Here is the recipe for our family’s favorite, homegrown and nourishing chicken soup with spaetzle noodles. We’ve been eating lots of soup the last couple months as illness made its way through the family and no one ever tires of it, it’s so delicious.
I know that there are many recipes out there for chicken soup with a great number of variations, and most will be less time consuming. But I think that the special ingredient in this recipe is the time involved. The fact is that it takes time to leach all of that healing goodness from the bones of the chicken. I’m not in a rush. I’ve nothing more pressing to do than to make sure that my family is well fed.
This soup is essentially prepared in three steps- first is to build the flavor and nutrition of the stock. The acid is added to help leach as much from the bones as possible. The feet and roasted bones, while optional, add a depth of flavor and texture to the broth that is simply unparalleled. We’ve run out of feet for the year already and I can absolutely tell the difference. I’m actually looking forward to culling the old hens from the flock more for their feet than for the savings on the feed bill.
Once the stock is prepared, the second step is to cook the vegetables. In my old recipe (in the days before extra bones and feet) I would add them at the beginning of the recipe and their texture left a lot to be desired. By cooking them until just tender during the last hour or two they retain both taste and texture.
- 1 whole chicken
- 4-8 chicken feet, optional
- roasted chicken bones, optional
- 1 onion, halved, peeled
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
- juice of half a lemon or 2 T. apple cider vinegar or whey
- generous palmful of sea salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1½ pounds carrots, peeled, chopped
- 4 small parsnips, peeled, chopped
- 5-6 celery stalks, chopped including leaves
- ½ c. fresh parsley, chopped
- Spaetzle Noodles:
- 1½ c. flour of choice
- 2 eggs
- 1 t. salt
- In a large stockpot place the chicken, feet, bones, onion, garlic, acid, and seasoning.
- Fill the pot to the brim with water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a low temperature. Continue to simmer on low for several hours until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
- Strain the stock from the pot through a colander (into another large stockpot or I use a large bread bowl).
- Set the colander of chicken aside and return the strained stock to the pot.
- Add the prepared vegetables and parsley to the stock and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, maybe 1½-2 hours.
- Meanwhile pick the chicken meat from the bones and reserve it, discarding the remainder of the strained ingredients and adding the chicken back into the soup to warm while the noodles are cooking.
- To prepare the noodles, simply mix together the flour, eggs, and salt until a very stiff dough forms. Be sure to add enough flour that the dough will not stick to your fingers while picking the noodles. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Pick off small pea-sized noodles until you have picked through all of the dough.
- Keep the flour handy, you may have to dust your fingers to keep the noodles from sticking a bit. Drop the noodles into the pot of boiling water and boil for about 8 minutes after adding the last noodle.
- Drain the water.
- Either add to the soup or serve individually in a bowl and top with the soup.