Melissa Hemsely's rescue noodle soup with leftover chicken
There’s nothing quite like a warming bowl of homemade soup to make you feel a thousand times better.
If I’ve had a Sunday roast chicken, I make this on a Monday to get a great boost of vegetables in. It’s based on store cupboard and freezer ingredients like frozen peas, onion, garlic and carrots, though you could swap in anything that needs using up.
You can up the amount of vegetables or noodles here, so adjust to your liking. Post-Christmas and other celebrations, this is a fantastic way to use up leftover turkey or any other leftover meats.
Rescue noodle soup with leftover chicken
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
1 tbsp butter or ghee
1 large leek or onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.2 litres vegetable stock or chicken broth
1 big handful of a mix of fresh herbs, like parsley and dill, leaves and stems chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 handfuls of 2 cm chunks of root veg like sweet potato, squash, pumpkin, potato or (in the summer) courgette
400g noodles or spaghetti/pasta, any type (or use whatever quantity of cooked leftovers you have)
1 tsp olive oil
300g mix of cabbage, rainbow chard and/or chard, stems finely chopped
and leaves shredded
300g leftover shredded chicken
Juice of ¼ lemon or 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 big handfuls of frozen peas or sweetcorn
Sea salt and black pepper
(See Flexi Swap tip for optional extras)
1. In a large wide saucepan, heat the butter or ghee and fry the leek or onion over a medium heat for 8 minutes while you prepare everything else. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
2. Add the stock or broth, chopped parsley or dill stems, thyme, bay leaf, celery, carrot, root vegetables and season with salt and pepper, pop the lid on and cook for 15 minutes until the root vegetables are almost tender.
3. Skip this step if you have leftover cooked noodles or pasta. Meanwhile, cook the noodles or pasta in a separate pan until almost tender (check the label for suggested timings), then drain and rinse under cold water to stop them cooking further. Toss with the olive oil to stop them clumping and set aside.
4. Back to your soup pan: add the chopped cabbage and chard stems, shredded chicken, lemon juice or vinegar and cook for a few more minutes. Add the chard leaves, frozen peas or sweetcorn and cooked noodles/pasta for a final 2 minutes so that the chard wilts, the peas cook and the noodles/pasta heat through. Season to taste and serve up straight away, topped with the fresh herb leaves.
Waste not: You don’t have to use noodles here, you can add any pasta shapes you like so just use whatever odds and ends of pasta packets you have. You could even add the pasta straight into the soup to cook and save on using a second pan.
Flexi swap - For a vegetarian version, swap the chicken for 500g roughly chopped mushrooms and a pinch of dried seaweed or seaweed salt. Sometimes I add even more garlic and a thumb of grated ginger plus 1 tsp ground turmeric for an extra boost. Try adding a tablespoon of miso or Tamari just before serving or swap the herbs for coriander and mint.
If you’ve got a lemon chopped already, add some lemon juice in, otherwise a little dash of a store cupboard vinegar like apple cider vinegar (my favourite) works well to add a little brightness.
If you end up throwing out halves of lemons, slice them and put them in a reusable baggie or container in the fridge, then you’ve got a nice frozen garnish for your Gin & Tonic or chop it up or squeeze it and add to ice cube trays and pop in the freezer.