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There's nothing more delicious and comforting than fresh hot chicken soup. It's much easier to make chicken soup than most people realize. If you follow this simple recipe you will always be able to whip up a hot meal in a few minutes, and use up your leftovers in the process.

The first ingredient is the most important: the chicken itself. And herein lies one of the secrets of truly quick soup: buy a pre-roasted chicken. Cut off some of the breast meat for sandwiches, enjoy a chicken wing or thigh. It really doesn't matter - even if you eat most of the meat, what's left of the chicken still makes a good soup base.

Here's what you are going to need:

The primary ingredients

One roast chicken (either a whole one or one that you've mostly eaten)
One large onion (red, white, or yellow)
2 cups of white wine
Water
3 cloves of garlic
a bayleaf
Salt and pepper to taste

The secondary ingredients

Any vegetables you have around, which might include:

Carrots
Zucchini
Mushrooms
Summer Squash
Asparagus
Eggplant
Tomatoes
Potatoes
Or any other veggies

Additional herbs, which might include:

Basil
Thyme
Oregano
Herbs du Provence

Here's how to make the soup:

Take a large pot and place the chicken carcass inside. Remember, the more meat left on the chicken, the more meat in the soup. Cut the onion into medium chunks and put in the pot with the chicken. Cut up and add any other vegetables that you are going to use; I recommend that you pick at least 3 veggies (including the onion) in order to get a rich broth. Add the 2 cups of white wine, then fill the pot with water so that the chicken and vegetables are covered. You can fill the pot up almost to the brim, but leave about a half an inch so the soup doesn't boil over. Mince your garlic and add it, then add about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Add the bayleaf and the other herbs, if any, that you've chosen to include. Bring the heat up under the pot and allow the soup to come to a boil, briefly, before turning it down to simmer. Cover the pot, walk away, and come back in an hour. Your soup will be ready to eat. The meat will have mostly already fallen off the bones; use a fork to loosen the rest, then discard the bones before serving. Also, don't forget to remove the bayleaf.

You'll find that you can customize the soup to alter the flavor. For instance, soup that is made with asparagus and mushrooms as the vegetable choices will yield a light and delicate broth. For a more 'countrified' recipe, try choosing tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots. By mixing and matching, you'll find this recipe is the basis for many personal variations. Remember, the most basic broth can be made with just the chicken carcass, water, and salt and pepper. So, next time your time is short and you or your family are yearning for a hot meal, pick up a roast chicken, a loaf of bread, and a few veggies, and treat them to a homemade meal of fresh soup and sandwiches.