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This post was originally published on November 9, 2017.
Over thirteen years ago, a church friend gave me a big container of creamy chicken noodle soup. We quickly devoured it all up, and I had to have the recipe.
I have tweaked it by changing some of the spices, omitting the bouillon cubes, adding garlic, sautéing the vegetables, and blooming the spices. I also prefer to cook the noodles separately, as they tend to swell up if left in the soup.
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How to lighten up chicken noodle soup?
- Don't add any milk or cream.
- Use evaporated milk.
- Use coconut milk.
How many calories are in one serving?
For 1 ¼ cups of soup, our recipe has 222 calories and 8.4g of fat. It is also high in vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. For more nutritional information, scroll past the recipe card.
How do you thicken this soup?
Our recipe doesn't use a thickening agent, as we wanted the broth to be thinner. If you'd like your soup thicker, here's some options.
- Use a roux. Sprinkle flour over the sauteed vegetables and the spices and let it cook 2 minutes while stirring.
- Make a slurry of cornstarch or arrowroot in a bowl with 1 cup of hot broth. Whisk until smooth, then mix into the soup.
- Add diced potato. Add 1 ½ cups of peeled and diced potatoes to the soup. As it cooks, the starch from the potato will help thicken the soup.
What ingredients are in this recipe?
- Broth: homemade is best, but use store bought when in a pinch.
- Vegetables: onion, carrot, and celery that are sautéed in oil or butter.
- Spices: keep it simple or go wild. Some suggestions are oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
- Noodles: egg noodles are traditional, but feel free to use rotini, mini lasagna noodles, zucchini, or sweet potato noodles.
- Chicken: use roasted, poached, or rotisserie that's been shredded or chopped.
- Garnish: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, black pepper, or parsley are tasty options.
Why cook the noodles separately?
If you know you'll be eating your soup later in the day or that you'll have leftovers, it is best to cook the noodles separately. This way, the noodles will stay fresh and won't be overcooked or soggy.
With time, noodles that are in the soup will soak up more broth, swell, and become soggy. If this doesn't bother you, then add your uncooked noodles directly to the soup.
How long does this last in the fridge?
If the soup is stored in an airtight container, it should keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Feel free to make a big batch!
Can you freeze this?
Yes and no, it depends.
- For best results, freeze the soup without dairy or with evaporated milk.
- Don't freeze the soup with milk or cream. This higher fat dairy can have a poor texture when thawed.
- Don't freeze the noodles. They tend to get soggy when they're thawed and reheated.
How should I freeze this recipe?
- Seal the soup inside of an airtight container or a zip-top freezer bag.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat over medium-low heat until warm. Add more grated Parmesan and the cooked noodles.
How can I make this in the slow cooker?
- Sauté the onion, carrot, and celery in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until soft.
- Add all the dried spices except the bay leaves to the sautéed veggies and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Stir together the veggie mixture, shredded chicken, stock, and bay leaves in the slow cooker.
- Cook covered for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
- Skim any fat from the top with a large metal spoon near the end of the cooking time. Remove the bay leaves.
- Noodles. During the last 30 minutes, cook the egg noodles separately according to the instructions on the bag. Drain the noodles and toss them in a little oil.
- Milk. Turn off the slow cooker and mix in the evaporated milk. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
- Serve the soup hot, with noodles on the bottom of each bowl and the soup ladled on top.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients: a whole chicken, onions with the peel on, celery with the leaves, carrots, and spices.
Place the whole chicken in a Dutch oven and cover with with 9 cups of filtered water.
Add the onions, carrots, celery, and spices. Cover the pot with a lid.
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours.
Remove the bird from the Dutch oven and let it cool and drain in a colander. Keep the celery and carrots to eat later, and remove the bay leaves.
When it has cooled, discard the skin and remove the bones. Shred it with your hands or with two forks.
Strain any bits out of the broth with a large metal spider or a large slotted spoon. If you want it really clear, strain the broth by pouring it through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. When the broth has cooled, skim off any fat with a large metal spoon.
Now that the homemade broth is done, it's time to make the soup. If you are using store bought broth and rotisserie chicken, this is where you would start on this recipe.
Gather all the ingredients: homemade chicken broth, shredded chicken, butter, vegetables, spices, egg noodles, evaporated milk, and Parmesan cheese.
