You've just spent an entire day trying to get your particle system to look like flames rising up out of the client's logo. You haven't taken a break since before lunch, you hit the render button and now your program is saying it's going to take over an hour to RAM Preview... then your stomach growls like some kind of underfed Liger! (Half lion/half tiger – everyone's favourite animal, right?) So what do you do? Well, you've got plenty of time to make my favourite chicken soup.
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s really two meals in one! Or more accurately: the base of this hearty soup comes from the bones of another great meal (cue heavenly 8bit music). It's best to start with the leftovers of a roast chicken meal from the night before. If you don't have the time or energy to cook your own roast chicken (and let's face it - who does after a long day of pushing pixels?), this works equally well with a rotisserie special from your local grocery store. After you've dined on the roast bird, round up all the leftover meat, juices, skin and bones that didn’t get devoured – DO NOT chuck 'em! You’re going to use them with some veggies to make a savoury stock. All the goodness in those bones and vegetables will fortify into a wonderfully aromatic base for your soup, chock-full of vitamins and nutrients. Then it's just a few simple steps to turn your homemade stock into a delicious soup that will eat like a meal, and you'll be back in front of your computer in time to see that logo catch fire... this time with a full belly!
Step 1: Aromatic Homemade Chicken Stock
Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 4+ hrs
1 Roast or BBQ Chicken Carcass, bones, juices, skin, etc. (remove choice meat pieces and set aside for Step 2)
1 Large Cooking Onion quartered - wash but leave the skins on
1 or 2 Large Carrots, scrubbed but not peeled – break into 2 or 3 pieces
2 or 3 Celery stalks – crack them in half
3 or 4 large cloves of garlic - smash them with the skins still on
+ Any other spare vegetables pieces you may have around (like Cauliflower/Broccoli stalks and leaves)
+ A small handful of peppercorns – I prefer to crack these in half, or use a grinder
+ a couple sprigs of fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons of dried parsley - either works fine)
+ a couple sprigs of fresh or dried thyme or rosemary (if available, but not necessary)
- 1 bay leaf (I personally dislike the bitterness of bay leaves, but if you like it, throw it in there too!)
1) Place all ingredients in a large stock pot
2) Cover with cold water to about 2 cm above the ingredients (about 6 litres should do)
3) Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 4+ hrs
4) Using a sieve, strain the liquids into a pot or bowl
5) Let the stock cool and store in a bowl (or mason jars) in the fridge until you're ready to make the soup
I like to use a potato masher to press even more liquid and goodness out of the solids when sieving.
After refrigeration, remove any excess fat that has collected at the top of the bowl or jars of stock. This can be done with a spoon, or more easily by dabbing carefully with paper towel.
A well made stock will turn gelatinous when cooled in the refrigerator and will last for up to a week. Or If not needed immediately it can be frozen and should stay good for at least 3 months.
Step 2: Make The Soup – Fast!
Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: ~30 mins
Selection of dark and white cooked leftover chicken meat, cut into bite size pieces
(half a breast and a whole thigh should be enough – but use however much you like)
½ a Large White or Spanish Onion diced into “dime-sized” pieces
1 Large Carrot peeled, halved and sliced into moons or disks (depending on the carrot's thickness)
2 Celery stalks, sliced a little thicker than the carrots.
1 or 2 Cloves of garlic finely diced
1 Large potato, peeled and cubed a little bigger than the celery
+ Any other spare vegetables you like in a soup (peas maybe? Corn?)
+ Vegetable oil (Olive, Canola, or otherwise)
+ Worcestershire sauce, and Montreal Steak Spice to taste
+ Salt and Pepper dried parsley to taste
3 Green Onions (or 1 Shallot) finely chopped
1) In a large skillet or frying pan, add a small amount of oil and start with onions, garlic and celery
2) After a couple of minutes add the carrots and other vegetables, Worcestershire sauce + Steak Spice
3) While those fry up, add your stock from step 1 to a large pot, and place on medium heat
4) Once all the vegetables start to sweat, but still are a little firm, add them to the pot of stock
5) When the liquid starts to boil add the potatoes and reduce the heat to simmer
6) Check the flavours, and softness of the veggies, and add salt, pepper, parsley as needed
7) After 20 mins the potatoes should be soft, add the diced chicken meat in last and cook for another 5-10 mins
Taste your soup early and often! You won't know if it's good if you don't taste as you go. If your soup stock was a little weak, I like to add a cube of Organic Vegetable Stock to deepen the flavour.
Order and timing is the key to making sure you don't end up with mushy vegetables!
Cooking the veggies in a skillet before putting them in the soup, really speeds up the process. If you're lazy though, you can put them in directly - it will take longer, but remember - order matters!
I prefer a chunky soup with potatoes, but you can add or swap them for any type of pasta you like. I find that adding already cooked Penne or Rotini at the same time as the chicken works best.
Even better – frozen pot stickers or wontons made on the side, added when serving the soup - Amazing!
Makes about 8 servings (4 if you're a really hungry animator – KP style)
Serve piping hot and top with green onions, and/or Franks Red Hot + on the side!
Now that you're sated - get back to animating!