Legs annoy me. I’m a breast fan. There are more ways I can use breasts than I can use legs. Oh, and we’re talking about chicken, btw. My P.S. (Poultry Supplier/ hubby) is a leg man, and supports this by bringing them home often. We have a freezer full of legs (aren’t you glad I noted that the topic was chicken? Leftover chicken legs!)
I’m ok with eating them after he grills them up nicely. My problem comes when I don’t know what to do with leftovers. There are always three leftover leg sections sitting in Tupperware giving me the middle toe. Thighs and drumsticks take so much more work to debone and save the meat than breasts. I will put off stripping the bones for several days until we’re in danger of approaching hazardous waste level. It’s just so messy!
The other day I was going to make it easy. The meat is always easier to remove when it’s warm, so I decided to rewarm it. I threw the 3 leg sections into a soup pot and barely covered them with water. I let them come to a boil then kept the heat at medium for an hour. The legs swam happily, scenting the air with their chicken-ness and flavoring the water with brothy goodness. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take pictures that day but it’s pretty simple.
I let the pot cool for about 30 minutes before I poured the bones and all through a metal strainer. I set aside the broth to cool before refrigeration. I removed the meat that was falling off the bones and set that in a separate container to cool as well. I’d make my grilled chicken soup the next day.
The soup actually only took about 30 minutes the next day. I diced up an onion and 3 ribs of celery and put them into a soup pot with a little olive oil to sauté. I sliced up 3 long carrots and added them to the pot as well. I sautéed the veggies over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
I added the broth I’d made to the pot. It was about 4 cups, along with 4 more cups of chicken broth from cubes I use that are vegan. I let the pot bubble at medium high for about 15 minutes, until the carrots were softened.
I added the chopped chicken and let the pot come to a boil again. I wanted noodle soup, and my favorite way to get noodles is to use angel hair pasta broken into fifths. I don’t want them super long; I want them to be easily spooned.
With the pot bubbling away, I added the pasta and stirred well. After 3 or 4 minutes I added 3 cups of fresh spinach I’d roughly chopped.
Checking for seasoning, there was enough salt due to the marinade on the grilled chicken and the broth cubes. I added some black pepper, some sage and a few shakes of turmeric for color. Perfect!
My P.S. made us sandwiches with the leftover pork in the fridge and I served the soup. Properly photographed, we ate dinner on trays in front of the tv. We loved the soup, the flavors all melded so well. The broth was delicious- sometimes it’s difficult to get a strong chicken broth unless you have a fairly large chicken. The three leg sections did very well!
The spinach usually doesn’t add a great deal of flavor, but I like to add it for the vitamins and frankly, for the color contrast. The turmeric is to make the broth a little more yellow, the spinach is a nice green addition. With plenty of carrots, it’s a colorful soup.
Rich flavors, rich colors, it was a success! I finally found an easy way to use up those random legs lying around the house. I jest. They’re stuffed in the fridge.
Grilled Chicken Noodle Soup
3 grilled chicken leg sections (drumstick and thigh)
2 quarts of water, or to cover legs in a soup pot
1 large onion; diced
3 ribs celery; sliced thinly
3 large carrots; sliced (mine were thin; if thick, cut in half before slicing)
8 cups chicken broth (add store bought broth if not enough from soup pot the previous day)
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sage
½ teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
½ box angel hair pasta; broken into fifths a few at a time
2-3 cups fresh spinach; roughly chopped
Put leg sections whole into a soup pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium heat and let bubble for an hour. Turn off heat and cool for 30 minutes.
Strain contents of pot through a fine mesh strainer. Set broth aside to cool, then cover and refrigerate. Remove meat from bones and refrigerate in a covered container overnight.
To make the soup: In a soup pot sauté the onions and celery with a good drizzle of olive oil. Add carrots and continue to cook, about 10 minutes.
Add broth to total 8 cups and bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce to medium and let cook for 10-15 minutes, until carrots are fairly softened.
Chop chicken somewhat, leaving mostly large chunks. Add to soup and bring to boil again. Add broken pasta and cook for 3 or 4 minutes.
Add chopped spinach and cook for 5 more minutes, until pasta is no longer al dente. Taste for seasonings, adding more if desired.