Leftover Roast Chicken Soup

This leftover roast chicken soup recipe is easy as can be. Just toss a chicken carcass in a pot with some aromatics, add water, soy sauce, and apple cider, and forget about it for a while.

A closeup if leftover roast chicken soup with onions, chicken broth, celery, chicken carcass

Christina Tosi refers to this leftover roast chicken soup as “overnight chicken soup” because she dumps a chicken carcass in a pot and then leaves the flame on low and slow overnight. As she explains, “the depth is insane when you roll slow and low, challenging reason and basic safety, leaving a whole carcass, with plenty of meat on it, to simmer overnight.” The result is that you’re able to coax out “every last slurp of flavor into the soup,” says Tosi. “Just cover the bird with water and say ‘night, night.'” adds Tosi. Just like grandma knew how to do. Although you don’t need to check your homeowner’s insurance before making this as you can just as easily let the pot of soup barely burble over low heat during the day when you can cautiously keep watch over it. Either way, the meat turns incredibly tender and there’s no fuss at all. Tastes exactly like something grandma would make. Originally published January 23, 2016.Renee Schettler Rossi

Leftover Roast Chicken Soup

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 10 H
  • Serves 6 to 10

Special Equipment: Slow cooker (if following the slow cooker method)

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Ingredients

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  • Roast chicken carcass with some meat attached (on the wings, back, etc.)
  • Any aromatics you desire (you know, the usual stuff including garlic, herbs, onion, carrots, ginger, etc.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup soy sauce (Christina Tosi likes Kikkoman)
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  • 1. To make the Leftover Roast Chicken Soup in your slow cooker, see the Slow Cooker Variation below.

    To make the Leftover Roast Chicken Soup on your stovetop, combine the chicken carcass and any residual meat and desired aromatics in a large stock pot (5- to 8-quart capacity) and fill the pot with water so the chicken is fully submerged. Set over the lowest of low heat, lid that puppy 3/4 of the way so the water can evaporate a little bit but not too much, and leave it for at least 6 hours, skimming any scum that accumulates on the surface of the stock but leaving any puddles of fat. [Editor’s Note: Christina Tosi leaves the stock simmering overnight. You may or may not wish to do the same. We guess it depends on your level of risk taking and whether your homeowner’s insurance is up to date.]
  • 2. Remove the pot from the heat. Your kitchen smells amazing, right? Strain the liquid from the chicken into another large pot and let the solids rest in the strainer. Walk away for a little while. Brush your teeth. Brush your hair. The chicken should be cool enough to handle at this point.
  • 3. Using your hands, separate the chicken meat from the bones, aromatics, and gelatin. Don’t be grossed out—put your best farm girl face on, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. This should yield 2 to 3 cups light and dark meat, depending on how much chicken you ate the night before. Toss the bones and stuff in the trash. Add the shredded chicken to the pot with the broth. (You can cover and refrigerate the soup until dinnertime.)
  • 4. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer. If you want, you can clean out your fridge by throwing in a handful of baby carrots, chopped onion, Brussels sprouts, spinach, or whatever else you’ve got languishing in your vegetable bin. It’ll taste awesome. Simmer until the soup is warmed through and any vegetables are tender.
  • 5. Stir in the soy sauce, apple cider, and black pepper to taste and ladle into bowls.

Leftover Roast Chicken Soup Variations

  • Slow Cooker Leftover Roast Chicken Soup
  • Toss your roast chicken carcass and desired aromatics (that means vegetables or herbs) in your slow cooker and cook on slow for 8 hours or overnight. (Trust us, the only thing better than the smell of coffee in the morning is the aroma of chicken soup.) Continue with step 3 in the instructions above. Easy just got even easier.
  • Leftover Roast Chicken Soup with Carbs
  • If you like rice or pasta, cook some up in a separate pot, stealing some of the broth from the soup pot to use as your cooking liquid.
  • Egg Drop Soup With Leftover Roast Chicken
  • Lightly whisk 3 eggs to combine. Stir the finished soup in a clockwise direction and, while still stirring, pour in the eggs in a slow, steady stream. Continue to stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until egg ribbons form. Ladle into bowls and garnish with thinly sliced scallions if you’ve got ’em.

