Spicy Chicken and Orzo Soup (crock pot)

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With my husband sick last week I wanted to make a good but easy chicken noodle soup.  Using a whole chicken, I broke it down and cooked it all day in the slow cooker to develop a spicy homemade broth.  Adding orzo noodles at the end you can finish the meal with little effort.  The hardest part of this dish was breaking down the raw chicken, very different from carving a cooked bird.  I had never really done this before, but I have read about it in my cooking magazines.  Don’t let them fool you, it is a bit of a process.  For those of you who don’t like to handle raw chicken…this is not for you.  I unfortunately don’t have pictures of the process as I didn’t want to get raw chicken hands on my phone.

Here is a link to a brief tutorial.  http://www.marthastewart.com/967789/how-cook#973692

Now I cut mine a little differently because I didn’t watch the tutorial first, rather went from memory.  Using kitchen shears I cut the bird in half through the spine and finished separating right from left by then splitting the breasts.  With the two equal halves I cut off the legs and wings.

If you don’t want to deal with bones you can use boneless and skinless chicken breasts, but I’m not sure you will develop the same flavor in the broth without the bones and skin.

I decided to use the orzo noodles for a smoother consistency with the large pieces of chicken, but you can use a traditional egg noodle or whatever noodle you want.  The fun part of cooking with orzo is that on day two the noodles will soak up almost all of the broth making a thick casserole consistency for the leftovers.

The best part about this meal is that it is very cheap to make a large quantity of food.  Whole chickens are inexpensive compared to buying the pieces separately.  I paid $5 for the whole chicken and about $3-4 for the rest of the ingredients (except spices that I had on hand).  After we had this for dinner I put the rest into mason jars for lunch, it made enough for 2 of us for the entire week.  Less processed and way less sodium than the canned stuff!

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Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds), broken down into pieces.
1 large onion, diced
6 large carrots, peeled and diced
6 stalks of celery, diced
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 dried chili pepper (Optional for heat)
4-5 sprigs of thyme, stems removed
1 bay leaf
1 lb orzo noodles, uncooked.
water
salt and pepper to taste (be generous, at least 1-2 tsp of salt and pepper each)

Directions:

1. Break down your chicken as instructed above.

2. Layer the crock pot with onions, celery, carrots and top with chicken.

3. Season with salt and pepper generously, add garlic, thyme, chili pepper and bay leaf.

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4. Fill the crock pot with cold water.  Cook on high for 2 hours then cook on low for 4 hours.

5. At least 30 minutes before serving add orzo noodles and stir gently.

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6. To serve ladle out noodles and vegetables with a whole piece of chicken per person.  The chicken will literally fall off the bone in your bowl, so you can grab end and it will come out clean with little effort.

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7. For storage remove the rest of the pieces of chicken and separate meat from bones, stir to mix well (you can do this immediately if you don’t want to serve the chicken pieces whole).

Enjoy!

 

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