We are slowly approaching the middle of winter up here in the mountains where the average temperature is in the 30s. So, needless to say, it’s chilly! So much so that I asked for an electric blanket for Christmas because I absolutely dread getting in a cold bed at night. Now, with my new blanket, my toes are nice and toasty as I drift off to sleep. When the temperatures start dropping I often feel the need to warm my body from the inside out and I can’t think of a better way to do that than with a bowl of hot soup.
Soup, in all its forms, has always been one of my comfort foods, but what kind of soup embodies the epitome of comfort? Chicken soup of course! I can practically hear the Campbell’s soup jingle playing in my head as I type this. However, unlike canned soups, this recipe is way more nutritious because we’re using the whole chicken, as opposed to it’s parts, and of course it is homemade, so all the meat and veggies haven’t been stripped of their nutrients from over processing.
From preparing it to savoring it, everything about chicken soup is comforting to me. I often feel meditative when preparing this chicken soup. Even though this is not a family recipe, I feel like chicken soup is an age old recipe that people have been making for generations. So when I partake in that tradition, it feels like I’m carrying on the legacy of traditional food practices with every chop and stir.
A Few Quick Notes: This recipe does require you get your hands dirty. After the soup has cooked, the meat needs to be pulled off the bone. The easiest way to do this is to carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker and transfer it to a large bowl (it will be very hot). Once the chicken is transferred, I start to pull the chicken off the bone using a fork or tongs to help speed up the cooling time then set it aside for about 20 – 30 minutes to let it cool down. Once it has cooled enough to handle, pick through the chicken, transferring the meat back into the slow cooker, this usually only takes about 5 – 8 minutes. You can save the chicken bones to add to a batch of bone broth or discard.
This recipe freezes really well. I usually reserve 2 or 3 servings in a freezer friendly plastic container to save for emergency meals in the future.
1 medium onion, chopped
3 TBS fresh garlic, minced (about 4 -5 cloves)
4 Cups carrots sliced in circles (about 8 medium carrots)
2 Cups celery, chopped
2 Cups kale, chopped
3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pepper (optional)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dill
½ tsp onion powder
5 – 6 pound whole chicken
2 TBS olive oil
7 ½ cups of filtered water or bone broth
Prepare the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and set aside in a large bowl. The kale will added after the soup is cooked. Next, mix together the salt, pepper, oregano, dill, and onion powder in a small bowl and set aside. Layer half of the prepped vegetables in the bottom of a large slow cooker and mix with half of seasoning blend. Remove the chicken from any packaging and remove the giblets inside, if there are any. Rub the chicken with olive oil and remaining seasonings, making sure to rub the inside cavity as well. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and then add the remaining vegetables to the slow cooker. Pour in water or bone broth and cook on high for 7 hours.
Once the soup is done, turn the slow cooker off and carefully remove the chicken and transfer it to a large bowl. Add the kale and stir until it begins to wilt. The chicken will be falling apart as you lift it, so be sure to remove all the bones from the soup. After the chicken cools (see notes above) pull the meat off the bone and add back to the slow cooker. Serve as is or top with avocado and crushed plantain chips for extra healthy fat!