Are you looking to make the ultimate comfort food? This classic chicken noodle soup recipe is one of my all-time favorites. I saute the meat and vegetables first for maximum surface flavor before simmering in a big pot of aromatic herbs on the stovetop.
Table of Contents
A warm bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup instantly brings comfort when you need to nourish the body. There are countless ways to make it, but this recipe incorporates a few steps and ingredients that enhance the flavor of each spoonful. The choice of chicken, herbs, vegetables, and how you prepare them is key to marrying everything together.
Ditch the mushy store-bought canned stuff loaded with too much added salt. Making soup from scratch tastes so much better. It’s also easy to make a large batch to feed the family or reheat the leftovers whenever you crave a quick warm meal.
I use a large, heavy-bottomed pan like a dutch oven to make the soup. This vessel enables you to sear the meat, saute the vegetables, braise the chicken, and boil the pasta all in the same pot. It also evenly distributes and holds the heat well, which is great for simmering the ingredients.
Bone-in chicken breast works best
Lean white meat is typically used in chicken noodle soup recipes. However, the flavor is very neutral, and it can easily taste bland. Instead, I use bone-in chicken breast with the skin-on. Searing the flesh adds flavor to the surface, just like browning a steak. This process also renders some of the fat and creates a depthness to the liquid as the meat simmers.
The bones prevent the chicken from drying out. They act as a barrier and insulator so the protein can gently cook. Browning the bones deepens the soup’s color, and the flavorful bone marrow adds depth, and it simmers.
The cartilage and connective tissue of bone-in cuts turn from collagen to gelatin in moist heat. When this happens, it adds body and richness to the soup base. Another bonus is that breast halves (also called splits) are much more affordable, nearly half the price of boneless options.
Sauteing the vegetables
Adding a mirepoix to the soup, a classic combination of chopped onions, carrots, and celery develops the savory and subtly sweet notes in the dish. Sauteing them first with a little bit of olive oil deepens their flavor and produces a slight caramelization. It helps to eliminate the sharp sulfurous taste in the raw onions.
Cook the herbs in fat to elevate their flavor
To draw out the fragrant fat-soluble flavors from the thyme and rosemary, cook them in oil with the vegetables. This process is called blooming and takes under a minute to make a significant impact. The fat helps to dissolve the compounds locked inside, diffusing them better into the stock.
Blooming the spices is guaranteed to add a more luxurious, herbaceous taste to the soup. I add the bay leaves in with the liquid. We want to keep them whole because they are inedible. Their larger surface area will gently infuse the dried flavor into the soup.
Pasta selection and cooking
Wide egg noodles are the top choice for chicken noodle soup. They are delicate with a wide surface area and cook quickly in the liquid. If you don’t have any on hand, no problem. You can use any pasta type like ditalini, mini shells, elbows, or orzo works. I prefer anything that can easily fit into the curved end of a spoon.
Instead of using a separate large pot to boil the noodles, cook them directly in the chicken stock. I do this after I remove the breast while it’s cooling down. Cook them to al dente, and it will continue to soften when you add the shredded chicken back to warm up. You don’t want the noodles to become mushy.
Ways to add more flavor
- Add fresh or dried herbs like sage, basil, and oregano.
- Herbes de Provence adds a french twist, with tarragon, marjoram, fennel, and some lavender.
- A squeeze of lemon juice adds a subtle acidity and brightness.
- Finely diced red bell pepper, hot peppers, or chili powder add a spicy kick.
- For a heartier soup, add sliced zucchini, green beans, corn kernels, or potatoes.
- A splash of heavy cream creates a more luscious consistency.
Storing and freezing
Make sure to cool the soup down to room temperature before storing it. Measure it out into smaller portions for individual meals throughout the week. The soup lasts for seven days in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat or microwave until hot. Frozen soup can be stored for up to 2 months, defrost and then reheat.
What to serve this with
Using other types of chicken
Bone-in chicken thighs are a subtable substitute but trim the excess fat as it can make the soup too greasy. Boneless works too and cooks quicker, but will be less flavorful. Make sure to check for doneness sooner. Alternatively, for a super convenient option, use leftover rotisserie chicken and add it in right before serving.
Pin this recipe to save for laterPin This
Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 ½ pounds bone-in chicken breasts, skin on
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups yellow onions, ½-inch dice
- 1 cup celery, ¼-inch thick slices
- 2 cups carrots, peeled, ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon chopped thyme, or ¾ teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 8 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 4 cups wide egg noodles
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, once hot, place chicken skin-side down. Cook until the skin is golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over and cook until the bones are browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. There should be about 1 tablespoon of drippings in the pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, stir and cook softened and lightly brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add celery, cook for 3 minutes. Add carrots, cook for 2 minutes.
- Add garlic, thyme, and rosemary to the pan, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper, stir to combine.
- Add the chicken back to the pan, skin-side up. Add bay leaves and chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low if needed to keep the stock at a simmer. Cook the soup until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF (71ºC), about 15 to 25 minutes. Discard bay leaves and remove chicken from the pot.
- Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones. Shred the chicken into small pieces using two forks.
- Turn heat to medium-high on the pot until the stock is at a rapid simmer. Add the pasta, stir and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the shredded chicken and allow it to warm for a few minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Garnish the soup with chopped parsley and serve hot.
Want to save this recipe?
Create an account easily save your favorite content, so you never forget a recipe again.
Tried this recipe?
Tag @jessica_gavin on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!