Van's Oh So Simple But Oh So Good Chicken Soup
First you start with a chicken. You roast the chicken. You eat the chicken. Boil the carcass, skin and leftovers in a pot. For a long time. Chill. Remove the fat. Add vegetables, salt and pepper. Boil until done.
See. I promised you simple. It's the tips and advice that take so much writing.
You want the best chicken you can find. Naturally I recommend Firefly Farms chicken. Humanely raised on organic feed without soy. USDA Inspected.
I've been making this soup for decades. It was inspired by the children's story "Stone Soup". This is meant for a chicken carcass, but you can make it from a whole roast chicken. Roast the chicken first to drive the flavor into the meat and bones. Please get a copy of our "Simple Roast Chicken" recipe when you purchase your Firefly Farms chicken if you need suggestions.
Some of the ingredient amounts may seem vague. I can't know how big your bird is/was or how you like your soup - Thick? Hearty? Lots of broth? Please, if you can, use organic vegetables. For amounts, I add the vegetables, give it a stir, look at it and if it looks "right", we are good!
The secret ingredient in this recipe is "love". Please use freely and continuously while making this soup.
Use a pot that will hold the carcass. You may need to pull it apart to make it fit. Cover with water. Add a couple of bay leaves and boil. And boil. Simmer is an option as well. And go on and on. You want to boil the bird until the meat is off the bones and the cartilage is very soft. That is where you get the bone broth boost. You are probably going to need to let this work 3 or 4 hours.
Have a spot cleared in your refrigerator and let the bones and broth sit overnight. If you are doing this in deep winter, a protected spot exposed to outside and not exposed to doggies, cats, raccoons, skunks, bears or mountain lions works very well.
After many hours or overnight, the fat will have collected on top. Skim it off. Firefly Farms chicken fat has to be really cold (freezing) to harden. This is the side effect of a really high quality diet.
Once the fat is gone, (What you have in the fat is flavored "schmaltz" - great for roasting Brussels sprouts or frying potatoes.) warm the broth just a little. The very cold broth will make it uncomfortable to pick the bones.
That is what you are doing now. Picky, picky, picky. I use another pot to collect the meat, a container for the skin and cartilage for the kitties, the dogs and the pigs and a bag for bones to go to compost. This is where the "patience" ingredient is used. You want to be meticulous in separating the meat. As you get near the end, get a sieve and strain the broth into the pot where you have the meat.
Using either pot, but the broth and meat back on the stove top. Cut up the potatoes. With all my veggies, I like large pieces because I get more flavor out of them. My family does not. I make the soup. Guess how big the pieces will be?
The potatoes take longest to cook. Add a few more bay leaves if you like. Wait a few minutes and add the carrots. Next is the celery. Then the onions and garlic. This is the time to start seasoning. Just, I repeat, just salt and pepper. You may use anything you want, but the simplicity of the seasoning lets all the flavors come to the fore. Please hold a little short on what you think the soup may need. You, lucky you, may have been tasting all along and your taste buds may have gotten used to the flavors. Let those you love add the last bit.
When all the ingredients are almost to the level of tenderness you prefer, put in the mushrooms. They will float around merrily until they are cooked and then most of them will sink.
Soup time! Enjoy with a good baguette and perhaps a great glass of wine. Good cheese or Wildowsky butter is appropriate with the bread.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is exactly what I make for my family... with love. So simple and so good.