How to make the Secret Soup:
Read through the instructions 1 or 2 times before making the soup, so you are familiar with the process before you start.
Step 1: Clean and prepare the chicken:
Remove the inside packet that contains the organs. You may use them for something else or discard. Liberally salt the inside and outside of the chicken. Submerge the salted chicken in a large glass bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly, then pat dry with a paper towel. I prefer to use a glass bowl because it’s easy to sanitize and reuse. I worry that plastic’s tendency to become porous with use, will harbor bacteria over time.
Step 2: Prepare the vegetables: (celery, carrots, onion, dill, plum/Roma tomatoes)
Celery: Remove all dead leaves, rotten sections and cut off at least an inch of the tough bottom portion. Remove each “rib” and wash repeatedly until all sand and debris are gone. Trim off the bottoms of each rib and discard.
You will need 3-4 ribs plus the “hearts” of the celery (the innermost part of the celery plant, that is pale green or yellow and has flowery/leafy ends. This part is the most tender. Take 2 from the outside layer (the darkest green) and 3 from the middle layer (medium green). Shred the flowery/leafy part and rough chop the ribs. Until all the celery is in small pieces. (You may want to chop up the rest of the celery to make chicken salad with the leftover chicken.)
Carrots: Wash and scrub carrots with a mushroom brush, to remove sand and debris. Be sure to trim the tops off where dirt and bugs can hide. You can cut the carrots into any size and shape you want but be sure not to make all the pieces too small because they may melt away during the simmering process. I prefer ¼ -1/2 inch coins or odd shaped chunks. It depends on how much time I have to prepare the soup.
Yellow onion: Remove tough outer layer and skin. Run onion under cold water for 30 seconds before cutting, it reduces eye tearing while cutting the onion. Cut onion in half from root to tip into long slivers. Chop the long slivers horizontally until the entire onion is chopped into small pieces.
Tomatoes: Use 2-4 Roma or plum tomatoes. Take off any leaves or stems. You will want to remove the skin by flash boiling them. Fill a saucepan ¾ to top, do not add salt. Bring to a boil. Gently drop tomatoes into boiling water and let boil until skins break open, about 30-60 seconds. Immediately remove and plunge into ice bath. Let sit in ice bath for 30 seconds, remove tomatoes one at a time and remove the skins. They should slip right off the tomato. In a small bowl with high sides, take one of the tomatoes and poke your finger into the flesh, squeeze out the seeds and juice. Remove the tough top part where the stem was connected. You are going to want to keep the fleshy part of the tomato minus the seeds and stem attachment for use in the soup.
Fresh Dill: Snip off 2-4 tbsps of fresh dill with either a kitchen scissor that is used only for cooking or a very sharp paring knife.
Step 3: Prepare the veggie base:
Put celery, carrot, onion, 1 tablespoon of olive oil , a ¼ tsp of salt and a pinch of black pepper into a 4 quart stock pot. Give the vegetables a stir to coat them with olive oil and turn heat to medium. Sauté the vegetables until they soften and the onion becomes translucent. Approximately 10 minutes. Do not let the vegetables become browned.
Step 4: Put chicken on top of sautéed vegetables with legs sticking up. Pour in enough filtered or spring water to cover the body of the chicken, but leave at least an inch from the top of the pot or else it will bubble over during the cooking process.
Step 5: Add herbal sachet and the fresh dill. I will often put the herbal sachet inside the cavity of the chicken so it doesn’t get ripped during the cooking process or when you are straining the stock. If the herbal sachet opens during cooking, be sure the use a fine sieve strainer or cheese cloth to separate the stock. Do not eat the herbs from the sachet.
Step 6: Slightly displace the cover of the stock pot. This leaves room for steam to escape and avoid a boil over.
Step 7: Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 4 hours. Do not stir stock. Your soup is done when you use a fork to lift the chicken from the stock and it falls apart with ease
Step 8: Separating the stock: Skim of the oily foam “scum” that develops as part of the cooking process.
Step 9: Remove chicken meat. Discard skin, bones and herbal sachet.
Note: ******The herbal sachet should stay intact during the cooking process. If, for some reason, it opens up, be sure to use a fine sieve or cheese cloth to remove all the herbs from the stock. Do not eat the herbs.
Step 11: Rich golden stock, ready to enjoy.
Step 12: You can remove the fat after the stock has been chilled. The fat will be the top most layer and will be easily removed when it has been allowed to chill.
Step 13: Enjoy one bowl per day.