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Old School Chicken Soup
Less than 100 years ago people only ever made chicken soup with tough old spent hens and roosters. These tough old birds could withstand the prolonged cooking time required for a stellar soup and, because chickens get more flavorful with age, would impart an intense full flavor. Today people almost always make chicken soup with birds that are only a few weeks old. The meat from these young birds is too tender and mild in flavor to make chicken soup as it should be. That's why this old school recipe calls for a traditional stewing chicken (at least 1 years old) to be used. Stewing fowl can usually only be found by searching around local farms. Even though most of the birds from these farms are thin hybrid laying hens, they'll do if that's all you can find. But if you can find a fat old heritage stewing hen or rooster you'll be in for an even better treat, soup truly like Grandma's. Ingredients 1 whole 4-6 lb stewing hen or rooster 2 tablespoons schmaltz 2-4 chicken feet (optional) 1-2 quarts of chicken stock for extra flavor (optional) 2 medium yellow onions - quartered 5-10 cloves of garlic - peeled 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 pinch of dried thyme 1/2 cup parsley or dill - minced fully cooked noodles or rice (optional)
Preparation Start off by parting your chicken. Place schmaltz, onion, and peeled garlic in a large pot on medium high heat. After cooking for 5 minutes add chicken, chicken feet and stock (if using), and enough water to cover you chicken as well as some extra for the veggies that will be added later. Bring pot to a gentle boil, turn down heat, and simmer for 2-3 hours.
Uncover pot and add in your chopped veggies and dried thyme. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for another 2-4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. The overall cooking time for your stewing fowl can be anywhere from 4-8 hours and will vary depending on the size and age of your bird.
When the soup is finished cooking turn off the heat, add fresh herbs, and serve with fully cooked rice or noodles.