1 whole chicken, 3 to 3½ pounds, or 4 pounds chicken backs and wings, fat removed, washed in cold water, drained, and cut through the bones into about 12 pieces
½ pound chicken feet, nails removed
8 cups (2 quarts) boiling water
3 cups sliced green onions, green parts only (in 2- inch lengths)
6 whole peppercorns
10 slices fresh ginger, the size of a quarter, smashed with the flat side of a knife, or 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
In a large soup pot, bring at least 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Drop in the chicken pieces and blanch them for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Drain the chicken, discarding the water, then rinse the chicken in cold water and drain again.
Prep the remaining ingredients as directed in the recipe list.
Heat the oven to 425°F. Bring a large kettle of water to a boil.
Place the chicken pieces and feet, 8 cups of boiling water, green onions, peppercorns, and either the ginger pieces or sesame oil in a Dutch oven. Seal the top with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then cover with a heavy lid.
Place the pot into a deep baking pan, then fill the baking pan with enough boiling water to reach about 2 inches up the side of the Dutch oven.
Bake for 2 to 3 hours, adding boiling water to the baking pan as necessary to keep the oven filled with steam.
Remove the Dutch oven from the water bath, unseal it, and skim the top of the broth to remove any impurities and fat. Strain the soup through a colander, impurities and fat. Strain the soup through a colander, then through a sieve that has been lined with moistened cheesecloth. Reserve any meaty chicken pieces. Stir the salt into the broth.
Ladle the soup into a serving bowl. At this point, if you are making the southern variation, you can whisk in a few more drops of sesame oil, if your new mother likes it. Then add a piece of the chicken meat and serve.
For the rest of the week, reheat the broth and chicken pieces in a sealed pot in a 375°F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until piping hot—this will keep the broth clear