How to Make Chicken-Noodle Soup

One of the most comforting foods around, Chicken-Noodle Soup hits the spot for an easygoing one-pot supper -- or when someone you care for is feeling a bit under the weather.


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Whether you're serving it with a sandwich for Saturday lunch, with crusty rolls for a Sunday night soup supper, or reheating it at work for a satisfying noontime lunch, Chicken-Noodle Soup is a surefire satisfier. We'll show you two ways to get it to your table. If you have a little extra time, make it the old-fashioned way with a slow-simmered, made-from scratch stock and meat pulled fresh from the bone. When you're in a hurry, check out our 35-minute version.

Old-Fashioned Chicken-Noodle Soup

While you need about 2 hours to make this soup, the actual hands-on prep time is only 20 minutes. The rest of the time is hands-off simmering, freeing you up to do other things while the soup stock gets richer and bolder and fills your home with irresistibly comforting aromas. This recipe makes 8 main-dish servings.

1. Combine the Chicken, Water & Seasonings

In a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven combine 2-1/2 pounds bone-in meaty chicken pieces, 8 cups water, 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium-size onion), 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1 bay leaf. 

  • Tip: Your soup will only be as good as the chicken that flavors it. Use quality skin-on, meaty pieces. Dark meat adds richness, as do the bones. Stewing chickens tend to have more flavor than younger birds. You can start with a whole chicken.  Learn how to cut up a whole chicken.
  • Tip: You can also experiment with flavor enhancers. Add 2 to 4 cloves minced garlic or add a few sprigs fresh thyme or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried herbs (thyme, basil, sage) along with the ingredients above. A tablespoon of any of the following also adds complexity to the soup: cider vinegar, coconut oil, and/or grated ginger.

2. Simmer Until Chicken is Tender

Bring the chicken mixture to boiling. Reduce heat so the liquid is just simmering. Cover the pot and let the liquid simmer about 1-1/2 hours or until the chicken is tender when poked with a fork.

3. Cut Up the Chicken

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the broth and allow it to stand until cool enough to handle. Cut or pull the meat from the bones. Discard the skin and bones. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and set aside. Remove the bay leaf from the broth and discard it.

4. Skim Fat from Soup's Surface

The easiest way to skim the fat from the broth is by using a large metal spoon to skim off the layer of fatty liquid that has risen to the top of the broth. Here are other ways to skim fat from broth.

5. Add Vegetables

Bring the broth to boiling. Add 1 cup chopped carrot (2 medium carrots) and 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks of celery). Simmer, covered for 5 minutes.

6. Add the Noodles

Stir in 1-1/2 cups dried egg noodles (uncooked). Return the broth to boiling and simmer, covered, about 5 minutes or until the noodles are tender but still firm. Stir in the chopped chicken and 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley. To serve, ladle into soup bowls.

  • Tip: Before serving, taste the soup and adjust the seasonings as desired. If the soup lacks flavor, it may need a bit of salt. You can also squeeze in about a tablespoon of lemon juice or add a subtle touch of heat with a dash of cayenne pepper.

Quick Chicken-Noodle Soup

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In this recipe, chicken broth and cooked, chopped chicken are shortcuts to a speedier take on the classic. This recipe takes about 35 minutes start to finish, and makes 4 main-dish servings.

1. Choose Your Broth

This simplified soup can use one of several chicken broth options. You'll need 4-1/2 cups. Choose from one of these:

  • Canned chicken broth. Use straight from the can or carton, unless it's a condensed broth, which you should dilute according to the label directions. Note that canned chicken broths are often high in sodium, so you may want to choose a low-sodium version. Organic chicken broths tend to be lower in sodium as well.
  • Chicken base. This pastelike ingredient comes in a jar and must be refrigerated after opening. Reconstitute it according to package directions.
  • Chicken bouillon cubes or granules. Reconstitute according to package directions.
  • Homemade chicken stock. If you wish to make chicken stock from scratch to have on hand for this and other soups, see our recipe for Basic Chicken Stock.

2. Choose Your Chicken

You'll need 2 cups chopped cooked chicken. You can use white meat, dark meat, or a combination. Good options include chicken pulled from a deli-roasted chicken, leftover cooked chicken, or frozen fully cooked chicken strips (thawed). Or poach your own chicken breasts. You can also use chopped cooked turkey.

3. Combine Soup Ingredients

In a 3-quart saucepan combine the 4-1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup chopped onion (1 large onion), 1 cup sliced carrots (2 medium carrots), 1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks of celery), 1 teaspoon dried basil or oregano, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1 bay leaf.

• Tip: To maximize the flavor of dried herbs, crush them between your thumb and forefinger before you add them to the soup.

4. Quick-Simmer the Soup

Bring the soup to boiling. Reduce the heat to simmering. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Add the Noodles

Stir in 1-1/2 cups dried medium egg noodles (uncooked). Return to boiling. Reduce heat to simmering. Cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until noodles are tender but still firm and vegetables are just tender.

6. Add the Chicken

Discard bay leaf. Stir in 2 cups chopped cooked chicken. Continue cooking to heat through. To serve, ladle soup into bowls.

How to Refrigerate or Freeze Leftover Chicken-Noodle Soup

One of the best things about making a pot of soup is that you often have leftovers, which you can refrigerate or freeze to bring comfort to another day. Here's how:

  • Cool the soup before freezing or refrigerating. You can place the pot in a sink of ice water and stir the soup so it cools quickly.
  • For short-term storage, divide the cooled soup among shallow containers. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • To freeze, divide the cooled soup among shallow freezer-safe containers. Leave about 1/2 inch space between the top of the soup and the rim of its container. This will provide room for the soup to expand while it freezes. Freeze the soup for up to 3 months.
  • For food safety, thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator (1 to 2 days) or in the microwave (never at room temperature). Reheat to a rolling boil before serving.

How to Make Chicken Noodle Soup
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