Soup (Chicken) Season!

by Elizabeth Frary October 24, 2018

Along with our Fall Bulk Share and Thanksgiving turkeys, there are some other special seasonal items that we like to highlight this time of year.  One of those treats is the processing of our fall soup chickens.  These soup chickens play a larger role in the sustainability of our farm than it may first appear.  Under a more industrial farming model these birds would simply be composted when their usefulness as egg producers has ended. But at Copicut the laying hens play a dual role of egg producers and later, nutritious and environmentally sustainable food source.  

Because we are a small pasture-raised farm, much of our pasture poultry housing is minimal and meant to protect the birds primarily from spring and summer weather.  Once the summer turns to fall and cold nights become a regular occurrence we have to move the birds into more substantial housing. This means cleaning out the chick brooder and setting up roosting areas and nest boxes for our winter flock of ladies!  At this point, in a commercial farming model, once these birds had finished their usefulness as eggs layers they would simply be tossed out as a waste product. We are delighted to be able to utilize these birds by giving them a second life as a nutritious and healthy meal for the families that have been enjoying their eggs all season. This is another example of the advantages of communicating directly with our customers- we can take time to explain the importance and necessity of including soup chickens in your seasonal eating as it helps to make  our laying hen flock sustainable. 

Over the past 7 years we have worked to educate our customers on the benefits of including soup chickens in their diet. In that same time bone broth has become popular and it's visibility has really helped our cause. The dark and nutritious meat of a soup chicken (traditionally known as a stewing hen) can make a delicious rich broth in as little as 4 hours. There are also some wonderful gourmet recipes that specifically call for these flavorful bird (Coq Au Vin being one of our favorites).

With the blustery weather that is predicted for this weekend, it might be the perfect time to put a pot of stock on the stove top.  If you don't have a favorite stock recipe to rely on, please check out our basic broth recipe below. Happy cooking! 

Soup Chicken Broth Recipe

This is a great recipe to have kids help with as it is simple and flexible but yields a wonderfully delicious kitchen staple. Use whatever veggies and seasonings you have on hand and simmer for as long as is convenient for you. You can use either the stove top or a crock pot. 

  • 1 soup chicken
  • 12-15 cups of water (make sure chicken is covered)
  • I like to add an acid to help leach the flavor and vitamins from the meat. Lemon juice, white wine or apple cider vinegar work great.
  • Assortment of vegetables (carrot, onion, celery)
  • Dried seasonings/ fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, bay leaf)
  • Simmer for a minimum of 3 hours (up to 24 hours)
  • Once cooled, strain and discard vegetables and herbs.
  • Pick chicken from bone and reserve (if using)

Notes: Meat simmered for 8 hour or less will result in dark, flavorful meat perfect for soups and stews. With long simmering stocks most of the meat's flavor has been transferred into stock so it’s best to use the meat in a meal with rich seasoning such as chicken enchiladas. 



Elizabeth Frary
Elizabeth Frary

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