Almost all the chicken I buy now is whole and directly from the farm. That means tons of chicken bones and tons of homemade chicken stock. I make a lot of chicken soup, with several variations. I recently tried this recipe though, and loved it. I think the extra flavor comes from sauteing the vegetables first instead of adding them raw to the stock.
The last time I made this soup, I had previously cut of the breasts for a previous meal. I used the remaining chicken meat and bones to start the stock. You could use all the meat from a whole chicken, but I would probably increase the amount of vegetables listed below. You can also use cooked chicken from another source, but please do not make this without homemade stock. The benefits of homemade stock are unbeatable, and so is the taste. Whenever I have chicken bones I make stock and freeze it in quarts for later use.
Chicken Rice Soup
1 onion, diced
4-5 carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper
to make stock and chicken: 1 whole chicken, 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 rib celery
if using already made stock and chicken: 8 or so c. chicken stock and 2-3 c. shredded, cooked chicken
To cook chicken and make stock: Add one whole chicken to a large pot with roughly chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 90 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Remove chicken from bones and shred. Put the bones back in the pot and keep simmering, up to 24 hours.
To soup pot, add onions, carrots, and celery. Let soften, but do not brown. When almost done cooking, add garlic. Cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme, and salt and pepper. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add shredded chicken and heat through. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a scoop of cooked rice in each bowl.