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By Charity Helstrom
Feeding my family as close to all natural as possible has over the years become one of my main priorities. However, we all have those days when your too exhausted to even think of what to make or just feeling under the weather. In those times I always wish I had something quick and easy, canned soup would be perfect.
Most store bought canned soup doesn't neccessarily fit my description of all natural so on the days when I have ambition, this is what I do. I make a pot of soup big enough to feed an army. Well at least a small army! After we've eaten, I take the remainder and into the pressure canner it goes. The first time doing it I had to make sure I had ALOT of ambition to get it done. After a few times of canning and reaping the rewards of pulling a jar out of the pantry on those lazy days, my ambition doesn't have to be near as high anymore. I also realized that it wasn't all that hard to do and actually kind of fun.
I have always been against thawing out meat the day before. Well...maybe not against, usually I get sidetracked and forget! No worry, I just take a whole frozen chicken (Helstrom Farms Pasture Raised of course!)and put it in a 22 quart pot, fill with water about 3/4 of the way, then add seasonings. This is where I kind of just wing it. I always add tumeric, celery salt, ACV, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper and a couple bay leaves. You can change it up to fit your tastes. Sage and thyme are good additions as well, my family just prefers it without. Stir and let it simmer all morning. Your home will start to smell wonderful which is always a great reminder for me to do a little taste test to see if I need more seasoning.
While your chicken is simmering is time to get all your wonderful vegetables cut up and ready to go. I like to add tons of carrots, celery, potatoes, peas, corn, green beans and onion. This is also a good way to use up some garden vegetables that you have an abundance of. The more vegetables the better in my opinion.
After about 5 hours of simmering, remove the chicken and let it cool in a bowl until you can handle it. Gently remove the chicken from the bone, it will basically fall off, then put the meat back into pot. This is a great time to take your chicken bones and put them in a crock pot to start some bone broth.
Now add vegetables to the pot and heat back to simmer for about an hour or until the vegetables are tender.
After enjoying your dinner get the canner ready for the soup. Once my army of 8 has finished dinner, the remaining soup will usually fill the canner with seven quart jars. You'll have to follow your appliances instructions on how to safely can soup for per your alititude. Here in Northern Minnesota it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. A wonderful way to finish the evening is to enjoy evey homestead canner's music, the popping of sealed lids!