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.
A warm bowl of 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 salt, and instead make a homemade soup from scratch that tastes 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.
Why bone-in chicken breast works best
Generally, lean white meat is neutral in taste which is why I use bone-in chicken breast with the skin on because of the small amount of fat and flavors inside the bone marrow. During the cooking process, they infuse into the chicken stock adding richness to the soup base.
Searing the skin adds more flavor to the surface just like browning a steak. This also renders some of the fat and creates a depthness to the liquid as the meat simmers.
Even more on the plus side, breast halves are readily available at the market and are an affordable cut.
Sauteing vegetables and herbs elevate their flavor
Onions, carrots, and celery together are a classic combination called a mirepoix that adds savory notes to a dish. Sauteing them first with a little bit of olive oil deepens their flavor and develops a slight sweetness that eliminates the sharp taste raw vegetables can have.
To draw out the fragrant fat-soluble flavors from the thyme and rosemary, cook them with the vegetables in the oil. It’s guaranteed to add a more luxurious, herbaceous taste to the soup.
Pasta selection and cooking
Wide egg noodles are the top choice for chicken noodle soup. Egg noodles are delicate with a wide surface area but cook quickly in the liquid. If you don’t have any on hand, no problem. Really, you can use any type of pasta like ditalini, mini shells, elbows, or orzo work too. 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 it in the chicken stock when the breast is removed and cooling down. Just add back the chicken when ready to serve.
More ways to flavor the chicken soup
Fresh or dried herbs like sage, basil and oregano are nice additions. Herbes de Provence adds a french twist, with tarragon, marjoram, fennel, and some lavender. A squeeze of lemon juice adds a subtle acidity.
Finely diced red bell pepper, hot peppers, or chili powder add a spicy kick. Sliced zucchini, green beans, corn kernels, or bite-sized pieces of potatoes make the soup heartier. Adding in some heavy cream can help to thicken the soup liquid more like a stew.
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, or for freezing. The soup lasts for 7 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.
More soup recipes
What other types of chicken can be used?
Bone-in chicken thighs are a subtable substitute, but just trim the excess fat as it can make the soup too greasy. For a super convenient option, use leftover rotisserie chicken added in right before serving.
Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 ½ pounds (1.1 kg) chicken half breasts with ribs, bone-in
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt, plus more for seasoning chicken
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning chicken
- 2 tablespoons (15 ml) olive oil , divided
- 2 cups (227 g) diced yellow onions, ½-inch dice
- 1 cup (114 g) celery, ¼-inch thick slices
- 2 cups (284 g) carrots, peeled, ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 tablespoon (9 g) minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoons chopped thyme, or ¾ teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 8 cups (64 ounces) unsalted chicken stock
- 6 ounces (227 g) 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 3 to 5 minutes.
- Flip and cook until the bones are browned, 3 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate. There should be about 1 tablespoon of drippings in the pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, heat over medium heat. Add onions, stir and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Add celery, cook for 2 minutes. Add carrots, cook for 1 minute.
- Add garlic, thyme, and rosemary to the pan, stir and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add salt and pepper, stir to combine.
- Add chicken back to the pan, skin-side up.
- Add bay leaves and chicken stock to the pan.
- Bring liquid to a boil, cover and reduce to medium-low to simmer.
- Cook for 15 minutes, then flip the chicken over.
- Cook soup until chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 160ºF (71ºC), about 15 minutes. Reduce heat if needed to keep stock at a simmer.
- Discard bay leaves and remove chicken from the pot. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones. Shred into small pieces using a fork.
- Meanwhile, turn heat to medium-high on the pot. Add the pasta, stir and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and allow it to warm for a few minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Garnish with chopped parsley.