One thing that I don’t have on my little homestead is a chicken coop full of hens and chicks. We are in an agrarian area, but covenants that came with our property specify no large livestock. We can have horses, but no cows, pigs, etc. However, a neighbor once cleared land with goats and nobody batted an eye (so I am assuming that goats aren’t considered large livestock) and a couple of others down the road raise chickens, so I am pretty sure that would be okay here.
But, I have a chicken hating father, who can’t abide the idea of having hens running around. Even when I have offered to keep them in a fenced enclosure or build a “chicken tractor” to get my eggs, he hasn’t softened one bit. Sigh.
I truly enjoy pastured eggs. I really do. And, as much as I would enjoy having my own source of healthy eggs, I don’t want to cause too much consternation for my family members. So, at least for now, poultry is out of the question.
The next best thing to having my own flock of hens, is a good ol’ bowl of homemade chicken soup! I bet you wondered what my desire for gateway livestock would have to do with soup. For one thing, soup is one of the best things to do with a hen that is past her prime laying years. No, I am not heartless, but I just can’t see having chickens as pets. I know, I know. Not everybody is willing to go there and that is okay, too.
But, even without homegrown hens, I can make a mean pot of homemade chicken soup that celebrates the humble chicken. It’s that good. And, you can do it, too!
The secret to a superior chicken soup is really all in the broth. If you can avoid it, try not to use chicken stock. Stock is made from the meat and isn’t cooked very long. Stock will be straw colored and not nearly as rich and tasty as a good bone broth. Broth is made by cooking bones and some meat with or without veggies and salt. I always put onion and garlic in mine (you can even put the skins in as it will all be filtered out later), but there is no rule that says you have to. If I have carrots, a celery heart (or the end pieces that have leaves on them), a piece of cauliflower that has seen better days, broccoli stems, onion peels, etc. then I will throw ’em in. Basically, it’s a good way to take iffy looking produce and use it rather than throw it out. I would throw in just about anything except collard (with or without stems) because the only catch is to keep delicate leafy things like herbs out until the last 30 minutes or so, so they don’t get cooked to death! Oh, and I usually throw about 5 whole peppercorns in at the beginning, too. To learn more about preparing broths, click here.
I am nuts enough about homemade broths that I will make up large batches and can pints and quarts of the stuff to use later. It’s totally worth it!
But, back to the soup. In my large crockpot (I think it is a 6 quart model), I will chop up a fresh onion, add 4-5 cloves of minced garlic (we love garlic, if you don’t then cut it in half), a stem or two of finely chopped celery, and 2-3 peeled carrots cut into small rounds. I toss in a couple of cups or so of chopped or shredded chicken (can be cooked or uncooked), a Tablespoon of salt, a few grinds of fresh, black pepper, and 2-3 quarts of homemade turkey or chicken bone broth. If I add 2 quarts of broth, I will add 1 quart of water and two bullion cubes or the equivalent in granules. You can always add more water or broth if you want a fuller crock of soup, just remember to add 2 bullion cubes for every quart of water you add.
Turn crockpot on high and let it cook for an hour or so and then switch it to low and let it simmer for at least 4 hours. Add 1 cup of rice for the last hour of cooking time. Taste and adjust seasonings if you like. Then serve with a salad and freshly baked rolls. It’s a delicious meal and perfect for a chilly, winter’s day!
I hope you enjoy this easy recipe for Chicken Soup. Once you have broth canned and ready to go at a moment’s notice, it’s quite simple to get a delicious dinner started!
What’s your favorite soup recipe? Share it in the comments below.
Till next time,