If you’re trying to live frugally, try buying a whole chicken. A whole chicken has not only meat but the makings of wonderful stock, and the sum of its parts and the stock are worth much, much more than you’ll pay for the whole bird. This is one of the ways that we afford to buy local, organic chickens.
Making Your Own Chicken Stock
To make your own stock, you can roast the chicken whole or do as I did recently and cut it into pieces and parts for different meals. Then boil the carcass with aromatics like onions, garlic, celery, and herbs for an incredible stock to form the basis of soup and gravy–all for much, much less than stock-in-a-box and much tastier! The meat left on the carcass after you break down the chicken into breast, wings, and leg quarters will make superb soup meat. Take a few minutes really to pick the bones clean after you boil the carcass. Your pets will also love getting a piece of gristle to gnaw on! Just be sure not to give them poultry bones, which can splinter and choke them.
On a recent night we had stacked bean enchiladas on corn tortillas, but the star of the dinner was chicken tortilla soup, in essence a soup made of chicken leftovers and a handful of other ingredients.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
- half a chopped onion
- 1/2 – 1 sweet pepper, chopped
- optional: chile peppers, seeded and chopped (we used 5 jalapeno peppers, but then again we like heat)
- oregano, dried or fresh finely chopped
- chicken picked from a boiled or roasted carcass (or 1/2-3/4 cup shredded chicken from another source)
- about a quart of chicken stock
- cup of fresh chopped tomatoes OR can of diced tomatoes, drained (I used canned and drank the juice.)
- handful of corn (frozen if you don’t have fresh)
- crushed tortilla chips (as in the bits left in the bottom of the bag)
Saute the onion. Add the peppers and let cook a few minutes. Add the oregano, chicken, and chicken stock. Simmer to let flavors combine. Add the chopped tomato or drained tomato and corn. Stir to combine. Heat through and serve with garnishes.
- tortillas, slivered and toasted (spray with a little oil before toasting), or tortilla chips, crushed
- grated cheese
- sour cream or plain yogurt.