Is there anything more comforting than homemade chicken noodle soup? Perfect for cold weather, and especially good if you are fighting off a cold or flu. There are probably as many ways of making chicken noodle soup as there are moms who make it.
The key is homemade stock made from chicken parts or a whole chicken. The iron rich gelatin from the chicken cartilage and bones is good for you, and one of the reasons why homemade chicken stock is so beneficial.
If you don’t already have a cache of homemade chicken stock, the following is a recipe for making the entire soup from scratch, starting with a whole chicken, parted out. Already have chicken stock? This recipe includes instructions for a 30 minute shortcut version as well.
This recipe makes an especially clean tasting soup with a rich, clear broth, and plenty of noodles.
How to make Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch using a whole chicken
If you have a couple hours, making a chicken noodle soup entirely from scratch is the way to go. All you need is a whole chicken (cut into parts), water, celery, onions, and carrots, seasonings, and egg noodles.
The recipe is basically two parts: first you make the stock, then you strain out the bones, and make the soup.
Make the stock:
Some recipes will have you cook the chicken you will use as meat in your soup for the entire time you are cooking the bones for stock. This will produce dry, over-cooked pieces of chicken.
To avoid dried out chicken in our soup, in our recipe we first separate the breast and thigh meat from the bones that we plan on using in the finished soup. We make the stock and then add the chicken meat near the end of cooking. You could also cook these pieces whole, in the broth, and remove them after 15 minutes of cooking or so, cool them and shred them to be added at service.
To make the stock we first parboil the stock meat and bones, at high rolling boil, for 3 minutes, then discard the boiling water. This hard boil forces the scum to the surface all in one go. This is a classic stock making technique that helps produce a clear, clean-tasting broth. (You will still get all of the nutritional value from the chicken during the long simmering step that follows.)
We then return those parboiled meat and bones to the pot, add some celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and herbs, cover with water, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours to make the stock.
Make the soup:
When the stock is ready, we strain out the solids, and add fresh veggies to the stock. Any vegetables you used in making the stock will have had all of their nutritional value simmered out of them after an hour, which is why we are adding fresh vegetables.
Once the soup and vegetables are simmering, we chop up the raw chicken breast and thigh meat we had removed from the bone in the first step and return it to the soup. Then we add in the dry noodles, and the soup is done when the noodles and chicken pieces are cooked!
The quick version: making chicken noodle soup in 30 minutes
If you already have chicken stock (again homemade is best), you can make this chicken noodle soup in 30 minutes or less; just start at step 6. Add chopped carrots and celery to the stock and bring to a simmer. Then add chopped chicken breast or thighs and bring to a simmer again. Then add dry noodles. When the noodles are done, add seasonings like parsley, salt, pepper, and thyme, and you’re done!
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
While this recipe shows the step for entirely homemade chicken soup, you could also easily make this chicken noodle soup starting with already prepared stock and some raw chicken. Use about 2 quarts of chicken stock, and 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and 2 chicken thighs and proceed to step 6. Making soup this way will take about 30 minutes.
- One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into parts—breast, thighs, backs, wings and neck (if available)
- 5 carrots (2 carrots scrubbed clean, but not peeled, cut into 2 inch chunks for the stock, 3 carrots peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds for the soup)
- 5 ribs of celery (2 ribs cut into 2 inch pieces for the stock, 3 ribs cut into 1/4-inch thick slices for the soup), including celery tops for the stock
- 1 onion, quartered (for stock, peel on is okay)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peel on, cut in half
- 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or a teaspoon of dried)
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 5 whole peppercorns
- 8 to 12 ounces of egg noodles (depending on how noodle-y you want your soup)
- Freshly ground black pepper
1 Separate breast and thigh meat from bones: Remove the breast meat from the breast bones, and the thigh meat from the thigh bone, place in a bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator until needed towards the end of preparing the soup.
Remove and discard the largest pieces of breast and thigh skin. Cut away and discard excess fat from chicken pieces.
2 Parboil bones for 3 minutes: Place breast and thigh bones, the back, leg, neck, and wings in a large (8 quart) pot. Cover with water. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, remove from heat, drain off the water, rinse the bones and the pot.
3 Make stock with parboiled bones, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, peppercorns: Return the now parboiled bones to the clean pot. Add a couple carrots and a couple celery ribs, each cut into 2 inch chunks, and some celery tops if you have them, to the pot with the chicken. (Fennel tops or leek greens can be added too, if you have them.)
Add the quartered onion, garlic cloves, thyme, one-half of the parsley, and the peppercorns to the pot.
Cover with an inch or two of water (about 3 quarts). Bring to a low simmer (about 185°F) and let simmer (the stock should be just barely bubbling), partially covered, for 1 1/2 hours.
4 Strain bones and solids from the stock: At the end of 1 1/2 hours strain out the bones and vegetables, reserving the stock. If you want, set aside and strip the bones of any remaining meat. After parboiling and 1 1/2 hours of cooking the meat will be rather dry and tasteless, though you could use it in a chicken salad. Rinse out the pot and return the stock to the pot.
5 Salt the stock: Taste the stock. It should be rather bland because up to now, no salt has been added. Add salt to taste. As a guideline, for each quart of stock, add 2 teaspoons of salt.
6 Add carrots, celery: Add the sliced carrots and celery to the stock, bring to a simmer.
7 Cut raw chicken breast and thigh meat, add to stock: Cut the chicken breast and thigh meat into bite-sized pieces. Add to the pot with the carrots, celery, and stock. Return to a low simmer.
8 Add noodles, bring to simmer: Add the egg noodles and return to a simmer. Note that the noodles will expand substantially in the soup broth as they cook.
Simmer for until the egg noodles are just barely cooked through, al dente (about 5 minutes or so, depending on your package of noodles), and the chicken is just cooked through.
9 Add parsley, salt, pepper, thyme to serve: Stir in a handful of chopped fresh parsley. Add freshly ground black pepper, more thyme, and more salt to taste.