I made this soup entirely from scratch. Yup, I made the stock, too!
After reading Joel Salatin's "Folks, This Ain't Normal," I was inspired to cook with a whole chicken.
A few nights ago, my husband roasted a bird, stuffed with an apple, covered in olive oil and rosemary (in a 400 degree oven for about an hour). We had the chicken for dinner with vegetable side dishes, including Winter Fruit and Cabbage Side Salad. That night, I picked through the leftovers, separating the meat from the bones, skin, and sinew. I put the meat in one bag and the bones, etc. (including the apple!) in another.
Tonight I made the chicken stock. I put the remains of the chicken (including the apple, but not the meat) in a stock pot along with carrots, celery, onion, garlic, kale, Brussels sprouts, and parsley.
[It was pretty much a sampling of all the fresh veggies I had in my 'fridge that I had no other immediate plans to use. You could use whatever veggies and herbs you have on hand.] Then I covered the ingredients with water and brought them to a boil. From there, I turned it down to a simmer and allowed it to cook for three hours.
During that three hours, I became ADDICTED to the smell wafting from the pot. I actually had to tell myself, "just clear out the dishes in the dishwasher and then you can go take another whiff." Which turned into, "okay, a whiff after I finish the top rack...".
When the three hours were up, I removed the big "stuff" with a spoon, and then strained the remainder over a bowl. I wasn't picky about the very small bits of chicken and veggies that remained; if you are, you could strain through a cheesecloth. It seems like such a waste to throw out the veggies used to make a stock, but it's really not. They've given up their flavor to the stock and would only add unpleasant texture if you kept them. Think of them like tea leaves. :-)
I tasted the stock and it was amazing with a sprinkle of salt and pepper! I couldn't wait to make it into a tasty soup.
I put the stock back into the stock pot, and added 5 chopped parsnips, 2 peeled and chopped apples, 1 chopped onion, and a 1/2 bunch of chopped celery.
I also added the leftover chicken meat. Then I put about a teaspoon of garam masala in a tea ball and dropped it in. The tea ball was pretty much superfluous, because the spice got out anyway!
I allowed it to cook for half an hour, until the vegetables were tender.
I served the soup with very light sprinkles of salt, pepper, and more garam masala. It does need just a touch of salt to make it taste "like a soup."
The result was a fragrant, spicy / sweet soup that was unexpectedly delicious (I had high hopes for this soup, but not this high!). If you have not had parsnips in soup before, you absolutely must try this recipe. The parsnips are so sweet! Sweeter than the apples! Who needs sugar?!
And my experiment with the whole chicken was a definite success. The soup made enough food to feed an army, so for a $13 (organic, free-range) chicken, I got countless meals. That never happens with a package of boneless, skinless breasts!