My son loves soup. If I let him, he would have soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. His favorite is Chicken Soup with rice or noodles. We've been purchasing the good stuff, Healthy Choice or Progresso low sodium for at best $0.75 per can. He can eat at least 1/2 a can and some days the whole thing.
Whole chickens were on sale at Albertson's for $0.69/lb so we purchased 4 chickens for about $14.00. We attempted our first chicken soup with homemade stock. It turned out really well, better then I thought it would. The soup after it was canned was much better then it was the day before which I thought was handy :)
The herbs are variable and completely up to your specific taste preferences. I made more stock last night from the left over carcass from dinner (it takes about 3 hours) and used Thyme, Parsley, and Oregano (the herbs used to season dinner).
Chicken Stock Recipe
1 Whole Chicken, cut into pieces (I obviously left it whole and it worked just fine. You can also use a carcass here instead of the whole chicken if that's all you have. OR you can use just legs and thighs, whatever you have on hand.)
4 Quarts Water (you may need to add more throughout cooking, next time I will start with 5 quarts)
2 Stalks Celery, quartered
2 Medium Onions, quartered
2 Bay Leaves
1 T Salt (optional, you can add it at the end if you want for seasoning sake or just leave it out)
Optional Herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano. You can use fresh or dried but fresh has a more substantial flavor.
Combine chicken and water in a large sauce pot or stock pot. Bring to a boil and boil for about 30 minutes to remove any impurities. Skim off the foam that has formed. Add remaining ingredients. If you are using fresh herbs be sure to tie it up in some cheesecloth before putting it in the water. Return to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours or until the chicken is tender. Remove from heat and skim off any additional foam. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place the colander over a large bowl. Pour stock through colander and let the chicken cool. If you wish, allow stock to cool until the fat solidifies and then return to a boil in a large sauce pot. From here you can can the stock as is or you can make it into soup.
For Canning: ladle hot stock into jars leaving 1 inch head space. Adjust lids and process in a pressure canner: pints for 20 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (15 pounds if you live above 1,000 ft altitude) and 25 minutes for quarts.
For Soup: Combine 4 quarts chicken stock, about 2-3 cups celery (depending on how much you want), 2-3 cups sliced carrots, 1-2 cups chopped onion, salt and pepper to taste in a large stock pot or sauce pot. Brig mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender. Adjust seasonings as desired, you can add bouillon as well if you want to. Serve from here or can as follows: pints 1 hour and 15 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (15 pounds if you live above 1,000 ft altitude).