Chicken Noodle and Vege Soup (Gluten Free optional)

There's nothing quite like a hot, thick soup to warm you on cold winter days.  This one has become a new favourite.  It's so yummy and it's easy to make.  I put it in the slow cooker and forget it for hours.  It makes a huge amount so it's really good value.  My slow cooker holds 6.5 litres and this soup fills it.  I freeze the leftovers in individual servings.  If you don't have a slow cooker you can cook it in a big stock pot, just check on it more regularly.

It's also a great way to get vegetables into kids - or teenagers as in my case.  They seem to lap them up when served like this with a good crusty bread.  

If you are making this soup GLUTEN FREE you will need to ensure the stock and noodles are gluten free as well as exchanging the pearl barley for red lentils.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken frames**
  • 2 carrots, peeled or scrubbed
  • 2 potatoes, peeled or scrubbed
  • 4 small silverbeet leaves (swiss chard)
  • 2 cups diced pumpkin
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 handful of rocket leaves
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon green herb (or any) stock powder (gluten free if appropriate)
  • 2 noodle nests (gluten free if appropriate)
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 pearl barley (red lentils if gluten free)

Method:

Put the chicken frames into the slow cooker (this can be done from frozen if you have forgotten to thaw them).  Cover with water and cook on high for 2-3 hours (or longer) until the meat is falling off the bones.  Strain out the bones and meat then return the liquid to the slow cooker

Optional:
Pull the meat off the bones carefully ensuring that you remove all the tiny bones.  If you don't have the patience for this you can discard all the bones and meat.  The boys in my family love meat of any kind so putting it in helps.  If you do decide to do this step, squash the meat with a fork.  That way you will see any tiny bones and be able to remove them.  Put the meat back into the liquid.

If you're pedantic about fat, let it cool and skim the fat off the top, but I don't feel it's necessary - honestly there's hardly any.

In the food processor grate all the vegetables except the silverbeet.  I like to thinly slice the silverbeet but you could grate it as well. 

Add the vegetables to the liquid and stir well.  Top up with water if necessary until the vegetables are covered.  Add the noodles and barley or lentils.  Stir again.  Put the lid on and cook on high for 1 hour at least.

Add the soy sauce and stock powder.  Cook for another 2 hours or until ready to serve.  I actually left my last lot on overnight and it was delicious when I got up in the morning.  I then turned it on to the keep warm setting and we ate it for lunch.

**Chicken frames are what's left after the butchers take off all the breast meat, legs and wings.  They still have a surprising amount of meat on them and are great for taste because you get the taste of the bones as well, which is good for you.  If you can't find them at the supermarket, just ask.  They will usually go and get them for you.  If you still can't get them, go to a butcher.  They are cheap so well worth the trouble.  The alternative if you really can't find chicken frames is to buy a roasting fowl which you will find in the frozen chicken section.  These are more expensive but, as they are the whole chicken, will have lots of meat on them.  They are just too old/tough to be sold as standard frozen chickens.