tomatoes or cucumbers; then I can usually carve off enough chicken to make chicken salad for lunch, too. That’s two super easy meals for busy days.
Next, not wanting to waste perfectly good bones, I’ll make a pot of chicken stock. There will be enough stock for a large batch of one kind of soup or two smaller batches. I prefer to make two kinds to have a variety throughout the week.
A base for a good soup starts with mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwa). Mirepoix is basically a combination of aromatics, such as onions, celery, and carrots. It can be made by sautéing the vegetables in butter or olive oil or can be added raw to the other ingredients for your stock.
Frugal tip: Instead of composting or throwing away the ends of celery, onions, leeks, carrots, peppers or virtually any of your vegetables, try storing them in a bag in the freezer. Then you can just add them to your other ingredients when making stock.
Today I’m making two soups from one bird. First will be a basic chicken noodle soup. This soup turns out differently each time I make it due to the various vegetables and seasonings used in the stock. This recipe is just here as a guide. You can add whatever kind of vegetables you have and use your favorite seasonings or pasta shapes.
Flavor tip: Even after simmering your stock for hours, sometimes it may not be as flavorful as you would like. If your stock doesn’t seem to have much flavor, add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon. Add a little at a time until you get the flavor you want.
The second soup is a Sausage and Potato Soup. I originally wanted to make a creamy potato and leek soup. Traditionally, that type of soup is usually pureed. But, I was in the mood for a heartier soup with lots of chunks. Of course, I didn’t have to puree the soup, there are no rules that say it has to be pureed. After making the potato and leek soup, I thought it looked and tasted a little boring, so I decided to add some sausage, chicken and kale. Now we’re talking. This soup has all the chunks and pizzazz I was looking for.
Chicken Noodle Soup
A basic starter recipe for beginners. This easy soup recipe can be modified to make a variety of other soups.
- 1 chicken carcass
- 1 cups onion diced
- 1/2 cup celery diced
- 1/2 cup carrots diced
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup Stelline pasta or other small shaped pasta
- 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
- water to cover all ingredients in pot
In a 5 quart pot, place the chicken carcass, onion, celery, carrots, and seasonings (see recipe note #1). Fill the pot about 2 inches from the top with water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Periodically, check to make sure your liquid isn't boiling away.
Strain the stock and set aside the chicken carcass to cool. (See Note # 2)
Reserve 6 cups of stock for the Creamy Potato and Sausage Soup.
Clean the chicken from the bones, chop to bite-sized pieces (reserve 1 cup for the Creamy Potato and Sausage Soup) and set aside. Discard the bones.
Bring the remaining stock to a boil, add the pasta and frozen vegetables. Return to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until pasta and vegetables are tender. Add the chicken.
Note #1 – Frugal tip: Instead of composting or throwing away the ends of celery, onions, leeks, carrots, peppers or virtually any of your vegetables, try storing them in a bag in the freezer. Then you can just add them to your other ingredients when making stock and save your fresh ingredients to add to the soup.
Note #2 – Flavor tip: Even after simmering your stock for hours, sometimes it may not be as flavorful as you would like. If your stock doesn’t seem to have much flavor, add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon. Add a little at a time until you get the flavor you want.
Creamy Potato and Sausage Soup
This hearty soup is full of potatoes, leek, sausage, chicken and kale.
- 6 cups stock reserved from Chicken Noodle Recipe
- 3 cups milk
- 5 medium potatoes peeled and diced
- 2 cups leek cleaned and sliced
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 5 sausage links (I used mild, but any variety will work)
- 12 tbsp butter divided
- 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups kale (optional) remove stems from leaves
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup chicken reserved from Chicken Noodle Recipe
Peel and dice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
Set potatoes aside.
Dice the onion and set aside with the potatoes.
Prepare the sausage for removal of the casings by slicing each link lengthwise.
Pull the casing off of the sausage. Set the sausage aside.
If using kale, remove the tough stems and just use the leaves then chop into smaller pieces. (You can use the stems, but they would need to cook much longer to be edible.)
Clean the leek. Remove and discard the long leaves and root (or freeze for future stock). Slice the remaining leek into long, thin strips or rings. Rinse thoroughly to remove any residual dirt. Dry on a clean towel or paper towels and pat dry. Set aside.
Prepare a skillet over medium high heat to melt 4 tbsp butter with 2 tbsp olive oil.
Add the potatoes to the skillet then stir until thoroughly coated.
Add the onions, salt and pepper to the potatoes Stir and reduce heat to medium low.
Stir the potatoes occasionally until they are browned and tender.
In another skillet, over medium heat, add 2 tbsp of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the leek and garlic then saute until the leek is tender. (5-10 minutes) Then set aside.
Over medium high heat, crumble the sausage into bite-sized pieces.
Stirring frequently, cook the sausage until thoroughly cooked through then drain and set aside.
If using kale, reserve a couple teaspoons of the sausage fat and olive oil to saute the kale. This adds a little extra flavor to the kale. Saute kale until tender.
In a 5 quart pot, make a roux by melting 4 tbsp butter and constantly whisking in a little flour at a time until you've added all of the 1/2 cup. Roux will be very thick.
Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Gradually add the stock. Continue to whisk constantly.
Finally, add the cooked potatoes, sausage, leek, kale, and chicken. Simmer until all ingredients are warm and broth has thickened.
Broth vs. Stock
Broth and stock can be used in place of each other in most recipes. Broth doesn’t need to cook as long as stock. Broth is a liquid made from meat and/or vegetables simmered for a short period of time.
Stock, however, is made using bones. In order to extract the gelatin from the bones, it will need to simmer for a longer period of time. You should simmer for at least three hours, but the longer the better.
As mentioned above, mirepoix will give your stock or broth a boost of flavor. But, adding seasonings will help as well. Try experimenting with fennel, garlic, and parsley, too.
What is your favorite soup? Tell me in the comments below.