Almost Free Homemade Chicken Soup

Hmmm…almost free homemade chicken soup? It all starts with homemade chicken broth. Before you know it you’ll have an absolutely delicious and healthy chicken soup that warms your tummy and fights off every illness known to mankind (okay, maybe only the flu). Believe me, that’s no old wives tale! So why throw away something as valuable as a chicken carcass.

Sometimes one of the best things about being pennywise is that you make things, like homemade chicken soup, from scratch, and get to enjoy every aspect of it from chopping the vegetables to smelling that delicious aroma wafting through your home. Almost free homemade chicken soup - yup, it's budget meal – but no one will ever know it.

Just as satisfying is knowing you have made use of something that many just throw away – and ended up with something healthy and more satisfying than anything you could buy.

Do you ever roast a chicken or buy a pre-cooked barbeque chicken from your local grocery store? Well, I sure do from time to time. On late nights or when I am just too tired to cook, picking up a barbecued chicken is perfect. I know I’ll get one or even 2 meals from it – plus a big potful of broth that will be the beginning of another lovely soup.

What’s the bonus? I get to clean out my fridge of all those vegetables that have seen better days BUT that are still edible (forget moldy, mushy veggies, they ain’t no good for nothing but the compost heap!).

It’s almost too easy.

Let’s start with...

Almost Free Homemade Chicken Soup Broth


Chicken carcass - cooked or raw
2 – 4 quarts of water
¼ cup vinegar


1.    Put all ingredients into a large soup pot with a tight fitting lid.
2.    Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 4 hours. (2 hours for cooked; 4 hours for raw chicken)
3.    If you can still detect the vinegar at the end of this time, remove lid and boil for a few minutes until odor is gone.

Stage Two:


Chopped vegetables, like onions, celery, carrots and leftover green salad greens, etc.
½ tsp crushed peppercorns, white or black
Paprika, a sprinkling to taste or cayenne for more bite.
1 or 2 bay leaf
4 -6 sprigs fresh Parsley or 3 Tbsp dried


1.    Add vegetables to the broth; reduce heat and boil gently for ½ hour. If possible, let sit in broth while it cools, even overnight if you can keep it chilled.
2.    Strain through a colander and discard all bones and vegetables. Salvage any meat that you can. Set aside. If you are not going to make a chicken soup right away; freeze this.
3.    Pour into mason jars or food storage containers (if cool). Chill. Remove fat.

To store: Label and freeze.

Strain the meat and bones from the broth, carefully removing the bones, skin or any other part you don't want to eat. Watch carefully for small bones. Choking hazard.

When you add the vegetables, they don't really have to be chopped small. Carrots, onions and celery add good flavor.

When cool, put in jars or food storage containers; chill.

When chilled, the fat solidifies on top and is easy to remove with a spoon.

Almost Free Homemade Chicken Soup

Here’s what I do…

To make chicken soup:

1.    Once the broth is well strained and clear, I put it back into a soup pot.  (If it is frozen, I add some water to the pot first to start it thawing. If I want to make a bigger pot of soup, then I might use 2 or 3 quarts of broth. For a small pot, maybe just 1 quart.

2.    I then browse through my refrigerator looking for vegetables. I like to make a pot of soup a day or two before shopping day. Then I can use up vegetables and have a clean fridge before I bring home the fresh stuff. So each pot of soup is different depending on whether I have lots of celery or too many carrots!

Here’s some of what I might add. Pick the ones you love!


Onions, regular yellow onions     I often use dried onions.
Celery – hopefully you have this because it adds a nice flavor
Spinach, fresh or frozen
Frozen peas, carrots, mixed vegetables
Zucchini or other squash
Mushrooms, canned or fresh, whole or sliced
Cooked Rice (could be leftover)
Egg noodles
Cooked  or raw boneless chicken


1.    If you are adding uncooked chicken to the hot broth heat it through until cooked. Please remember: thoroughly clean anything the raw meat has touched, including your hands.
Chop or dice the vegetables.  Add to the broth.
2.    Add cooked rice, egg noodle, or pasta.
Add a pinch of sage if you want.
3.    Cook until vegetables are almost fork tender. 
4.    Add pre-cooked chicken.
5.    Heat through and serve.

Serve with whole grain buns or biscuits, your favorite crackers and cheese, for lunch or dinner.

As you can see, Almost Free Homemade Chicken Soup isn’t really a recipe. It’s an idea. It's for inspiration. As any soup recipe should be.

Before using your broth, strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

I like to make my broth in a pot and my soup in a slow cooker, if I am cooking quite a large batch.

Here I've added fresh onions, fresh celery and dried carrots.

My Almost Free Homemade Chicken Soup is almost ready to serve. You can see I've added some chunky sliced zucchini. And  now the fun I add rice or pasta or just leave it the way it is? Can I resist not throwing in any more vegetables...or will I add mushrooms?

I do like to add a dollop of yoghurt or sour cream, too.

Now it's your turn to make your own Almost Free Homemade Chicken Soup. What will you add? What are the combinations of vegetables you like best?

I stuck to thinly sliced carrots coins, finely diced celery, frozen peas with rice or pasta when my children were young but as they aged, the soups became heartier and thicker…quietly over the years becoming almost a stew.

I hope you enjoy creating your own family favorite and feeling smug because you were, indeed, very pennywise.

Almost Free Homemade Chicken Soup; Return To Homepage

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