For this classic chicken noodle soup, tender shredded chicken is combined with homemade broth, sautéed vegetables, pasta, and spinach. The result is a bowl of comforting goodness.
Sophie found some of this stashed in the freezer recently when she was at home with the flu and cried with happy relief. Admittedly, she was at a particularly low ebb, but this soup is the essence of comfort and we would be most surprised if it doesn’t have magical healing powers.—Katherine Westwood
Classic Chicken Noodle Soup FAQs
Every time I cook pasta in soup, the broth gets really cloudy. How can I prevent this?
That’s because the pasta is throwing off starch. (Take a look at your pasta water the next time you boil spaghetti; it looks like dishwater!) What I do is cook the pasta separately, drain it, then rinse it. All the starch gets washed off and the resulting soup is much clearer.
How can I make this chicken noodle soup faster? I don’t always have two hours on a weeknight to make dinner.
I hear you. Start the recipe at step 5. Shred any leftover chicken you have or pick up a rotisserie chicken at the market, and add 4 to 6 cups of good quality store-bought chicken stock. It won’t be the same as entirely homemade, but you’ll have this on the table in 20 minutes.
Can I freeze this soup?
You sure can, and I suggest you do. I do it all the time. My only caveat is to freeze the soup in a zip-top freezer bag without the noodles. When you freeze cooked pasta, it gets limp and unappetizing. When you want to make dinner, thaw the soup, toss a pot on the stove, cook the pasta, and stir it on just before serving.
Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
For the soup
- One (3-pound) chicken
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt plus more if needed
- 2 garlic cloves 1 whole and 1 crushed
- 1 large handful fresh parsley stems removed and reserved, leaves coarsely chopped
- 3 medium stalks (6 oz) celery thinly sliced
- 3 medium (8 oz) carrots diced
- 2 medium (12 oz) yellow onions diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium (8 oz) leeks white parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 1/4 ounces risoni or other small soup pasta such as orzo, pastina, or ditalini
- 1 3/4 ounces fresh baby spinach (optional, but nutritious)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Crusty bread
Make the soup
- To a large saucepan, add the chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough water to cover.
- Add the whole garlic clove, the parsley stems, half the celery, half the carrots, and half the onions. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim, then turn down to low and simmer until the chicken is tender and can be pulled off the bone, about 1 hour.
- Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and let cool. Strain and skim any fat from the broth.
- When the chicken is cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred the meat off the bones into bite-sized pieces – the bones have given up all their goodness now and can be discarded. Cover the shredded chicken until needed. (This will give you more chicken than is necessary for this dish. Either go to town and have your soup chock-full of chicken or save some of the meat for sandwiches or salads.)
- In another large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil and cook the remaining celery, carrot, onion, and garlic, the sliced leeks, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt until soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Pour in the reserved chicken broth, increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Add the risoni or other pasta and cook, according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
- Stir in the shredded chicken, baby spinach, and parsley leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- Serve hot, with freshly ground black pepper and crusty bread.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I am sure there is a variation of classic chicken noodle soup that could be debated as the best, or that their grandma’s rules the roost, but this fair wee little pot of comfort sure gets a hardy YAHOO from this mom. I can’t count the pots and bowls of chicken noodle soup I have either consumed or made in my life, but I can put my full heart into this pot of love because that is what it is. My love for food goes deep and easy-to-follow, easy to prepare, and big on flavour is exactly what a good recipe should deliver. I am not one to glossy over a recipe to just get likes, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the real depth of flavour in this stock and preparation.
Letting the real stars of ingredients shine here and a good two-hour simmer really gave me the flavour I was hoping to achieve. Using real egg noodles from an Italian deli or making your own like pastina listed in the recipe is an excellent recommendation.
I also added individual leaves of fresh spinach to each bowl as the soup hot out of the pot wilts them to perfection. My teen likes his soup thicker on the spoon, so for those who wish to have more soup, do add more stock in the coming days if there are any leftovers. I don’t think there will be any though!
Warm and cozy, this classic chicken noodle soup is more colorful and far more flavorful than any can of soup could ever be. It’s a great make-ahead meal for cold nights.
I boiled a 3.75lb chicken and used 2 cups of shredded chicken meat in the soup. The rest I saved to make a chicken pot pie. My pasta of choice was orzo. I made the soup the day before along with a batch of Jim Lahey’s No Knead Small Baguette recipe (a perfect pair!) I’m looking forward to making the next batch and saving some in the freezer.
Originally published January 17, 2022