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Every once in a while I am cornered by a younger mom who wants to pick my brain about how I afford all these children and how in the world do I feed them all? Besides the true but trite-sounding reply to trust in God, I tell her that there are ways to feed our children nutritiously and deliciously using leftovers! Make soup!

One of the secrets to a tasty and delicious homemade soup or stew is learning to use bones to make a good bone broth. It isn’t hard to do this but you do have to think ahead to simmer those bones many hours. The resulting healing broth is worth it! Even if you don’t want to bother with bone broth, it isn’t hard to learn to make soup. So, here I go with another repost!

The weather is getting cooler and the days are shorter. It’s time to make soup!

As a teen, I remember watching with wonder as my mother took some slightly wilted vegetables, a big bone with little pieces of meat clinging to its sides and some spices. After this unappetizing combination simmered on the stove all day it miraculously turned into a delicious, nutritious soup.

You, too, can make miracles happen and feed your family a highly nutritious soup for pennies! It isn’t hard and the varieties of flavors are endless. It’s fun and it will make your house smell like love :-)!

1. Make soup 1 to 2 days in advance to let flavors blend.
2. Reserve the vegetable cooking water from other meals and use in place of plain water to improve soup flavor.
3. If soup tastes thin or weak, add healthy store-bought broth as a strengthener.
4. If soup is too salty, add half a peeled raw potato and simmer about 15 minutes to absorb excess salt and then remove potato.
5. Add herbs at the end to preserve the most flavor.

6. As a general rule, 1 quart soup equals 6 first-course servings or 3 to 4 main course servings.
7. Use a soup tureen when serving soup as a main course to lend elegance to the table and keep soup hot for seconds.

Chicken Soup

Cook Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (remember, this doesn’t mean you are slaving away in the kitchen all this time. Once you get the hang of it you can throw everything into the pot in about 15 minutes…especially if you aren’t cutting up a lot of meat! Soup really is easy and fast)

* 2 Tablespoons real salted butter
* 2 medium onions, chopped
* 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
* 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
* 1 (6- to 7-pound) chicken
* 2 quarts chicken broth (make your own by simmering bones ahead of time-see link above) or canned low-sodium broth
* 1 quart cold water, or as needed
* 4 sprigs of fresh parsley
* 3 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1 bay leaf
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 cups egg noodles or rice
* Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes.

Cut the chicken into 8 pieces. Break the bones of the chicken and add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the broth if you want to make release the nutritious marrow from the bones into the soup-this is best to do only with organic chickens. If there are any pads of yellow fat in the tail area, do not remove them-fat adds flavor to soup.

Add the chicken to the pot and pour in the broth. Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the surface. Add the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf.

Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is very tender, about 2 hours.

Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove and throw away the parsley and thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Discard the chicken skin and bones and cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Add the noodles or rice and cook until done, about 10 minutes. Stir the meat back into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot (if you want to degrease the soup-chill it and skim the solidified grease off the top).

Serve with a simple homemade quick bread such as cornbread and you will have a feast fit for a king. Enjoy!

Remember that soup recipes never have to be followed exactly. Soup making is an art and you can quickly learn to use what you have on hand and create your own combinations of veggies, meat and grains. Have fun and remember that throughout history women have loved and served others by making delicious homemade soup!

What is your favorite soup?