For this recipe, just throw a whole chicken in the slow cooker with dried thyme and vegetables. Then let it simmer away until the chicken falls apart in the rich, chicken-y broth. Take the chicken out, shred the meat, and add it back to the slow cooker, then stir in cooked egg noodles, or steamed white or wild rice to make it even heartier.
Game plan: This soup can be made through step 4, cooled to room temperature, and frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month (freeze the rice or noodles separately, if using). Thaw the soup and rice or noodles in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, reheat the soup, then stir in the rice or noodles.
- 1Place the water, carrots, celery, onion, and bay leaf in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine; set aside.
- 2Place the measured salt, measured pepper, and thyme in a small bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
- 3Place the chicken on a work surface or cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut off and discard any extra fat hanging around the body cavity. Drizzle the oil on the chicken and rub it all over the skin. Season inside and out with the thyme mixture. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bones, about 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- 4Transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet. When it’s cool enough to handle but still warm, use your hands to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces (discard the skin, cartilage, and bones). Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and add the parsley.
- 5Add the rice or noodles, if using, and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.