By Tim Quiney, Food Deputy Editor
The Croft Magazine // Learn how to make the perfect chicken noodle soup with Tim's tasty tips.
Autumn is cold and wet and therefore it calls for soup. Canned soups are cheap but making your own will taste better and can be better value too.
One of my favourite soups to make is chicken noodle, but often the most expensive part of student food shopping can be meat. Knowing which cuts to buy can counter this and by making it at home, more than one dish can be created along the way. For me, buying pre-cut chicken breasts at the supermarket is not the best value for money. It is nice to have it all done for you, but being uneven in thickness means that the chicken potentially can be overdone on the outside before the inside is even fully cooked.
Buying a whole chicken and learning how to break it down into cuts you want to cook with is definitely worth it. Whole chickens can be broken down into eights cuts, plus the backbone for making soups! Online videos showing you how to do so are great – I like Gordon Ramsay’s ‘How to Part a Chicken’.
When breaking down a whole chicken into the eight cuts, I like to cut the two breasts in half again so that they are thinner and will cook faster and more evenly. These four cutlets are great for making thin strips out of which you could use for a stir fry or pieces to add to a salad. The two thighs are, in my opinion, the best cut as they are more flavourful and forgiving. You could cook them for any weeknight dish, perhaps roasted or fried on their own or cut into pastas. The two drumsticks and wings are so easy to chuck in the oven on one tray with any hardy vegetables (a lot of which are in season now) with a dressing of your choice, for an easy under 30-minute traybake.
And finally, the backbone – do not throw this away! Simmer this in a big pot of water with any vegetables that you have lying around, like roughly chopped carrots, onion, garlic and celery (plus maybe some bay leaves and herb stems if you have any starting to wilt). Spoon off any grey foam from the top as you bring your mixture to a simmer for a couple of hours and then strain it, which should leave you with homemade stock which is great for your homemade soup!
I like to add the cooked meat from the breasts and thighs to the strained stock and add pre-boiled noodles and any fresh cut vegetables to make the best homemade chicken noodle soup! This makes enough stock to last the whole week and allows you to make a variety of dishes with the different cuts too. Not only is it budget friendly (in Sainsbury’s a whole chicken costs £2.05 per kg versus chicken breast fillets which are priced at £4.84 per kg) but you made it yourself!
Featured Image: Epigram / Tim Quiney
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