**As an aside, when plugging your slow cooker in, please please please make sure that the cord is free. It's pretty obvious but I didn't check mine a couple of weeks ago and ended up blowing up the whole unit :( You see the cord had become wedged between the ceramic cooking dish and the heating vessel and consequently overheated the cord, melted the plastic coating and, well, *ZAP* it went. Luckily I had a spare slow cooker as I use them so often, plus my mum also found one that she used in the 80's that she passed along - it's very retro but still does a great job! So please do check!**
What I love most about making chicken soup in the slow cooker is that there is no evaporation like that which occurs when cooking on a stove. All of the liquid that is put in at the start is STILL there at the end, resulting in a most instensely flavoured stock...so good!
To start, place everything you are using for your soup in the slow cooker. Our family saves all of the chicken bones from when we roast a chicken and uses these. If time is short, the bones can even be frozen for use another day. In this case, the 10yo had made honey soy chicken for dinner the night before, so in all of those leftovers went (from about 1.4kg of chicken portions). To the bones, add:
1 onion, cut into wedges (no need to peel)
1-2 carrots, cut into chunks (no need to peel)
2-3 sticks celery, cut into chunks
generous handful of herbs from the garden - thyme, sage, parsely stalks - no need to chop, just put them all in as they are, although the sage may be pounded/bruised if you are feeling like releasing some negative tension.
a couple of bay leaves
Cover the lot with warm water and place the lid on. I usually put it on around 9-10am and it is ready for our dinner at about 6:30-7:00pm. Heat on high for an hour or so to get things cranking then turn it down to low for the remainder of time.
The result? A beautifully rich and tasty stock that is a perfect base for soups, risottos and sauces. To make the chicken noodle soup, strain the liquid through a sieve positioned over a pot, catching the bones and mushy vegetables/herbs. Pick over the bones, removing any of the remaining chicken, breaking it into small pieces (it will be very tender) and set aside. Discard the bones and feed the mushy veggies to the chooks. Heat the stock on the stove until at a simmer. Add a couple of handfuls of your favourite soup pasta - eg. short cut angel hair, stars, alphabets etc and simmer until cooked. Kids love the alphabet pasta, always trying to spell their name in each spoonful! To serve, stir through the shredded chicken, some freshly chopped parsely and a good grind of salt and pepper.
Enjoy with fresh crusty bread. Serves 4-6.