Writing this series has me on quite a journey. We've talked about so many of the elements that go into making a truly incredible chicken soup: the fat, the feet, the organs, the age... and most importantly the blood. I hope you've learned as much as me, so with no further ado enjoy the recipe!
Heritage Chicken Soup
Prep time: 1-2 hours
Cook time: 8- 10 hours
1 whole 4-6 lb heritage stewing chicken including the feet, gizzard, heart and neck - (if you source smaller 2-3 pound hens than you can use 2 birds)
2-4 tablespoons schmaltz (add more or less shmaltz depending on how fat your chicken is)
1 big bag of fresh or frozen vegetable scraps - such as onion skins & ends, carrot peels, celery leaves & buts, leek tops etc..
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 medium yellow onions - quartered
1 head of garlic - 1/2 peeled and the other half minced
3/4 pound carrots - roughly chopped into large pieces
3/4 pound celery - roughly chopped into large pieces
3/4 pound cauliflower - roughly chopped (optional, adds thickness to the soup)
1 1/2 pound russet potatoes -peeled and halved or quartered
3/4 pound parsnip or celery root - peeled and roughly chopped into large pieces
1 head of fresh parsley - minced
1 pinch of dried thyme
Your choice of fresh herbs, I personally enjoy thyme or dill (optional)
A few cups of fully cooked noodles or rice (optional)
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste (optional)
They say that “blood runs thicker than water”; well, in the case of poultry, it also runs deeper than feed or environment. While most feel secure in the animal welfare standards of organic and pasture-raised poultry, they don’t realize that the single most important thing one should consider when buying chicken or turkey is the bloodlines these animals come from. Should you buy hybrids or heritage? If you want to make the world’s best chicken soup, there’s only one way to go.
In America organ meat, aka offal, is mostly thought of as the “awful” leftover bits and pieces of an animal. But throughout history and even today, cultures in places like China, Scotland and South America, just to name a few, have thought organs to be some of the choicest cuts. The chicken bits most commonly eaten are livers, hearts and gizzards. Livers are great on the grill but not so much in soup, so I will mainly be focusing on the latter two today.
Most meat eaters I know don’t like to think about the fact that they are chewing on an actual animal when eating their steak or chicken breast. Many are put off by biting into cartilage or seeing a stray feather on their supermarket bird. Needless to say, when it comes to chicken feet they are simply repulsed. I was originally part of this crowd as well. But after exposure to the amazing flavor and texture they add to soup… I couldn’t help but be hooked! Our culture’s rejection of this part of our birds has cost us a great deal: not only in flavor, but also in nutritive value. I want to challenge all my readers to expand their horizons. Power through your initial rejection, and a land of thick, divine chicken soup awaits you!
One of greatest disconnects I've found between people and the meat they eat is in knowing the age of the animals they consume. Most seem to assume that it takes a chicken several years of growth to reach their plate; they are very surprised to hear that their supermarket chickens are in fact slaughtered after only 5 ½ weeks. Sixty years ago, knowing how old a chicken is was considered essential knowledge for determining the method used to cook it. But with the advent of hybridization and the modern poultry production system, our centuries old knowledge of how to cook chickens of every age has all but disappeared.
About the blog:
Welcome to The Kosher Omnivore's Quest! My old blog on kosher slaughter, kosher meat, and animal welfare. For new content check out my new website, The Kosher Cut™. There you'll find: blog posts about shechita and related topics, educational slaughter presentations, kosher slaughter training, and a selection of high quality professional kosher slaughter equipment.