Almost every culture has their own version of chicken soup, and it is universally revered for its ability to make things better. It is said to cure a cold and make a house a home. This American version has nourished my family through sickness and health, good times and bad. If you are going to spend two days making soup stock then you might as well make enough for your friends, family and to stock up the freezer.
3 whole chickens, throw them in a large pot whole or cut up. If you can get whole chickens with feet that would make an even tastier stock.
Trim the tops and bottoms of 3 stalks of celery Add these to the stock pot and keep the nice middle pieces for the final soup, and some for snacking.
3 large yellow onions
Put the ends, skins and ugly pieces in the stock. If you want your soup to be light in color, do not use the skins of the onions. The skins will turn the stock dark and brownish. Reserve some of the nice middle pieces for the final soup.
Add the carrot tops and peels from two bags of carrots (about 2 pounds)
and a handful of parsley and a couple bay leaves. Put all this in a large pot and cover with water. Let it simmer as low as possible on the stove for at least two hours.
Strain the stock through a colander. Strain it again through cheesecloth into a clean container and refrigerate. When the stock cools off, skim the fat off the top. At this time, you can freeze some or all of the stock.
Pull all the chicken meat from the bones, dice meat and refrigerate. Discard the bones and vegetables peels. We will add the chicken back just before serving so it doesn’t get stringy and fall apart.
When you are ready for soup, return the pot of the clean stock to the fire and add nicely chopped carrots, celery and onions. Add two or three chopped tomatoes or a small can of diced tomatoes with the juice. Simmer until vegetables are tender. A few minutes before serving, add the diced chicken. Add salt to taste. Simmer very gently until chicken is hot and serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese on the side. This is a big pot of soup, so next time you reheat a bowl of the soup add a little cooked rice and a squeeze of lime, or some left over cooked noodles or pasta.