Making “second meals” has fast become one of my favorite challenges. It is fun to see if I can figure out a way to repurpose leftovers instead of just reheating them. Not that there’s anything wrong with simply reheating. I just feel like reheating is a cop out sometimes… ? Where does that come from? I don’t know. I suppose I just like to challenge myself 😉 You know why else? Because reheated meat never tastes as good the second time around. So I try to find a new way to use it instead.
So! Here is the first featured ‘second meal’. Remember the chicken I made in the crock pot a few nights ago? I saved the leftovers in Tupperware and it has been stored in the fridge since then. When I opened it, it actually smelled like canned chicken. BLECH!! (although this did give me an idea for an alternative second meal… stay tuned!) Today I broke out my big soup pot and some OHIs – chicken broth, a little white wine, some frozen veggies, and some seasonings – to freshen up that first meal.
Generally we eat at 5pm. Which means I start dinner at 4. But when I’m making homemade soup I like to give it a little more time to marinate. (I say this like I make homemade soup a lot. I don’t. I just know that in GENERAL, if you want a good blend of flavors and tender meat, longer is usually better. Right?!) So I started this soup around 3:30.
I started by basically dumping the Tupperware upside down into my soup pot, then pouring the chicken broth around it. I used a ladle to spread it and mix it together. (I could’ve used a wooden spoon, sure, but I knew I’d serve it with the ladle, and I’m all for dirtying as little as possible to decrease my dishes. yeah!) Next I added some dry seasonings: thyme, parsley, a little salt, a little bay leaf and some garlic powder. I stirred it around and then added a little parmesan cheese (just Kraft for now). I also added some chopped onion leftover from last night’s dinner (post coming soon!). Next time maybe I’ll prep better and be sure to have fresh parsley on hand to add a fresher taste.
This was still looking too thick for a soup, especially if I planned to add egg noodles later. So I looked around to see what OHI I had… Chardonnay! This was even a freebie, as my mom and our family friend Traci had left it the other night after babysitting the kids (Wait, stop! I know what you might be thinking: my babysitters were drinking?! Don’t worry. The kids were asleep and I have full confidence they were not binge drinking. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually drink around my kids. One beer or glass of wine does not impair my ability to properly care for my kids. Parents, whos with me?!). I probably ended up adding a cup? A cup and a half? I knew it would mostly reduce down, but it would do the job. Adding more depth of flavor and decreasing that super creaminess. I needed some acidity and I didn’t have much other option on hand. It’s now been simmering for 45 minutes or so. It tasted awesome when I tested it. All the chicken was slowly breaking up into smaller pieces.
I debated whether or not to add more pasta and make it chicken NOODLE soup. It already had a little leftover noodles from the first meal and I did have little chicken broth left in case the noodles absorbed too much liquid. At 4:45 I decided to just go ahead and do it. I added what was left of a box of macaroni (about 1 cup – remember how I said I always have little bits left?!) About 5 minutes before serving I added the veggies – frozen peas and carrots.
So, as a side note, I used to really dislike soup. Maybe I never had one I really liked? Maybe I felt like I was getting gypped out of a ‘real meal’. (Kids’ thought processes are WEIRD sometimes. At least I think mine were.) I guess I just felt like the only time I ate soup growing up was when I was sick. (Chicken and stars!! Who’s with me?) Not that my mom didn’t make it. I just didn’t LIKE it. Ha. So I guess the truth is, I wss stubborn and never ate the stuff. Tastes change as you get older, and I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of a good soup. Why?
Soup is generally a combination of leftover ingredients – a way to use stuff up before it goes bad. Stock is made from a combination of meat and/or the bones of that animal. YES! This goes along with my OHI/’use what you have’ motto. “Waste not, want not” is pretty smart. They knew what they were talking about back then. Soup is great for the frugal-minded. Plus, there definitely is something about a hot soup that warms you up from the inside out on a cold day. Or makes you feel better when you’ve got a cold. And. While I’ve learned to appreciate the history of soup, I’ve also learned that you can combine things you’d never think compatible when serving in a soup. Have you ever had Carrot coconut ginger soup?? IT. IS. AWESOME. And not terribly unhealthy either, as you use coconut water or milk instead of heavy cream. Working at a restaurant I’ve even realized I like COLD soup! Gazpacho! Refreshing and healthy.
So. Now I’m going to go serve and enjoy my second meal… Chicken noodle soup!
Post-dinner note: this soup is like VELVET. It must have been the wine. All 3 kids ate their bowls empty. Oh yes I will definitely be doing this again!