I realize that it’s the middle of summer. But in my own way, I’m preparing for fall. Last weekend, my mom and I canned chicken soup, which has to be one of the most comforting cold weather foods. It wasn’t difficult and we were rewarded with seven quarts of tasty – and healthy – chicken soup.
I like knowing what’s in my food. That usually means that I make it myself using unprocessed ingredients. Plus, food made from scratch just tastes better. That’s certainly the case with this recipe. Homemade chicken soup tastes almost nothing like the canned variety. I don’t go so far as to make my own broth, but I do use an organic, fat-free version. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could certainly make your own broth.
Here’s the process for canning chicken soup:
Roast one or two chickens or a combination of one whole chicken and several chicken breasts. You’ll want to have at least 3-4 cups of chicken meat. Once the chicken has cooked and is cool enough to handle, remove the meat, discarding the skin and bones. Dice into large chunks.
Cut at least four cups of carrots, three cups of celery and two cups of onions. I left the vegetables on the larger size to ensure that they didn’t get too soft during the canning process. You’ll need a total of eight quarts of chicken broth. If you want to add extra flavor, you can add six cubes of chicken bouillon.
Add the diced meat, vegetables, broth and bouillon (if using) to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir well. Reduce the heat and simmer on the stovetop for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, prepare your jars, lids and rings. You’ll want the jars to be warm before you transfer the soup into them. My mom and I do this by placing the clean jars into a toaster oven set to “warm.” Make sure the rings and lids are also sterilized; you can do this by placing them in a warm water bath on top of the stove.
After the soup has simmered on the stovetop for 30 minutes, transfer it into the jars, making sure that you have almost equal amounts of meat and vegetables in each. Top with the broth. Add the lids and rings and transfer the jars to a pressure canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure for at least one hour. The yield for this recipe is seven quarts. If you’re lucky, you’ll also have enough left over for lunch. 🙂