Prep and cook time: about 4 hours Serves 8
1 onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 ounces peeled ginger, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, crushed
10 whole black peppercorns
1 3-pound whole organic chicken, cut into 7 pieces
(2 breasts, 2 legs with thighs attached, 2 wings, 1 back)
6 quarts water (preferably filtered or spring water)
sea salt to taste
Place the first 5 ingredients in a large heavy pot. Add chicken, placing breasts on top. Add water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover with lid slightly ajar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken breasts are just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken breasts to a plate; let cool, then cover and chill. Continue to simmer soup with other chicken pieces, uncovered, until broth is fully flavored, about 2½ hours longer. Return breasts to soup to rewarm for about 5 minutes.
Remove chicken from broth. When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat and set aside. Discard skin and bones. Place a fine-mesh sieve or colander over another large pot; strain broth through sieve, discarding solids left in strainer. There should be about 8 cups of broth remaining. Season with salt as desired.
Rewarm broth. Divide chicken among bowls. Pour hot broth over chicken, dividing equally. Garnish soup with cilantro leaves.