It's just the thing to get you through winter! Follow our step-by-step guide to making this tried-and-true soup.

By Laura Rege
January 12, 2021
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Credit: Armando Rafael

This classic comfort food brims with flavorful protein, vegetables, and herbs, which makes a hearty bowl of chicken soup the epitome of everything you crave in a winter meal. Master our ultimate recipe and you'll be able to easily cook up exactly what the doctor ordered on a sick day or whenever the mood strikes. Once you've got the basic iteration down, build on your chicken soup savvy by making three recipes inspired by other culinary traditions, from a bowl packed with pasta and tomatoes to one lively option with ginger and shiitake mushrooms. You also don't miss our take on aguadito de pollo, the hearty potatoes and rice version that's popular in Peru.

Chicken soup takes time, so remember that this is not a 30-minute recipe you can get on the table in a flash. It takes time to build the flavor—almost five hours for this recipe—but most of that cooking time is hands off. There's only 40 minutes of prep, making this a perfect meal to leave simmering on the stove while you work on other things around the house.

The Ingredients

What makes this recipe our go-to chicken noodle soup? Just like Grandma's recipe, ours starts with a whole chicken; the backbone, as well as extra wings, is what infuses the broth with more flavor and depth. The other ingredients are classic aromatics; onions, carrots, and celery. And you can't have chicken noodle soup without egg noodles! Using fresh thyme and parsley during cooking, as well as fresh dill to finish the soup, might not be exactly how Grandma did it, but we promise doing so will add even more flavor to your dish. A squeeze of lemon juice at the end will further brighten the flavors.

Here's how to make Our Test Kitchen's Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup in three steps:

Cook the Chicken

Fill a large pot with 14 cups water, a 4 1/2-pound chicken cut into pieces with the backbone, and 8 extra chicken wings, 4 large sprigs parsley, 2 large sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Skim foam, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes. Remove chicken (except wings); continue simmering while you discard skin and meat from bones. Cover meat and refrigerate; return bones to pot and simmer 3 1/2 hours more.

Stir in Vegetables

Strain the broth through a mesh sieve and discard solids, including bones and wings. Skim fat and transfer broth to a clean pot. Add 1 cup diced onion, 1 cup peeled and thinly sliced carrots, and 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes.

Season and Add Noodles

Cut or tear the chicken into three cups of bite-size pieces. (You'll end up with an extra cup of meat which can be used for a salad or a sandwich.) Add the chicken to broth, along with 6 ounces cooked egg noodles, 1 teaspoon chopped dill, and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Heat through and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Around the world with a bowl of chicken soup: Once you know how to make chicken noodle soup, try these three other recipes. Each uses the same basic technique but different aromatics, herbs, and starches for dramatically different but equally comforting soups.

Credit: Armando Rafael

Chicken Soup with Pasta and Tomatoes

If we had a nonna, this is what she would make. In place of celery, the recipe uses fennel and canned whole peeled tomatoes. Basil replaces the dill and the noodles are replaced by ditalini, a small, tube-shaped pasta. The soup is finished with red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan for serving.

Chicken Soup with Shiitakes and Bok Choy

Fresh ginger, shiitake mushrooms, and soy sauce are added to this chicken soup. It's a gluten-free bowl because there are no noodles. It's also a great way to get some extra greens into your diet thanks to the addition of baby bok choy.  

Chicken Soup with Rice and Potatoes

White rice and russet potatoes replace the noodles here and the soup packs more heat thanks to serrano chile. The dill and lemon juice are replaced by cilantro and garlic, and thawed frozen corn adds sweetness and heft.

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