By now you know I'm not one to let anything go to waste...especially when it would make a good soup stock. Can you believe I JUST realized you can make stock from smoked chickens? Missed that boat, folks! And that error of omission was fixed on Sunday.
All the smoke-infused goodness that was left over from Sunday's Cajun-rubbed-beer-can-style chicken was plopped into my soup pot along with onions and celery (with LOTS of leafy celery tops), halved fresh jalapeno for extra kick and lots of garlic...Jane's Crazy salt, too...you know how I love that stuff. As the stock simmered, it became a deep, burnished mahogany red as a result of all the Cajun spices. The stock was gorgeous!
After the pot of stock cooled, it was tucked away into the fridge to mellow overnight. I'd planned on making a version of tortilla soup, but upon tasting the stock decided to go in a different direction. The stock stood on its own and it would be a sin to mask the Cajun flavor. It was perfectly delicious just as it was.
Just a few veggies were needed to round it out, so I roasted fresh tomatoes, zucchini and red pepper slivers. I cooked up a pot of black rice to add a little "heft" to the soup and for the contrast in color. (Have you tried black rice? Packs more flavor and nutrients than regular white rice and is so much prettier than brown rice...I think it might make for a very interesting rice pudding!)
So here's the recipe for a rich, colorful and soothing soup to warm you in the last of the cool days of spring. At least we hope it's the last of the cold weather!
Tomato Smoked Chicken Soup with Black Rice
- 2 quarts chicken stock (approximately), from the carcass of a smoked chicken (see directions below)
- 6 Roma tomatoes, cut in six pieces each, lengthwise - I used Campari tomatoes
- 1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, then across into thin slices
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1" julienned slices
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 large basil leaves, fresh
- cooked chicken, reserved from the stock
- 3 cups cooked black rice - if you can find it, brown or white rice otherwise
- fresh basil leaves, thin slivers, as garnish
Stock: Using the bones, skin and leftover meat from a smoked chicken (that you smoked outside and had been rubbed liberally outside and in with Cajun seasonings), put the chicken pieces into a large soup pot. Add 4-5 celery ribs with ALL the leaves and broken into 3-4 pieces each, 2 peeled and quartered onions, 1 large jalapeno cut in half lengthwise, 2 T. Jane's Crazy salt, 2 T. dried minced garlic and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover. Lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for several hours until the meat falls off the bones and the stock is rich and red. Cool and refrigerate overnight. The next day, first remove all the solidified fat at the top of the stock. Then remove all the meat and reserve. Remove and discard the veggies and strain the stock into another large pot. There should be approximately 2 quarts of stock.
Veggies: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray olive oil over a baking sheet with sides and scatter the tomatoes, red bell pepper slices and zucchini evenly over the baking sheet. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Spray again with olive oil and roast until the veggies are soft.
Soup: While the veggies are roasting, start warming the stock on top of the stove. Add the tomato paste and basil leaves to the stock and when the veggies are ready, add them to the pot along with any accumulated juices on the baking sheet. Stir. Simmer about half an hour, heat the chicken separately. Heat the cooked rice separately.
Serve: Put a rounded scoop of rice in the bottom of a bowl, gently ladle the soup around the rice, add sliced chicken to the top and garnish with slivered fresh basil.
NOTE: If you haven't smoked a chicken, you can use the carcass of a store-bought rotisserie chicken or home roasted chicken and use a nice smoky Cajun seasoning to taste in place of the Jane's Crazy Salt.