1, 4 ½ – 5 pound fresh chicken (or one chicken carcass with meat left on the bone)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 bunch celery, chopped into ¾ pieces (about 4-5 cups)
2 quarts chicken stock
3 large soft chicken bouillon cubes
1, 2 pound bag carrots, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1-2 cans cannellini beans, drained
2-3 cups baby kale or spinach
1 ½ cups fresh tortellini
2 cups egg noodles, cooked
½ cup raw barley
¾ cup raw rice
If you are starting with a fresh whole chicken (or chicken parts), season the chicken very liberally with the salt and pepper. It may seem like a lot, but it will cook into the broth. Heat the olive oil, in a 12-14-quart Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high heat. Sear seasoned chicken on all sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. (If you are using a chicken carcass, this step is not needed. Simply put that puppy into your pot! You may want cook a couple of extra chicken breasts, separately depending how much meat is left on the carcass so you have enough meat for the soup).
Add the onions, celery, and stock to the pot. Add enough water to cover the chicken and bouillon cubes. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a low boil/simmer and let cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Using a large spoon, periodically skim the fat and foam off the top of the stock and discard, so the soup is not greasy.
Remove the chicken (which will most likely be falling apart) to a large bowl and let cool.
Add the carrots to the pot and keep at a low boil. (Note – if you are adding rice or barley, they should be added at the same time as the carrots). Once carrots are tender the chicken should be cool enough to shred with your hands. Add shredded chicken to the soup along with any of the other “optional” items and cook for 10 minutes more. Stir in parsley just before serving.