Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Coop to Soup

This weekend was chicken soup weekend at the farm. Forty laying hens should've kept laying eggs regularly because the ones that don't? Off with their heads. That's a fact of life and food down home on the farm. When we got the opportunity to attain these birds, we called in the troops. Hanna and Craig (daughter and son-in-law) and my niece Barbara and her husband Blair came for the day. (I got to be B&B's baby Micah's babysitter!)

Here Blair and Craig admire the haul of birds:

Here Jim shows Blair where to chop:

Then the hen is immersed in not-quite-boiling water for a minute or so, which makes the feathers much easier to pluck:

Here a bird is losing her feathers (and then her guts, which apparently no one took a picture of):

From there the birds are rinsed out and then up to six at a time hit the big canner for cooking down into soup:

I brought the batch to a boil, then turned the element down low and left it overnight, about 14 hours. Once the birds were cool enough to handle, the tedious task of separating out meat from bones took place:

Then the meat and broth went back in the pot with onions, garlic, and spices and cooked for awhile longer before I began to put it in jars to pressure can it. Here's a photo of the first pot's worth of results:

This is the base for old-fashioned chicken noodle soup--meaning that just heating and adding noodles is a meal in itself. Or, of course, the cook can add vegetables, rice, or whatever else is desired on that day. There's nothing like the taste of home-made chicken noodle soup, but as you can see, it's a big job to get there!

If you're looking for recipe details, they're here.


  1. You're not just whistling Dixie on the big job. It's a big enough job to use chicken breasts from the store.

  2. It was a bigger job for the four kids than for me, this time around. I got to babysit, can soup, and make meals. And keep the dog and the baby separated...