Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
When you want a hot bowl of comfort but don’t want to slave over the stove for hours, this quick and easy Chicken Noodle Soup recipe is the perfect choice. It has the simple, clean flavors you expect from this classic, and it’s ready in 30 minutes.
There’s something to be said for the chicken noodle soup that takes 2 days to make, and starts from scratch with the whole chicken. But when you’re sick and also the cook of the household, homemade chicken broth is typically not in the cards. You need something easy!
For the past week I’ve been the kind of sick where at times you don’t even feel like you can watch TV in bed, and this easy Chicken Noodle Soup has helped me get by. It’s delicious, still homemade, and free of preservatives! It really hits the spot on cold nights.
Tips for Best Results
Use a quality chicken broth – I once did a taste test comparing several brands of chicken broth from the grocery store, and the differences were staggering. Since you’re not making the broth yourself from the whole bird, you need to start with a good broth. My favorite brands are Imagine and Swanson.
Season the soup well – If a soup is underseasoned, it’s difficult for the flavors to come through, even if there is a good mix of vegetables and herbs. The salt helps you taste the flavor.
Use a fresh herb – Soup is a very aromatic food, and herbs are all about aroma and flavor. They make a big difference here! Rosemary and thyme are my top recommendations.
The difference between broth and stock
Although many people think of them as interchangeable, it’s best to use broths for homemade soups. Broths are typically made more with meat whereas stocks are made more with bones, giving a different type of mouthfeel. A true broth will give you that classic chicken noodle soup flavor and feel that you’re going for.
When making quick soups like this one where you’re not really simmering anything, it’s important to use a broth that has a lot of flavor to begin with. It’s what lets you get away with such a quick preparation that still tastes delicious.
I suggest buying a handful of brands from the store and doing your own taste test. I have found that brands vary hugely in terms of richness and flavor. I tend to like Swanson and Imagine.
Select your pasta
There’s a lot of customization that can happen for this soup overall, but especially with the noodles. You can add any kind of pasta you’d like, like stars, spirals, and more, but I really love a wide pappardelle egg noodle, as they remind me most of homemade noodles.
You can also make this easy recipe much heartier by adding tortellini, like in my Chicken Spinach Tortellini Soup.
Step by Step Overview:
To get started, chop some carrots, onion and celery:
I include more carrots and celery stalks than what is traditional for a mirepoix because I love tasting the carrots and celery in every bite.
Sweat the carrots, onion, and celery in a large pot with a little bit of fat, salt, and pepper over medium heat:
Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened:
Next add chicken broth, and your fresh herbs of choice. I like to add some fresh thyme or fresh rosemary. I usually do not bother adding bay leaves here because the simmering time is so short, but you may also add a bay leaf if you prefer.
If you don’t have any fresh herbs on hand, I recommend adding dried herbs. Try 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, dried rosemary, or dried thyme.
Make sure to buy a really good quality chicken broth for this, as the available options vary hugely in quality. If you google “best tasting chicken broths” you will see lots of posts where people did blind taste tests. My favorite brands are Imagine and Swanson, and I’ve noticed that these tend to rank well for others too.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer:
After 10 minutes of simmering time, I add some finely chopped chicken seasoned with salt and pepper, which cooks very quickly. Simply chop it up on a cutting board into small pieces.
I’m using skinless chicken breasts here as my personal preference, but darker meat is a great choice too. For dark meat, I’d recommend chopping up boneless skinless chicken thighs, which will be a little bit more tender:
Simmer the chicken for just a couple minutes, until fully cooked through.
You can also add shredded pre-cooked chicken, either from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or Crockpot Chicken Breast, which I often keep on hand. This is a great place to use any leftover chicken you’ve got in the refrigerator.
As far as the pasta goes, I boil the noodles separately and also store them separately from the liquid, to avoid that mushy disintegrated noodle texture. My absolute favorite here is wide egg noodles. Make sure to cook the noodles al dente, as they will soften further in the broth.
How to Serve
When you’re ready to serve the soup, add a handful of noodles to a bowl and ladle over the hot broth. Sometimes I will garnish the bowl of chicken noodle soup with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice, or some extra thyme leaves.
This homemade chicken noodle soup recipe goes beautifully with a side of fresh Asiago Black Pepper Bread or some Drop Biscuits. You can also use gluten-free pasta here, or simply omit the noodles to make it low carb.
For a really special lunch, you can try pairing the chicken noodle soup with something more elaborate, like a Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese Sandwich or Chicken Cordon Bleu Panini. Cheddar Scallion Biscuits are also lovely, or you could do a salad on the side like this Kale Caesar Salad.
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Yes, for up to three months. Leave extra room in the container to allow for expansion of the liquid. Also, chill the soup fully in the fridge before freezing.
It lasts a solid 5 days at a minimum, though I can usually keep it for 7 days in the coldest part of the fridge. I recommend storing the noodles separately, in an airtight container.
I recommend boiling the noodles separately and also storing them separately from the liquid, to avoid that mushy disintegrated noodle texture. Add the noodles just before serving.
Yes, though I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble since it requires a lot of extra time, and the flavor is not as good when the veggies aren’t sauteed. Using the instant pot may be a better option. To use the slow cooker, combine all ingredients except the pasta in the crock pot, and cook on low for about 4 hours, until the meat is cooked through. Then I would still cook the pasta separately in a large stockpot and add it as needed to each bowl before serving.
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Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 cups chopped celery
- 1.5 cups chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 10 cups chicken broth (I like Imagine Organic and Swanson brands)
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme*
- 3 cups finely chopped chicken breast or thighs seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper
- 8 oz pappardelle egg noodles or other desired noodle, cooked**
- Heat a soup pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil, celery, carrots, onion, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until softened.
- Add the chicken broth and thyme, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over low heat.
- Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the chopped chicken and simmer for 3 minutes, until the meat is cooked through.
- Taste the broth and make any necessary seasoning adjustments. Depending on the salt content of the broth you use, it may need additional salt.
- Serve the soup in bowls with a handful of noodles added to each one. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.