Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

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The other day I had a craving for chicken noodle soup. Craving might be too strong a word, but I really wanted some soup. In the past few years I have sworn off canned soup. Some of it is philosophic – have you seen the grocery store soup aisle? There are way too many kinds of soup: regular, lite, low sodium, low fat, low carb, bold flavor, extra chunky. It is kind of nuts that we, as a society, have a need for so many kinds of canned salty water with mushy noodles. What does that say about us? Not anything good, I can tell you.

My soup angst aside, I just haven’t enjoyed canned soup in the last few years. Maybe it is my changing tastes, but they all taste too salty, too much of the can and just not right.

I have tried making my own chicken noodle soup many times, but I just wasn’t happy with it. Sure, I have favorite recipes for vegetable soup, chili and bacon turkey chowder, but I didn’t have a chicken noodle soup I was happy with. Until now.

The secret, at least to us, was finding a commercial broth that we liked. I have made my own chicken stock, and it was sublime. But I don’t have the time or the inclination to make my own broth very often. Nor do I have the freezer space to store a ready supply.

I don’t usually tout specific brands on the blog, but I do have to call out Kitchen Basics. I have only tried their unsalted chicken stock, but it was the most flavorful, most chicken-y broth I have found. No weird ingredients either. And it has no added salt, so I can salt my dishes to my own tastes. Gold stars all around. And this is a totally unbiased opinion – I received no compensation from Kitchen Basics for this post. I just like their product.

Once I found a good broth, it was just a matter of including the vegetables I like the best in chicken soup. I started with shallots – every soup needs either shallots or onions. Next, I added a lot of celery because I love celery in soup, and because I love the aroma of sautéing celery. I added carrots, of course. They belong in chicken soup. I finished with a little garlic to round things out.

The noodles are kind of a no-brainer. Pick the shape you like the best. We have discovered (we have eaten a lot of chicken soup lately) that we prefer small noodles that are less likely to flop off our spoons or send hot soup dribbles down our chins.

Now to the chicken. I like to make extra chicken any time we are having roast chicken for dinner. Then I dice it up and freeze it in one or two cup portions. It is perfect to pull out and add to chicken soup, stir fries, fried rice, pasta or pizza. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can buy a rotisserie chicken, or have chicken one night and chicken soup the next, with the leftover chicken.

Our soup was everything I wanted in a soup – flavorful broth that tasted of chicken and vegetables instead of salt, exactly the vegetables we wanted, perfectly shaped noodles and real white meat chicken.

Throw the cans to the curb (in the recycling bin, of course) and whip up your own chicken noodle soup. You won’t be sorry.

Download or print the recipe here.

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 4-6

Your broth determines if your soup is just good or excellent. Make sure you use a tasty broth, either homemade or commercial. I like Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken stock. I like a lot of vegetables – if you like more broth, use the smaller amount of celery and carrot.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, minced
3-4 ribs celery, diced
3-4 carrots, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups low salt or unsalted chicken broth (see headnote)
¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup small noodles, I used radiatori
1-2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart pot over medium heat until shimmering.

Add shallot or onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until slightly browned and tender, lower heat if they are browning too much.

Add garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add chicken broth. Cover pot and bring it to a boil over high heat.

Once broth boils, lower the heat so the soup is boiling gently and cook for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Taste broth and add salt and pepper to taste.

Add noodles and boil, covered, until they are al dente.

Lower heat to low and add chicken. Heat just until chicken is hot. Serve hot.

Leftovers keep well, though you may need to add a little water – the soup thickens and the noodles tend to absorb the broth.

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8 thoughts on “Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

  1. Homemade soup approaches the level of religious experience in my house. At the very first sign of fall, the soup pot comes out, and continues to churn out soup after soup until the weather is just too warm to spent much time in the kitchen. I tend to make any noodles or pasta additions separately to add to the hot soup at serving time as I’ve found they tend to get a bit bloated in the leftover soup. As a solo cook, I usually freeze a couple of portions to enjoy another time, and the pasta doesn’t take to the freezer well. I do make my own chicken stock frequently, but I totally agree with your choice of Kitchen Basics as a store-bought alternative. I use all their varieties, and they’re all good. If I can’t make my own, that’s the brand I use.

    • I so want soup when the weather is cold. It just makes the whole house cozy. I have thought about making the noodles or pasta separately from the soup, but I have never done it. I might have to do that next time.

      Thanks for the review of the other Kitchen Basics varieties. I occasionally use vegetable and turkey stocks and I was wondering how their other varieties were.

  2. same! i’ve noticed that since i’ve learned how to make soups at home, i avoid the canned variety. they taste equal parts salty and bland to me…i can’t explain it, but they just aren’t as appealing as they used to be to me. Oddly enough, i’ve never made chicken noodle at home (b/c i’m evidently too busy making other things), but this will be a great recipe on hand for when i do.
    I love kitchen basics’ stocks as well: they’re SO flavorful, especially the chicken and vegetable: it’s amazing how deep their flavor is, even in the unsalted varieties.

    • I think it might have been your post on soup a few weeks ago that mentioned Kitchen Basics stocks and I thought I would look for them. What a difference from the other brands I had tried!

      You so need to make chicken noodle soup! That is, if you like it. Calvin finally decided to try it, and he loves it, so it is on the menu often now. He just wasn’t a soup fan in the past. I think he didn’t like that everything was mixed together in the bowl. 😉

  3. Sarah,
    My kids have become soup (and chili) fans in recent years. I always assumed it was unfamiliarity, since they spent formative years (up until 4 and 6) in Hawaii and I just never made soup there. I like how soup is a vehicle for vegetables for my kids.
    I’m one of the few that likes the noodles (or rice) soaking up the leftover broth, to make more of a stew for the next day.
    Thanks!

    • I do find that Calvin will eat more vegetables in soup that he will otherwise. As long as they are almost minced. 🙂 I’m not trying to hide anything, just going for no big chunks of vegetables. And we are talking “safe” things like carrots and celery. I don’t mind that the soup is a little thicker the next day. I do add a little water sometimes before I reheat it – somehow it never tastes watered down.

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