Actually, In the past, I have found that for all the work, chicken soup leaves me wanting...and regretting. After spending hours making soup, involving the hated chore of deboning the chicken, it seems to be a tasteless chunky liquid. Have you ever experienced that?
Seriously, I had made it off and on for more than a decade and each time vowing never to waste my time on this again. Then every fall, I get inspired to feed my family "mother's penicillin" and try again. The cycle continued.
Last year, I purchased an Amish chicken from my local butcher, placed it in a crock pot, filled the pot with water, added onions, garlic, a bay leaf, a little apple cider vinegar, a bit of salt and let it cook for almost 24 hours. I set the crockpot on high for 2-3 hours then low for the rest of the time.
Just before it was done, I saute onions, garlic, carrots, and any other veggies we love in a cast iron dutch oven. I love using cast iron but it sure is heavy. Look at it as a workout added to your cooking.
Making sure the veggies are nice and golden brown and caramelized. Once the veggies were done, I poured the chicken stock into the pot of veggies, making sure to use a strainer to catch "extras."
~INSERT NOTE~ Almost every recipe calls for cooling the stock then skimming off the fat. Feel free to do that. It seems like too much work, chicken soup takes long enough to make and this soup tasted AMAZING with the fat all in there. ~END OF NOTE~
After the chicken cooled a bit, I removed the breast meat and added it to the cast iron dutch oven. For the best flavor, I added turmeric, parsley, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper, making sure to simmer on low for ONLY a short time or the meat gets tough and dries out.
Here is a secret ingredient...Better than Bouillon. Yup. The thing with homemade stock is that, even though it contains amazing nutrients, the flavor is, let's face it, weak. So, Better than Bouillon brings your soup from average to wonderful with just 2 tablespoons. Yes, it contains less than great ingredients but it makes a killer soup and you use so little of it. Try it.
+1 grass-fed hormone-free whole chicken (or whatever chicken you have...no judgment. You are making homemade soup, right?)
+veggies like onions, garlic, corn, peas, cabbage (adds great flavor and nutrition)
+apple cider vinegar
+favorite spices like bay leaf, thyme, salt, pepper, and parsley
+rice if you need for texture (or for filling up 5 teenagers ;)
NOTE: This recipe is for a crockpot. If you choose to make this soup in the instant pot, the recipe will change. I do think the crockpot for broth is better as it comes out more gelatinous than the instant pot. Most other things, the instant pot is better and MUCH quicker. For the time, the difference is minimal.
DAY ONE MORNING: Rinse the chicken and remove the bag inside (if there is one). Place chicken, cabbage, onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar in your crockpot in the morning of day one or afternoon if you forget in the morning. It should be on high only until the water is hot and bubbly then turn it on low or simmer in the crock pot. Cooking on high dries out the chicken meat.
DAY TWO LATE AFTERNOON or EARLY EVENING: In a warm dutch oven, add olive oil and butter then onions, garlic until onions are translucent. Next add carrots, corn or any veggies you want and cook until browned.
Using a strainer over the dutch oven containing the veggies, pour the chicken stock over the veggies. De-bone the chicken when cooled and add that to the pot, also. Don't forget my secret ingredient, Better Than Boullion. Add about a Tablespoon to this batch.
Cook on low heat for not more than 15-20 minutes to meld flavors.
I will say this is better the second day. Amazing really. Aren't most soups?
So there you have it. Hope you enjoy a warm bowl of this soon. Happy Fall.
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