Updated May 2017.
One batch of chicken can last our family for two to four meals, depending on the week. (At the time of writing, we were a family of two adults and two small children.) The best option is to purchase whole pastured chickens from a local farmer – it’s fresh, affordable, healthy, and soooo tasty.
Since we don’t have the freezer full of chicken yet, I’ve been purchasing chicken legs and quarters from Whole Foods Market once a week. The chicken is vegetarian raised, free range, antibiotic free, and not injected with any soy-based broth (as all chickens are at your regular supermarket). The leg packs are very affordable and are often on sale, and make good stock (due to the knuckle joints in the leg bones).
-Make Chicken Rice Soup
Day One-Day Two:
-Use leftover chicken and rich stock for cooking meals (sandwiches, enchiladas, stir fries, casseroles, etc.)
- 1 whole chicken or pack of chicken parts with bone
- 1 cup brown rice
- *whatever veggies you have around*
- *whatever herbs you have around*
- purified water (if available)
- Put chicken into a large slow cooker/crockpot. Cover with purified water to within 1-2 inches of top. Cook 2-3 hours on HIGH.
- Remove chicken and put in colander set over glass bowl. Allow to drain and cool just enough to handle.
- Have three bowls available: one for meat, one for bones/ligaments/knuckles/organs, one for fat. Discard fat. (Considering composting or feeding it to animals.)
- *OPTIONAL* (for richer stock): Put all bones/ligaments/knuckles/organs back into stock for three more hours on HIGH. Strain out bones, etc. back into clean bowl; reserve for further stock making.
- Chop several cups of meat into small pieces (as much as desired) and store in fridge until soup is ready. Refrigerate or freeze extra meat for other dishes.
- Add the brown rice, onions, garlic, carrots (chopped), whatever sturdy veggies you have into stock. Cook on HIGH for one hour, but check occasionally in case the rice is done sooner.
- When rice is almost done, add your chopped chicken and chopped leafy/delicate veggies, such as kale, spinach, fresh herbs, etc. Cook on HIGH for 15 minutes or until rice is done.
- Salt/pepper to taste.
- If everything is chopped finely, kids will eat things they normally won't touch (even "strange" vegetables, or liver/other organ meats).
- This recipe is so flexible. As long as you have chicken and rice, you can make it with whatever you have around. I've made it with kale, chard, spinach, corn, cabbage...you can even replace the rice with potatoes, if you like. Sweet potatoes give an excellent flavor. Just be sure to add leafy greens toward the end of cooking to avoid killing the good nutrients and making mushy greens. Chop (or even mince) greens finely and they only require a quick cook time.
- This soup tastes fantastic with fresh parsley, thyme, and a dash of cayenne pepper. I also use dried herbs often. Try whatever herbs you have around.
- One recent variation, pioneered by my daughter Maya, is to add freshly toasted sesame seeds as a garnish. Wow! The flavor was totally different and very tasty.
BONUS: How to Make Stock in a Slow Cooker
Use your leftover bones/knuckles/organs from making soup. Throw it all into a large slow cooker and cover with purified water to within 1-2 inches of top. If you wish, add large chunks of carrots, onions, and celery for flavor. (I often skip this step and save the veggies for whatever I’m using the stock to cook later.) Simmer on HIGH for 24 hours. Strain out everything, and let cool.
Store in fridge; skim any fat from top. Once cool, it will be thick, like Jell-o. Once heated, it returns to a liquid. This contains lots of gelatin and minerals–great for your health! If you have no immediate use for it, freeze it in cup-size portions. I use it to cook rice for the rest of the week, adding vital nutrients to my kids’ diet.