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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Healing Chicken Soup Recipe (Paleo/Gluten Free)

As Dressember comes to a close, the cold and flu "season" fast approaches, and we have a newborn coming soon, this will be one of the most common things I make in our household over the next few months. I also try to take this to any friends who are sick, or if I sign up to bring a dish to a family with a new baby or something like that. It is a little time-consuming, but so delicious, healthy, and easy, I really enjoy making this for my family and others when I have the time.

I got most of this recipe/idea from the Mama Baby Love original e-cookbook, but then modified it some to fit our family.  She says that the healing properties are best with all organic ingredients (meats and veggies especially) and no added carbs (noodles/rice/potatoes), but if you are just eating it for fun/flavor you can add one of the carbs if you wish. I have rarely added any carbs to this because it is so healthy and filling as is. You need a large crockpot and about an hour of prep time, 4 hours of cook-time, and another half hour of prep time at the end.  Everything you discard from the chicken and the veggies can be saved to make easy crock-pot chicken broth the same or next day, and you are getting twice the 'mileage' out of the ingredients with a great homemade broth and almost no trash or waste!

Soup And Broth Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken thawed (I prefer to use organic, and the flavor is actually a little more rich)
7 Carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, roughly sliced (optional - I don't include this because my husband doesn't like celery)
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Large bag of Kale or 1 fresh bunch of Kale (spinach adds a different flavor, but I have used it before and it was still pretty good, honestly the kale tastes better)
1 Can Chicken Broth (Check for Gluten-free on this if it is for a friend with Celiac)
4 Bay Leaves
4-6 Cups Filtered Water (straight out of the tap does not make this taste very good. I use a Brita filter pitcher, but any filtered water should taste fine).
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon basil (or fresh leaves)
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon parsley (or fresh leaves)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Soup Instructions:

1. Rinse the chicken, cleaning out the neck bone/organs from body cavity and putting them aside in a medium to large bowl, which will become your broth ingredients as you add to it - the 'discard bowl.'  Place the whole chicken in the crockpot, doesn't matter which side up, and sprinkle generously with the salt. Turn crock pot on low.

2. Wash and separate the kale leaves from stems.  Save stems and a few leaves in discard bowl.  Rip remaining leaves up and add to crockpot.

3. Wash, peel, and chop the carrots.  Save the peelings and tops of the carrots and add to your discard bowl You can roughly chop one carrot without peeling for the discard bowl as well.

4. Wash and chop celery, add to crock pot.  Save ends and roughly chop one stalk for discard bowl.

5. Peel onion - I throw away the outermost thin papery skin, but put at least one or two outer layers roughly chopped in the discard bowl. I add another half or whole onion to the discard bowl, for flavor in the broth. Finely chop the interior of the onion and add to crockpot.

6. Add all seasonings and bay leaves to crock pot, and add same seasonings to discard bowl in same or slightly smaller amounts.

7. Pour the can of chicken broth in first. Then add filtered water until your crockpot is absolutely full, but will not spill out with the lid firmly in place.  Put foil or a lid on your discard bowl, and place it in the fridge.

8. Turn crock-pot to High once all ingredients are in, and cook just like that for 2 hours. Then you need to flip the chicken over (I use two forks, stick in both ends and carefully lift it up about half-way out of the crock-pot and then flip it). Stir the veggies up, making sure the carrots stay under the water, and cook that way for two more hours.

9. After at least 4 hours of total cook time (five hours is also fine), you need to have a separate empty bowl to place your chicken.  Get your discard bowl out of the fridge.  I use a fork and lift as much of the whole chicken as possible down into the clean bowl. Let it sit about 5 minutes to cool enough for you to pull it apart. This is a good time to use a slotted spoon to fish out the bay leaves from the crockpot and add them to the discard bowl.  Then begin pulling the meat off the bone in strips, tear it up, and put all of the meat back into the crock-pot. Put all of the chicken skin, fat, and bones into your discard bowl. When you get all the meat of the bones, and bones in your discard bowl, there will probably be some juice/water/broth and veggie pieces in the bottom of the bowl, which I pour back into the crockpot.  Put your discard bowl back in the fridge.

10. Stir the meat and veggies well, turn off crock pot, and let sit for about 15 minutes to soak up all the flavor. Serve piping hot!

My husband always adds hot sauce to his bowl of soup.  We didn't have hot sauce this time, and three good shakes of crushed red pepper did the trick. You can also add lemon juice if you enjoy that flavor.  Both hot sauce/red pepper and lemon together are great in this soup for busting up a cold/congestion.

My kids don't drink their broth well, so I mostly scoop their portions with just solid pieces, but they are happy to eat the chicken/carrots/kale like that.

Try to cook this on a day when you know most of your family will be able to consume a large portion of the soup, so that you can put remaining soup in a storage container, and then have the empty crockpot to make your broth.  You can also save your discard bowl for about 3-4 days in the fridge while you finish the soup out of the crock-pot, if you don't want to make your broth immediately.

The natural chicken fat will solidify in the fridge - so don't be alarmed at the solid yellow/greenish film on top of things.  Reheat it and it will melt back down - this is delicious and healthy, don't try to skim it off!

Broth Instructions:

1. You do not even need to wash the crock pot if you just took out the last of your soup! The juices hanging on from the soup are great for the broth.

2.  Dump everything from your discard bowl into the crockpot.

3. Add filtered water until crock pot is absolutely full again.

4. Cook on low for 12-24 hours.  Cook for at least 12 hours, no more than 24. Stir at least once while cooking.

5. Turn off crock pot and have a large colander over a large metal or glass bowl.  Scoop solid pieces out onto colander, and stir and shake to get the juices to fall down to the bowl beneath.  I do maybe 3 big ladle-fulls, and then dump the colander solids into the trash or compost. Repeat until all solids for the most part are out of the crockpot. Allow crockpot to cool enough to pick it up, and pour into the colander/bowl. Lift the colander, shake, and again dump solid pieces into trash.

6. The remaining liquid in the bowl is your homemade chicken broth! This golden goodness can be added to almost anything to add flavor and healthy vitamins and minerals.  Once cooled, I scoop it up and store in freezer quart-sized zip-lock bags in the freezer.  This is about 3-4 cups per bag.

I use this broth whenever I cook rice or quinoa, or make a soup. It is fine to drink it in a mug as well, and so good for colds/congestion. Hot sauce or crushed red pepper and lemon juice can also be added to help with congestion! If your kids are so congested they can't taste, they will drink this as a hot beverage and not even care. I can't get mine to drink it plain though, if they can taste it's not something sweet.

Happy chicken soup and broth making!