It’s official: Fall has arrived in Miami. We woke up this morning to 63 degree weather. I know most other places are already enjoying cooler temperatures but I was walking in 92 degree weather last week. And now finally we can enjoy our days without the oppressive humid heat. Windows are open, the sun is out, and it’s time to think about something warming and delicious.
I love a repurposed meal. Both because I’m very conscious about food waste, but also because I love getting to be creative in the kitchen and making last night’s meal into something new and exciting. This Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Soup makes delicious use of leftover chicken, whether it’s one you roasted the day before or a rotisserie chicken. A quick stock is made from the carcass, filled with warming ginger. The soup itself is filled with chicken meat and veggies. Riced cauliflower adds a hearty texture while fresh herbs and a squeeze of citrus keep things light and bright. This is the perfect soup to straddle the changing seasons, so let’s get into it.
First Make the Stock!
This is a very simple stock to make, just throw everything into a stockpot and let time do its thing. Yes in a pinch you can absolutely use store bought stock but it won’t be as fresh tasting or rich as this homemade one. To start, I remove all the meat from the chicken. I always save roast chicken carcasses. They are essentially free and you will be rewarded with an amazing homemade chicken stock. When I’m feeling extra motivated after dinner, I’ll stuff the carcass into a pot and cover it up with water. No extra seasonings, veggies, or herbs- maybe just some salt. It’s my lazy version but hey, you get extra points if you are cooking late at night. Then just let the broth simmer for several hours while you watch some Netflix or relax with your loved ones. If I’m just not feeling it, I’ll shove the carcass into a freezer bag for another day. The more carcasses, the richer the broth 😉
Today, I’m adding a couple aromatics to boost the flavor but the technique is still simple and basic. If you notice my broth, it’s got a milky look which is not common in Western broths. This is because many Asian broths are cooked at a rapid simmer and the agitation creates the milky color and richer mouth-coating flavor. It’s a quick bone broth which will cool into a thick gel if you refrigerate it. This is how tonkotsu ramen broths and Korean rib soups get their iconic white milky color.
Many times when I make chicken stock, I’m using a whole bird and I’m cooking it over much gentler heat because I want to use the cooked chicken too. Here, it’s just the carcass so I like to keep the heat higher than usual. I keep the pot mostly covered so it doesn’t evaporate too much. If you’ve never had this style of broth, it will be a revelation as the flavor is much more pronounced, perfect for a chicken soup.
Finishing Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Soup
While you can make the stock the day before, I usually just prep everything else while the stock is simmering, starting with aromatics.
You can use already riced cauliflower or you can make your own. I usually keep a bag of riced cauliflower in the freezer for any last minute needs. It’s always there waiting for your inspiration and requires no prep. I’m generally not a fan of frozen vegetables but corn, artichokes, and cauliflower are reliably good. Furthermore, fresh riced cauliflower has a very short shelf life, so make sure you can use it quickly after purchasing.
You can use the pulse feature on a food processor to rice cauliflower as well, though you don’t want it to get too finely chopped or it will be more mush than rice. Once the cauliflower is riced, I prep the fresh herbs and scallions.
Once everything is prepped and ready to go, I heat up a large pot and assemble the Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Soup.
I like to add a drizzle of some fish sauce, a squeeze of fresh lime, and some chopped chilies to really make the flavors pop. You can use sea salt or soy sauce if you prefer. I hope you enjoy Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Soup as much as we do and I’d love to hear what you think.
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For the Chicken Stock:
- 1 or 2 leftover roast chicken carcasses (the more the merrier)
- 10 cups water
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, scrubbed and smashed
- 4 scallions, cut crosswise into thirds
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
For the soup:
- 2 cups cooked diced chicken meat (any leftover chicken is fine)
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 large onion, trimmed and diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- ½ head medium cauliflower (or 1 bag frozen cauliflower rice, about 12 ounces)
- 1 handful baby spinach, about 1 ½ ounces
- 1 Tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
- ½ cup chopped dill or cilantro (or a combination)
- ½ cup minced scallions, 2-3 stems
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- Salt to taste (I used 1 teaspoon)
- Juice of 1 lime
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Break the chicken carcass into a couple of pieces to fit a large (at least 5 quarts) pot and add 10 cups of water. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and scallions to the pot.
- Bring the pot to a simmer over high heat and then lower heat to medium and cover with a lid, leaving a small crack. Simmer briskly for about 2 hours (check occasionally that there is enough liquid. Add a little water if you’re worried). The chicken broth will be a milky color. Strain and discard the solids. You should yield about 6 cups of liquid. If not, add some water to make up the difference.
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large (at least 5 quarts) heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and sprinkle with a little salt. Stir fry for a minute and then lower heat to medium. Cook for 4-6 minutes until the onion is softened, stirring regularly.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.
- Add the cauliflower rice and broth and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce to medium, cover with a lid, and simmer until the cauliflower is completely tender, 10-15 minutes. (If you’re using frozen cauliflower rice which is already par-boiled, you will not need to cook it as long)
- Stir in the diced chicken and spinach. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all are tender and the flavors meld, about 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro and dill, chopped scallion, fish sauce, and fresh lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Soup immediately.
*The lime juice will cause the greens in the soup to turn to an olive color if you do not eat the soup immediately. You can serve wedges of limes at the table if you prefer. If you are making the soup ahead of time leave the herbs and lime juice out. When you are ready to serve, reheat and add the herbs at that time.
Keywords: soup, chicken soup, rotisserie chicken, cauliflower rice, fall, winter, ginger