I roasted a chicken with the express intent of having a carcass to make bone broth later in the week. When the kids decided not to come for dinner, I was left with more than the usual amount of leftovers. After the first meal, I made tacos with the breast meat. With the bits that remained I made this soup.
Note: Since my original dish was chili based, all of these leftover dishes were married to a Cal-Mex flavor.
When I cut up a whole chicken I am left with scraps—backbones, wing tips, necks, etc. I freeze these. When I have enough or—as in this case—a whole carcass I make chicken bone broth.
After Dinner Note: This soup turned out very well. It was even better the second day.
Karl’s Chicken Bone Broth Chili Bean Soup
1 chicken carcass, with most of the remaining meat removed
Any leftover chicken scraps (optional)
Any leftover pan drippings from roasting the chicken (optional)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil or chicken fat
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
½ green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. Karl’s Four Chile Chili Powder
2 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 can (29 oz.) pinto beans
¼ cup tortilla chips, ground to a coarse meal
½ tsp. black pepper, cracked
½ cup corn chips, whole
1. Cut away any large pieces of meat and reserve them for later.
Tip: Break the carcass into pieces.
Note: Break the larger pieces of chicken into small bite sizes.
2. Brown the bones and scraps.
Tip: Many people would brown these in the pot, but I find it easier, safer, and neater to put them on a tray and broil them—flipping the pieces until well browned on all sides. Fond is fond whether it is in the bottom of the pot or on the skin and bones.
Note: I recovered some of the fat that floated to the top of my pan drippings from the original roast chicken to grease my pot. If you do not have that you may use the grease produced by broiling the chicken parts. Or—if you are limiting your animal fat intake—you may use a healthy vegetable oil.
3. Put the bones, scraps, and any pan drippings into a soup pot.
4. Add water to cover, 7-8 cups, bring the pot to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1-4 hours.
Tip: How much water you add and how long you simmer the bones for depends entirely on how much broth and how much flavor you want when you are done. You will lose about one cup of liquid per hour of simmering, but what remains will be more concentrated flavor. You may also start with canned broth—instead of water—if you want a really rich broth.
Note: Many stock recipes I have seen include vegetables—carrots, celery, garlic, etc.—which are then discarded. Since I will be adding these flavors later, I see no reason for either this waste or that my broth should taste of anything but chicken.
5. Strain and de-fat the broth.
Tip: Remove any remaining bits of meat and put them with the chicken pieces.
Note: Again, many cooks would discard this meat as “spent” and not worth the effort to remove—I cannot.
6. Put the grease in your soup pot and sauté the onion with the salt, over medium high heat, until starting to pick up some color.
7. Add the celery and peppers and continue sautéing until soft, another 4-5 minutes.
8. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and sauté the garlic in the center.
Tip: You may need to add some more oil to help cook the garlic.
9. After 30 seconds, add the spices to the garlic and continue cooking for another minute, until very fragrant.
10. Add the tomatoes to the garlic and spices, sauté for one minute more.
Tip: Use the released tomato juices to deglaze the pot.
11. Stir the chicken broth and pinto beans into the pot.
Note: Decision point: Do you put all, some, or none of the bean can liquor into the pot? The liquid in a can of beans is the water in which the beans were cooked. As a result, it has a lot of bean flavor and starch and will act as a thickener. When a can of beans has sat for a time, much of this starch will have settled to the bottom of the can—leaving a thin broth at the top of the can. Looking at the liquid level in your pot, would adding all of the bean broth thin the soup out too much? If you feel the answer is “Yes,” consider pouring off half—or if necessary all—of the can liquor before adding the beans.
12. Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat.
13. Simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes to meld the flavors.
14. Check the seasoning, add salt, pepper, or more chili powder to taste.
15. Stir in the ground corn chips and reserved chicken pieces into the pot.
Tip: A hearty soup like this needs more that a thin broth. There are several ways to thicken this soup. You could smash some of the beans against the side of the pot to release their starch. You could add some cornstarch mixed with water. I decided that I wanted to complete the Cal-Mex theme by introducing some corn. Since corn chips are all ready cooked they will thicken a soup quickly without any risk of raw corn flour taste.
16. Continue simmering the soup, until it has thicken to your taste.
17. Serve the soup, with corn chips on the side for your dinners to crumble into this soup as they desire.
Note: If you wish, you may also provide: soup cream, crumbled Mexican cheese, hot sauces, chopped fresh onions, and/or fresh cilantro on the side.