Yesterday I found myself alone in my house with a tupperware of leftover chicken. The pretty pieces of sliced breast meat that just beg for a sandwich or salad had already been picked out so it was mostly the bits no one wants – wings, backs, you get the idea, but I refuse to let it go to waste. It’s perfectly good chicken! So, while my children were elsewhere in the neighborhood – honestly, the perks of your children having their best friends live 4 houses away are endless (playdates at your fingertips and no driving!) – I went to work on dinner. I knew what I wanted to do – soup. Rich, veggie-heavy chicken soup. This recipe evolves constantly, which is one of the things I love about it. If I don’t have onions, I skip them and add chopped fresh ginger instead. If I feel like doubling down on the mushrooms or substituting shrimp for the chicken, I do. And so should you. This particular version is a good place to start your experimenting. It’s fast, healthy, full of savory goodness, and it transforms those less attractive bits of last night’s chicken into something gorgeous. It’s a leftover miracle!
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium brown onion, thinly sliced into half moons
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin disks
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (any kind you like)
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
32 ounces chicken stock
Soy sauce, to taste (start with 2-3 teaspoons)*
Squeeze of lemon
3 handfuls fresh spinach
12 ounces fresh rice noodles
Avocado garnish and Sriracha optional
Add oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper to a large stock pot. Saute over medium heat until onions are brown and soft, approximately 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Add carrots and mushrooms and saute another 8-10 minutes. Add chicken and cook 2-3 minutes. Add stock to the pot and simmer on medium-low heat at least 15 minutes.
At this point we’re going to start seasoning the soup so it’s a good time to taste it. Begin adding your soy sauce, 2-3 teaspoons to start, and a good squeeze of fresh lemon. Taste the soup again and adjust soy sauce, salt, pepper, and lemon to your liking.
When you are about 15 minutes from wanting to eat, add the spinach to the pot. It will look like a lot, but spinach cooks down a ton. Stir to combine, then let the soup simmer on medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the spinach is getting down into the broth.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to boil and cook your rice noodles (or regular noodles, whatever you want is totally fine. Regular ramen-style noodles would be good here) according to the package directions.
To serve: Place cooked noodles into a soup bowl and ladle hot soup over. Garnish with sliced avocado and Sriracha if desired.
Serves 4 generously with leftovers for lunch!
As an aside – not all rice noodles keep very well once cooked. The ones I use get very weird. I would suggest cooking only the amount of noodles you are going to eat and then cooking new noodles to go in your leftovers. Or just eat it without the noodles the next day, which is what I do. Anyway…
*Regarding soy sauce – I use Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce. That, with the use of rice noodles and gluten free chicken stock (Costco sells Organic Chicken Stock that is gluten free and tasty – of course, you could make your own stock, but that’s a whole other thing), makes this soup gluten free. Clearly, you don’t have to do it that way if you don’t want to, but I thought I’d let you know. Totally your call!