This creamy chicken noodle soup recipe is a delicious twist on the classic! Tender pieces of chicken simmer in a velvety sauce with sauteed vegetables and herbs. It’s the ultimate bowl of comfort food.
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I always make a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup on chilly days or when I want to meal prep. However, if you’re craving something creamy, you’ll love this version. I use the same aromatic vegetables and herbs as my classic recipe but transform the stock into a silky liquid.
Add flour, butter, and heavy cream to thicken the soup base. It yields a super rich and velvety consistency that clings to the tender pieces of meat and pasta. Serve with crunchy crackers, slices of crust bread, biscuits, or a crisp salad.
For a quick cooking protein, use boneless skinless breast or chicken thighs. However, you can use bone-in poultry to add extra flavor and richness from the bones to the chicken stock. Use 1 pound of boneless meat or two pounds of bone-in pieces.
You’ll need more time to cook bone-in chicken, about 5 to 10 additional minutes. For convenience, if you already have leftover roasted chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken, add it to the soup instead of cooking from scratch. Add two cups of shredded chicken at the end of cooking to warm.
Sear the chicken
I use a large dutch oven or enameled cast iron deep saute pan to cook the soup in one pot. Use a pan that can hold at least 4 ¼ quarts. Instead of adding the chicken breasts straight to the stock, briefly sear it for a few minutes on each side to add more flavor to the soup.
Season the breasts with salt and pepper, then cook in hot olive oil over medium heat. A light golden brown crust will form on the surface in just a few minutes. There will be some fond left in the pan from the released juices and proteins, which will deepen the savory taste of the soup. The meat will finish cooking when simmered in the cooking liquid.
Saute the vegetables
Use a classic mirepoix of diced onions, carrots, and celery to enhance the savory taste. Sauteeing the vegetables in butter help to lightly brown the surface and coax out the naturally sweet flavor of the ingredients. Minced garlic adds a deep allium flavor that mellows in sulfur notes when sauteed.
I add fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme to add enticing aromas. Using half the amount of dried herbs works too! Use a few bay leaves to give a slight eucalyptus flavor for dimension as it simmers in the stock. I season the mixture with salt and pepper right before adding the liquid tasty bites.
To create a thicker consistency of the soup, add flour. The starches in the flour will swell as it cooks, so the stock isn’t runny. There is already fat in the pan from the olive oil and butter used to cook the meat and vegetables. Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients, then stir until you see no more white powdery areas. Cook the mixture for a few minutes to remove the raw taste of the wheat.
This process forms a roux paste, in which the fat adds richness to the soup. It also coats the starches in the flour to prevent clumping when cooked. If you’re looking for gluten-free thickening options, use a cornstarch slurry or cassava flour. Cassava can be substituted 1:1 for flour without changing the cooking method, but it will have a slightly nutty taste.
Simmer the soup
I use unsalted chicken stock or broth to control the amount of sodium. You’ll need at least eight quarts of liquid to simmer the chicken and cook the egg noodles. It might seem like a lot at first, but the pasta will absorb a large amount of the liquid. I always have extra available to adjust the soup consistency at the end of cooking.
Bring the stock to a boil, add the seared breasts, cover, and reduce it to a low simmer. This will quickly poach the chicken in about 10 minutes. It’s ready when the internal temperature reaches 160ºF (71ºC). Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces before adding it back to the soup.
Cook the noodles
I prefer to use wide egg noodles for this creamy chicken soup. It has a very delicate and tender bite to complement the ingredients. Add it straight to the flavorful stock after removing the meat. It only takes about six minutes to boil the pasta.
Other types of pasta can be used, like ditalini, orzo, fusilli, or rotini. I recommend not using wide or long pasta. It can be overpowering and make it hard to scoop.
Add the cream
Add heavy whipping cream containing at least 36% milk fat to finish the soup. This dairy product enhances the silky texture. Add it in with the heat turned off to prevent curdling then stir in the shredded chicken. If you don’t want the soup as rich, you can use whole milk or half-and-half.
The soup will be thick, but you can add more chicken stock, water, or milk as needed. Be sure to heat the soup gently, so it’s hot when you serve, and adjust the seasoning level. I like to garnish with freshly chopped parsley or basil.
Serve this with
Frequently asked question
A thickening agent like flour and butter to make a roux thickens the soup. A cornstarch slurry can be added at the end of cooking for a gluten-free alternative. Use whole milk, half-and-half, or heavy whipping cream to add creaminess.
Use seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, or minced garlic. Fresh or dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, bay leaf, marjoram, or sage. Add white wine or sherry for more depth. To enhance the umami taste, use soy sauce. For a slight tanginess, squeeze in fresh lemon juice.
Diced potatoes can help to thicken the soup if using russets. Use waxy potatoes like Yukon golden to hold their shape. Butternut squash, zucchini, pieces of green beans, or peas are delicious additions.
Follow my recipe for making crock-pot chicken noodle soup, and combine the cream with ¼ cup cornstarch instead of flour. Cover and cook on high until thickened, 15 to 30 minutes. It’s easy to adapt the recipe in an Instant Pot using the saute setting. Use bone-in chicken thighs instead.
Using cornstarch to thicken the soup
Cornstarch can be used instead of flour. It has twice the thickening power as wheat, so you only need half the amount. Make a slurry combining the cornstarch with double the amount of water. Add it right after cooking the noodles, stirring until thickened. It will give a glossier finish to the soup.
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Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, or thighs
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups yellow onion, ½" dice
- 1 cup celery, ¼" slices
- 2 cups carrots, peeled, ¼" slices
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 11 cups unsalted chicken stock, or broth, divided
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 8 ounces wide egg noodles, 4 cups
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Season the Chicken – Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Sear the Meat – Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken, and cook, until the surface lightly browns, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate.
- Saute the Vegetables – Melt the butter in the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onions, stir, and cook until softened and lightly brown, about 4 to 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 1 ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine.
- Add the Flour – Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the 8 cups of chicken stock to remove any lumps of flour.
- Simmer the Soup – Add the chicken and bay leaves to the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF (71ºC), about 10 to 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves and transfer the chicken to a cutting board.
- Shred the Chicken – Shred the chicken into small pieces using two forks.
- Cook 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. Stir in the heavy cream.
- Add the Chicken – Add the shredded chicken to the soup. For a thinner soup, add the remaining chicken stock, ½ cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Heat over medium heat until hot. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- To Serve – Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.
- Recipe Yield: About 12 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup chicken noodle soup
- Using Bone-in Chicken Breast or Thighs: Use 2 pounds of meat. The chicken may need more time to simmer to cook through.
- Using Rotisserie Chicken: Add 2 cups of shredded meat at the end of cooking to warm.
- Use Dried Herbs: Use ¾ teaspoons of each dried rosemary and thyme.
- Using Other Dairy: Whole milk or half-and-half can be used but will have a less rich consistency.
- Make it Dairy-free: Use olive instead of butter. Use cashew milk, coconut milk, or almond milk instead of cream. The consistency will be thinner.
- Storing: Store the cooled soup in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Add more stock if needed for reheating.
- Freezing: Store in individual containers for 2 to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, or run the container over cool water, then reheat.
- Reheating: Cook over medium heat on the stovetop until hot. Add more stock or water to thin out the soup.
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