When we have anyone come down with an illness, the first thing they want is homemade chicken soup. But I know that I don't always have time to get a good homemade chicken soup made right at that moment so a few years ago, I started using this method to get "Chicken Soup Starter" in the freezer and it's been an amazing gift. To have that liquid gold ready to go - and to be able to get homemade chicken soup in front of a sickie in about 20 minutes is priceless. I will always make this when we have a roast chicken for dinner because it's like free food! Rather than tossing the carcass, make this and toss it when you're done. It's amazing how much it breaks down making the stock!
Here is my batch from today:
The recipe isn't much of a recipe but more of what I just toss together that sounds good and it always makes a great soup.
Chicken Soup Starter
1 chicken carcass from a roasted chicken
2 small onions, cut in half (can leave skins on - even the dark ones)
1 head of garlic, most of the papery skin taken off and then cut into 1/4s (it seems like a lot but it's not and garlic is SOOOO good for illnesses)
3 stalks celery cut into big chunks, including the leaves
3 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1-2 tsp. salt (you can add more later so go lower for this)
about one teaspoon of each of the following dried herbs or whatever combo you prefer: thyme, parsley, rosemary, dill, sage
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
water to cover
Put the chicken carcass and all other ingredients into a 7 quart crockpot. Set the crockpot on low and cook for 12 hours or so. I will put this together after dinner and then deal with it in the morning after I'm done with breakfast.
After 12 hours, set a colander over a large stockpot and pour all of the contents of the crockpot into the colander. Let it sit for 5 minutes to make sure you get all of the liquid out, pressing if you need to assure this. Cover the stockpot and refrigerate then put the colander into a large bowl and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. You will now pick through all the solids and discover just how much meat was still left on those bones! Most of it will be little shreds of meat but that is OK. Pick through and get all the meat you can, watching for the small little bones and any tough stuff that's in there. Discard the solids.
Remove the stock from the fridge and skim off the fat that has gathered at the top. Now you have gorgeous stock and plenty of chicken meat. Divide the stock and meat into smaller freezer containers of your choosing. I like to use containers that hold about 4-6 cups so that I can get a few bowls of soup out of the starter. Label and freeze your starter.
When it's time to serve it, pull it from the freezer, set it into a bowl to thaw enough to remove the starter from the container and set into a pot and put on the stove over a medium low heat. As the starter is melting, cut up one or two carrots, one or two stalks of celery and prepare a small amount of either rice or egg noodles. Add the vegetables to the starter and cook until tender. When it's ready, add the rice or noodles and serve.