(I don't know if they'd want to take the blame for it, but this recipe started out as The 2nd Avenue Deli's Chicken in the Pot.)
4-5 lbs mixed chicken parts, such as feet, backs, wings, necks
1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs, the older and cheaper the better
2 tablespoons coarse salt, such as sea salt
6-8 large, even overgrown carrots, trimmed but not peeled
3 parsnips, the same
2 large or 3-4 small leeks, trimmed at base, cleaned, and cut in half; use only white and light green parts
6-8 dark-green outer stalks of celery; again, best if a bit old
2 medium yellow onions, cut in quarters but not all the way through. DO NOT PEEL BROWN SKIN! We're actually going to use it
Special Equipment: a large stock pot (5 gallons or more); wide-mouth quart or half-gallon mason jars with two-piece lids
1 to 1.5 gallons
Place the chicken parts and the whole chicken in stock pot. Add water to cover and then two inches over. add salt.
Bring to a boil and thereafter cook at fast simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove whole chicken (a large strainer is good for "netting" it out of the pot) and place in bowl or large rimmed dish to cool. Cover with a damp paper towel if there are flies or curious pets (or men) in your kitchen.
When the chicken is cool you will have to find someone as good as my Tracy to strip the skin off the meat and the meat off the bone. We always make chicken salad with this...but you can chop the chicken meat and put it back in the soup, or whatever you like.
Cook for 90 minutes uncovered. Do not add more water--but if you are working on an unfamiliar stove, do check to see how the water level is going. If water does not cover chicken and vegetables, cover pot and reduce heat to medium simmer.
Now taste the soup. It should taste bland at first--nothing more than salty water--but then something hits you at the back of your tongue. Richness? Body? Whatever you'd call it, it convinces you that this is not hot water in which chicken and veg have been boiled, but more.
It is in fact now a kind of chicken stock (although true stock is made from bones and vegetable peelings). Give it another 30 minutes and taste again.
Maybe your soup at 90 minutes will taste like full-bodied soup. Does it also have a pale golden yellow color? Good--that means it's almost done. And, by the way, it won't be clear at any point. It's a good cloudy soup. That cloudiness denotes Soul.
Anyway, go on cooking (medium to high simmer) until the soup reaches this point. How long it will take depends on the chicken, the vegetables, your pot and, most of all, the stove.
Finally, strain the soup. You can start by pouring everything into a pasta pot with a colander insert, or a real colander set over a very large bowl. You may have to fish out the chicken parts and the vegetables with your trusty strainer. Whatever. At one point or another you will be standing before a pot of soup with small bits of stuff in it.
You may have to do this in batches, but strain the soup one more time, because the chicken feet have been so throughly cooked and overcooked that a toe or so is probably buried in the depths of the soup.
With a large ladle (and, best possible case, working in the sink), fill each glass jar with soup. Leave on your kitchen counter until glass is cool enough to handle and then refrigerate bottles.
If you are the kind of person who skims fat off the surface of cold soup, I see no reason to stop you from doing that.
If you have used chicken feet, you will find that the soup, when completely cooled, is a loose gel in the jars. This only proves what a good cook you are. But if you could not find any chicken feet, that's all right. Your soup will be elegant and liquid.
Pour into a plastic container with a tightly-fitting top and freeze some of the soup if you like. It keeps, frozen for at least a month. In the refrigerator, keep sniffing the soup whenever you warm it up. It should be good for at least a week, but we are dealing with all-fresh, all-natural ingredients, so you'll want to be careful.