This classic chicken noodle soup recipe is one of my all-time favorites. I first saute the meat and vegetables for maximum surface flavor before simmering them in a big pot of aromatic herbs.
Table of Contents
A warm bowl of homemade chicken soup is the perfect comfort food 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.
Ditch the mushy store-bought canned stuff loaded with 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 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 celery and carrots, braise the chicken, and boil the pasta in the same pot. It also evenly distributes and holds heat well, which is great for simmering the ingredients.
Bone-in chicken breast works best
Lean white meat is typically used in chicken soup recipes. However, the flavor is very neutral and 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.
The bones prevent the cooked 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 bone marrow adds flavor.
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 olive oil deepens their flavor and produces a slight caramelization. It helps to eliminate the sharp sulfurous taste in 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.
Simmer the soup
The cartilage and connective tissue of bone-in cuts of chicken turn from collagen to gelatin when simmering in chicken broth or stock. 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.
Add the noodles
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 they 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 lavender.
- A squeeze of lemon juice adds a subtle acidity and brightness.
- Add a spicy kick with diced red bell pepper, hot peppers, or chili powder.
- 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, add leftover rotisserie chicken before serving.
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" dice
- 1 cup celery, ¼" slices
- 2 cups carrots, peeled, ¼" 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 the Chicken – Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Cook the Meat – Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, place the chicken skin-side down. Cook until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.Flip and cook until the bones are browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. There should be about 1 tablespoon of drippings left in the pan.
- Saute the Vegetables – Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions. Stir and cook until softened and lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add celery, and cook for 3 minutes. Add carrots, and cook for 2 minutes.Add garlic, thyme, and rosemary to the pan, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
- Simmer the Soup – 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 the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF (71ºC), about 15 to 25 minutes. Discard bay leaves and remove the chicken from the pot.
- Shred the Chicken – Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones. Shred the chicken into small pieces using two forks.
- Add the Noodles – Turn the heat to medium-high. Once 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.
- To Serve – Garnish the soup with chopped parsley and serve hot.
- Using Boneless Chicken Breast or Thighs: Sear the surface and check for doneness earlier as they cook quicker. The soup will not have as much body with boneless cuts.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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