- one whole chicken (My local Walmart always has the organic whole chickens on sale for less than $5)
- bay leaves
- salt & pepper
- whole black peppercorns
- * stock pot
Cover the chicken and vegetables with water and place on stove. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for a couple hours. Check on it regularly - and when you see the foam settling on the top of the water, take a spoon and skim it out. If you can't get it all, that's ok - just get as much out as possible. When I simmer mine, I place the lid on the pot but leave a little crack or opening. When you check on it, use a pair of tongs to pull on the chicken - if you do so and it starts to fall apart easily - your chicken is ready to come out.
Once the chicken falls off the bones easily, you need to remove it from the pot. I have a colander on top of a bowl all ready for this. Then I carefully use two pairs of tongs or whatever I need to grab the chicken pieces out of the stock pot to set into the bowl. I get all the pieces out and let it cool in the bowl. Once cooled enough to touch it, I will pull all the chicken off of the bones and put it into a new clean bowl.
Once all the chicken is separated from the bones, I discard any fatty pieces. At this time, your broth could be done. You don't need to cook this for as many hours as I do, but I think it adds more flavor and extracts more from the chicken bones this way. So, after I remove the chicken, I usually use a colander to also remove all the vegetables at this time. I remove them to prevent them from turning into complete mush - and the flavor from the vegetables has already infused the broth fully. So at this point, all I have left is the broth and I then put the bones back into it. Like I said, this is optional - as the broth could be done now after only two to three hours. But, if I have the time, I throw the bones back in and let it simmer for another hour or two. If you want your broth to be really rich in flavor, you don't need to water it down. But if a lot of water has evaporated and you want to add a little more and you can see how thick the soup is, feel free to do so. I usually add more water.
Leave it simmering as long as you like. Then, use a colander again to get rid of the bones. Let your broth cool down. It is recommended to transfer it into the fridge so that the fat can rise to the top and be skimmed off. Once ready to use the broth, you'll likely want to add additional salt.
The broth is delicious and rich in flavor and nutrients! I usually pour portions of mine into 1-cup containers which will be stored in the freezer. I also make chicken and dumpling soup with the broth and chicken - my son loves it!