We're starting to get into true Fall weather here in the Pacific Northwest. That also means cold season. It's soup weather all over and my kids love soups thankfully. I bookmarked this recipe from nourished kitchen and did not make all that many changes to it. Mostly I just used what was on hand and available. For instance, the grocery store was running a special on regular whole chickens so they did not have any free range or organic on hand. We actually cannot use the regular chickens because the residue of their feed in the meat (purely corn and soy and guaranteed GMO) can actually cause a stacked allergy reaction in my daughter. So I was left with the option of packages of organic drumsticks and thighs. That worked perfectly as well as being cheaper. To be honest, maybe better; I have made plain whole chickens in the crock pot for significantly less time and still found that the breast meat tended to get a touch overdone. This time I got perfectly done meat and a broth that actually gelled! Hooray! Talk about a nourishing soup. And I am totally sold on the leeks in the soup from now on, I LOVED what it added in flavor. We all enjoyed this soup the first night and my four year old and I enjoyed the leftovers for the next two days. It reheats beautifully. (I just have a 3Qt slow cooker, so it was quite full on this recipe, a larger one would be easier, but I did slightly scale down to fit.) Start this before bed and it will be ready to finish up in the morning and simmer all day for dinner. And remember to wash your leeks well to avoid grit. ☺
Slow Cooker Chicken Soup
Makes about 1 gallon soup (if your cooker will hold that much)
1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs) or one package each drumsticks and thighs - mine were about 2.5 pounds together (6 drums and 4 thighs)
fresh ground pepper
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thin (I used one large leek)
2 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled and chopped
6 carrots, scraped and sliced into rounds ¼" thick (I only had three on hand, would have been good with a couple more)
6 celery ribs, sliced ¼" thick
1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used 3 or 4 small organic russets)
¼ cup fresh minced parsley (I used the equivalent of freeze dried)
extra seasoning like lemon pepper and/or tabasco
Rinse chicken or chicken parts and place in slow cooker, seasoning well with sea salt and pepper all over or between layers. Add leeks and bay leaves to pot and cover all with water. Cook on low heat for about 12 hours. Depending on who will be eating the soup, at this point you may want to remove the chicken and pick out the meat. Since I have little kids, this is what I did. (I had so much meat, I decided to save half for another batch of soup.) You can save the skin and bones for a separate batch of stock if desired. Now add the chopped onion, carrots, celery and potatoes to the pot, top up with water if needed and continue cooking on low for an additional six to eight hours. Adjust seasoning and stir in parsley before serving. I love a few dashes of tabasco in my soups because the vinegar brightens up the flavors. I like lemon pepper for the same reason. Lemon brightens flavors. Season to your own taste. This was a great soup!
And just look at that beautiful gel, I can't even get my stock to do that!