I was craving chicken soup earlier this week, so on Sunday night before bed, I filled my slow cooker with everything I needed to make it while I slept. I ended up with a bowl for myself, and a freezer full of soup base that will come in handy for the inevitable winter sick days ahead. It couldn’t be easier.
Just line the bottom of the slow cooker with diced onion, roughly chopped celery, and carrots (in whatever size and shape you like them in your chicken soup). On top of that, place a whole chicken – I season mine with salt, pepper, herbes de Provence, and lots of Hungarian paprika for heat, and fill the cavity with whole, peeled garlic cloves. But just salt and pepper are fine too. Next, pour chicken stock into the crock until the vegetables are just submerged. Then cover, set it on low, and go to bed.
In the morning, let the contents of your slow cooker cool, then refrigerate at least a few hours. Remove any thick fat that may have risen to the surface. Tear the meat off the carcass (I reserve dark meat for meals and only use white meat for soup, which I tend to think is its only good use). Shred the meat for the soup and mix back in with the vegetables and the cooking liquid, which will be slightly congealed.
Spoon this base into quart-sized freezer bags for individual servings, gallon-sized for larger group servings. Flatten and push as much air out of the bags before sealing completely. This will save you freezer space, because you can stack the bags.
When you’re craving chicken soup, you can either thaw a bag in the fridge overnight or take it straight from freezer to stove top. In a soup pot, add boiling water to the base and warm through until piping hot. You can add cooked star pasta, rice, barley, or any sort of grain that you might be into at this point. Season to taste.