Recipe Testers Reviews

I think this leftover roast chicken soup kicks some serious butt! For reasons that will soon become obvious, the hands-on time took no more time than it takes to cut fresh basil, rosemary, and lemon thyme from my garden, chop some carrots and onions, and, of course, toss it all in the pot. I shaved a few hours off the process by tooling into my local Publix and scooping up one of their gorgeous rotisserie chickens. (Laziness and ingenuity go hand in hand.)

My perfectly cautious wife was having no part of simmering anything overnight while we slept, so like a good soldier, I put the soup on early in the morning. I simmered the concoction in an 8-quart Le Creuset for about 8 hours. When I first began to eat the soup, I was disappointed, but then like magic I remembered the soy sauce and apple juice. Now my soup tasted just like something grandma made. Wonderful! This easy chicken soup improved daily, as soups are wont to do.

I'm always looking for slow cooker recipes. This leftover roast chicken soup might seem obvious, but I think it's nice to have a reminder. You can use all parts of your chicken, and you can do it right after roasting a chicken. So rather than storing the bones in the freezer to make stock at a later date, it seems logical to just throw it into the slow cooker while you're cleaning up.

I usually have carrots in the fridge, but I also keep veggie peels to use in stock. For this chicken soup, I used ends from onions I'd stashed in the the freezer and 1 carrot. I left it in the crockpot overnight. I only got 4 cups soup, but I started with a small chicken. I served the chicken soup for dinner 2 nights later. I added some of the leftover shredded chicken and the add-ins listed in the recipe. I also made some brown rice and some sautéed spinach and mushrooms that everyone put in their bowls and then ladled the soup over the top. A great way to have chicken leftovers without being boring.

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Comments

  1. I often make chicken stock from leftover chicken but I find that when I cook it for that long and yes, I do cook it overnight, the chicken in the stock has no taste anymore. It’s like it has given all its taste to the broth and is in itself, tasteless. Thoughts??

    1. Sorry, hit submit too soon. So, what I have started doing is after about 2 hours, I take the meat of the bones and put the bones back in the stock and leave that cooking for a lifetime. I put the meat back in when I make the soup. Anyway, still looking for comments…

      1. Thank you, Sagar. Excellent advice. We’ve done that, too, and it works well. It’s a fine line when to take the meat off the bones so that there’s sufficient flavor imparted to the stock yet the meat retains some. We also make certain to have the heat super low beneath the stock so it’s at a bare burble to keep the stock clear. We so appreciate you taking the time to respond…

        1. Thank you Renee. I made turkey soup yesterday and had the same experience. Fortunately, I took the meat off after about two hours and threw the bones back in. I cooked it for about 36 hours on a very low low simmer so it looks like it is not even cooking. The flavor of the soup is fine but whatever is left of the meat on the bones is tasteless really. I threw in a little salt not too much because usually I have to reduce the stock to get more flavor. I think my two questions are what is a perfect ratio of water to bones/carcass if you are going to cook it overnight and should I salt at all?

          1. Sagar, I believe the old law of physics applies here. Energy is neither created nor destroyed. (And, as my editor at The Washington Post once joked as she dropped a stack of work on my desk, it just moves from one office to the other!) The energy in question here is the flavor of the chicken. And I think the flavor slips into the stock and simply can’t also flavor the chicken.

            I would love to give you a perfect ratio of water to bones although so much depends on the size of the pot you’re using as you want the carcass to be covered by several inches of water at the start and to remain mostly submerged during cooking. The amount of water, though, depends in part on the diameter of your pot.

            That said, I spent years of my life seeking the perfect proportions and once wrote about it. I personally found that 5 pounds chicken parts to 4 quarts (16 cups) water gave the depth and richness I desired. And you can apply that ratio here. Not to self-promote, but if you like, you can still find that chicken stock recipe (as well as many of the tricks and techniques I learned along the way) here. The recipe I used was based on one created by the late Judy Rodgers, a magnificent chef and equally magnificent writer.

  2. In the same vein as the above left over chicken, I love to buy the roasted chickens from Costco for $5 and make multiple meals. I always bring home the chicken and strip most of the meat for many other uses, and then take the skin and bones and juices and put them in a pan with additional chicken stock, the standard onion, celery and carrots and let the steep for hours. Then strain all solids and put the remaining stock in the refrigerator over night and the following day, skim the fats off of the top to use elsewhere and you have a luscious stock of consequence to use in a soup or sauce.

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