Forty Cent Chicken Soup

French Daisies


In the summertime, I bought five pounds of chicken quarters at $.77/lb. A total steal.  AndI had bought ginger, garlic, celery, and carrots. I had grand plans to make curry chicken, which I had’t done in ages. But then a heat wave hit. Who has the will to brown five pounds of chicken quarters when it is HOT? I couldn’t do it. But I didn’t want to freeze it either. So…maybe it’s time to make some chicken soup! Using this recipe means you want a LOT of chicken soup. Are you ready for it? And the chicken meat is soooo tender!

Forty-Cent Chicken Soup

  • 5lbs of chicken quarters (@.77/lb = $3.89);
  • majority of a bunch of celery ($1.79 per bunch);
  • 1 large yellow onion about 3/4 lb ($.99/lb = $.75);
  • most of 2 heads of garlic (sold 2 for $1.00);
  • most of a 1/3 lb chunk of ginger ($2.99/lb = $.93);
  • 1/2 lb of baby carrots (1lb for $1.00, on sale);
  • lots of water; and
  • salt to taste.
  • Total cost: $9.36

    Total elapsed time: 90 min.  (including washing the pot, cutting board, etc.)

    Yield: about 6 quarts (24 cup-servings)

    Cost per serving: 39 cents.

    0. Washing/Chopping

    I washed and chopped the veggies first. Then I washed the chicken. I always handle the meat last, in the interest of food safety.

    1. Sweating the veggies

    I started a skillet on medium. Smashed the garlic cloves, in their skins. Then removed the skins, and added them to the skillet. Then added the chopped onion, celery, carrots and ginger. The proportions are really forgiving. I am fickle about carrots so I don’t put a lot of them. In general, any type of root vegetable – rutabaga, beets, parsnips, daikon, etc. – can be part of the soup (if you have any type of root vegetable. There are a lot of root veggies from the brassica family, a.k.a., the cruciferous vegetables, which are extremely good for you.

    2. Bringing everything to a boil

    Once all the veggies were sweated/carmelized, I added the chicken quarters. I didn’t even feel like removing the chicken skin! So I didn’t. Then I just added water to barely cover and brought everything to a boil, leaving the lid off.

    3. Simmer

    After the water came to a boil, I lowered the heat to a simmer, added the lid, and did something else for about 45 min. The mass of ingredients was too large to place into my pressure cooker safely (you are only supposed to fill it to 2/3 capacity) but this would have been a good one for pressure cooking in a larger pot.

    4. Homemade Chicken Soup is Mine

    I let it cool down, and boiled some pasta for a simple soup-meal. Homemade chicken soup makes everything taste better! I eventually refrigerated it, skimming the fat (schmaltz) off of the top to use later.

    5. Schmaltz

    Chicken breasts are not my favorite. I usually eat them last, when there is no dark meat left. I had some chicken breasts leftover from a whole fryer I was using to make chicken curry, and I thought about trying the schmaltz from the chicken soup. Oh, it was SO good. The schmaltz picked up all the wonderfully deep flavors of the soup and gave them to the chicken breasts.

    Someday I might have to try a stock recipe – just using the bones, and no meat.

    P.S. I added to the Tips page the other day: The always-brilliant Frugal Cuisine says to never throw out chicken fat – use it  in lieu of expensive, fancy butters. Also on the Tips page – how to make a vegan stock.


    6 responses to “Forty Cent Chicken Soup

    1. Sounds good, but I’ve only made stock myself, using just bones. Probably because I have too many chicken recipes, I can’t imagine using up that meat.
      I’ve been hearing good things about schmaltz lately, but I’m addicted to duck fat, so I’ll stick to that.
      For freezing the soup/stock, I portion it out in 2-cup servings into freezer bags. That way, whenever there’s a need to stock, I just reach into the freezer, and there it is.

    2. Oh, I don’t cook the duck. I go to a local Asian grocery store, and buy frozen duck legs (way cheaper than buying at a butcher). I salt them for a day, and then slow-cook them in duck fat at 190F for about 10 hours. Stored in their fat, they’ll keep for about a year.
      The excess fat is slightly salty: slice some potatoes thin, add a nice glob of duck fat, and cook in a hot oven. Best potato chips ever.
      The joy of duck confit.

    3. Wow, a slow cooker can handle duck legs? Thanks for making me drool involuntarily.

    4. Yup, on the low setting. Personally, I use a Dutch oven in the oven set to 190, but I know of folks who use their slow cooker. Which, if you don’t care for your oven to be on for 8-10 hours, is a great deal.

    5. Amazing! I’ll have to try that someday. I never knew confit would be that easy!!

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