Kitchen Dance: Chicken Soup with Bacon, Lime and Cilantro

I made chicken soup because I want the season to change. I am ready for fall. I want to relish the warm late afternoon walks and later see my breath in the chilly evening air. I am looking forward to collecting, identifying, and preserving leaves with beeswax. I can't wait to visit an apple orchard and go hiking at a state park. So, yes I am ready for soup weather. And even though lately the temperature has been in the eighties, I've decided to begin creating soup kitchen dances. For our family, it is the easiest meal to freeze. We use quart and pint-sized mason jars, filled 3/4 of the way.

We currently purchase all of our meat from Goose the Market. They are supplied by local farms whose livestock are produced sustainably. I roast a chicken every two weeks, then make stock with the carcass. Here is the recipe for the kitchen dance I came up with last night.

Chicken Soup with Bacon, Lime and Cilantro
1 whole chicken (preferrably pasture-raised)
5 strips of uncooked bacon, diced (preferably pasture-raised)
1-2 qt filtered or spring water
1 yellow onion, chopped
4-6 carrots, chopped or coined
3 chilaca peppers, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 lime, squeezed
A handful of cilantro, chopped
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Roast chicken in crockpot on low for 6-8 hours depending on the size of the bird. Usually, I will stuff the bird with garlic, butter, and cilantro. Other times I will make a rub and massage the bird. This time I was in a hurry, so I just tossed it in naked. It came out tender, juicy and flavorful. There is such an incredible difference in pasture-raised meat.

2. Once the chicken was ready, the soup took about an hour to come together. I sauteed the onion and bacon until the onion began to caramelize. About 15 minutes at a high temperature. 

3. Next, I added the carrot coins and chopped celery and sauteed that for another 15 minutes. I added the chilaca peppers and garlic. I've been timid with the peppers we grew this year and haven't yet found a use for all of them. The chilacas are good in omelettes, but I liked them better in this soup. 

4. I drained most of the drippings from the roasted chicken into the soup pot and let the soup simmer while I shredded the whole chicken and simultaneously began bone broth in the cockpot. I also added 1-2 quarts of water. (I never measure, so I'm not sure how much I put in. I definitely could have added more water, because the soup was extremely rich and thick. But we like it that way!)

5. After adding the shredded chicked, I tossed in the lime, cilantro, sea salt and pepper and let the flavors marry for about 30-40 minutes. A dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream would have been my first choice to garnish the soup. I didn't have either, so we used a bit of a 7 year cheddar, shredded. It was perfect.

Do you have a twist on the traditional chicken soup? I'd love to hear your recipe!

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