If you ever find yourself throwing away the bones, skin and remains of a roast chicken, roast chicken thighs or wings, stop! Approximately one hour separates you from that moment and a delicious chicken broth that will feel like a warm hug.
Throw those bones, skin and chicken debris in a pan with a few vegetables and olive oil, add water and small pasta, let the heat do its magic and you will be suitably rewarded. It really is that easy.
I’ve always felt a bit inadequate in the top-to-tail world of cooks that are creative enough to conjure the most delicious dishes from the strangest and unlikely animal parts. I know when compared to them this recipe is lame. I only used some of the most obvious and essentially made a chicken broth, really nothing special that millions of cooks all over the world do on a weekly basis, whether with chicken, beef or fish. But I felt proud. Not only because I ‘saved’ animal parts from going to waste but also because even though I had never tried this before, it turned out really yummy.
This was inspired by something very familiar to me called ‘canja de galinha’, which is a traditional Portuguese chicken soup that you are supposed to eat when you have a cold or the flu. Or just because you like it, which I very much do. It’s light, healthy but still flavoursome and significantly different from other soups. To make ‘canja’, raw chicken is cooked from scratch usually in a pressure cooker where it boils for a long time to make sure it is cooked throughout. This one is essentially a stock but the end result is similar, if only with a slightly stronger flavour. This is not really surprising as the roasted chicken will have been cooked with herbs, spices and other condiments and all of those will eventually dissolve in the broth too. Yum.
On this occasion, I didn’t add any herbs because I had cooked my chicken with lots of thyme but I can imagine that parsley, lemon thyme and even a little mint will be delicious here.
- Heat a large pan on medium heat and melt the butter with the olive oil. Roughly chop the onions, leek and garlic and add to the pan. Let them soften for 5 minutes. Chop the carrots and celery into small cubes and add to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes and add the roast chicken remains.
- Let this cook for 10 minutes until the whole thing starts to stick to the pan by which time you should add 1 litre of the boiling water to deglaze all those caramelised flavours. Let it simmer for 45 minutes, occasionally removing the scum that forms on the surface with a large flat spoon.
- Using a large colander, sieve out all the solid debris and return the liquid to the pan. Add the rest of the water and season to taste (please note you may not need to add any salt). Bring back to the boil.
- From the sieved broth solids, pick a handful of carrot cubes (they will be soft and taste of heaven) and any chicken meat you are able to rescue from the bones or carcass. Save them to add to the broth when it is ready for a little interest and sweetness from the carrot.
- Add the orzo and let it cook for the time it says in the packet. You may need to add a little more water.
- Just before it is due to be ready, add the carrot cubes and chicken bits you picked out before so they have a chance to warm up to the temperature of the rest of the broth.