Melt the butter over medium high heat, then sauté the onions, carrots and celery until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the dry spices, except the bay leaves, to the onion mixture and cook for 30 seconds to bloom the spices. This will bring out more flavor.
Deglaze the pot. Do this by pouring in ½ cup or so of broth and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the Dutch oven with a wooden turner.
Pour in the homemade broth and add the bay leaves.
Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Take the pot off the heat and pour in the evaporated milk and stir with a large wooden spoon.
If you used homemade chicken broth, you'll want to skim the fat off the top with a large metal spoon.
Add the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Cook the egg noodles separately and add them to each individual bowl, then ladle the soup on top.
When ready to serve, add more Parmesan cheese as a garnish.
If you have a sick child in the house, or you are just craving something homemade, make up a big batch. This classic pairs well with our rustic cob loaf.
- Need the soup to be dairy free? Use coconut milk.
- Don't want to add noodles? Add ⅔ cup of uncooked rice.
- Don't want traditional noodles? Try zoodles or sweet potato noodles.
- Want to add more vegetables? Try spinach, kale, or peas.
- Want less fat in the soup? Skim off extra fat while it cooks or while it cools.
- Want to brighten the soup? Stir in 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice at the end.
- Need a short cut? Use store bought chicken stock and rotisserie chicken.
- Make your own chicken broth for the best flavor and health benefits.
- Leave the onion skins on for the broth to give the broth more color.
- Don't want to use a whole bird? Use bone in thighs, brown them first, then cook in broth.
- Saute the mirepoix (celery, carrots, and onions) for more flavor.
- Bloom the spices (cook them with the veggies for 30 seconds) for an extra delicious soup.
- Keep the noodles separate to keep them from getting soggy.
- OXO Wooden Turner: this sturdy wooden stirring spoon is great for sautéing veggies.
- Emeril Lagasse Dutch Oven: this is our favorite heavy-bottomed pot for making soups.
- Stainless Steel Colander: this colander has a convenient base that allows it to stand in the sink.
- Bamboo Cutting Board: this roomy cutting board is the perfect size for chopping veggies.
- Cuisinart Box Grater: we love the silicone handle and sharp grating holes on this grater.
Fighting off a cold? Try these other healthy soups to help you feel better.
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This creamy chicken noodle soup recipe is easy to make from scratch in the crock pot or on the stovetop. This healthy, lightened up version is the best soup for colds, since the homemade chicken broth has immune boosting properties that aid in the healing process.
For the Chicken Broth
- 1 whole chicken (4-5 pounds; 1.8-2.2 kg)
- 9 cups water (2.1 liters)
- 1 ½ yellow onions, quartered with skin on
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks (155g)
- 2 celery stalks, cut into large chunks with leaves (100g)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Soup
- 2 tablespoons salted butter (28g)
- 2 cups yellow onion, diced (232g)
- 2 cups carrots, chopped (197g)
- 2 cups celery, chopped (168g)
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 ½ cups chicken, shredded (570g)
- 9 cups homemade chicken stock (2.1 liters)
- 12 fluid ounces evaporated milk (354 ml)
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (reserve two tablespoons for garnish; 40g)
- 2 ½ cups wide egg noodles, uncooked (153g)
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
Making the Broth (2 hrs 30 min)
- Rinse the chicken and remove the giblets. Place it in a Dutch oven and cover with about 9 cups of filtered water. Add the yellow onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, and parsley.
- Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then let the broth simmer for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and let it cool in a colander to allow the extra stock to drain out of the chicken.
- Strain the broth by using a metal spider or slotted spoon to remove any chunks. If you want, you can pour it through a sieve lined with cheesecloth to strain out the smallest pieces. Discard the onions, parsley, and bay leaves, and keep the celery and carrots for another use.
- Once the stock has settled for a while, the fat will rise to the top. Skim off the fat that floats to the top with a large metal spoon.
- When cool enough to touch, discard the skin and bones and shred the chicken with your fingers or with two forks. Measure out 4 ½ cups (570g) for the soup, and reserve the other cup of chicken for another use.
Stovetop Instructions (1 hr 15 min)
- Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the carrots, onion, and celery for 6 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a large wooden spoon.
- Add all the dried spices, except the bay leaves, to the Dutch oven. Cook the spices for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. This is called blooming the spices.
- Turn the heat to medium high and deglaze the pan. Do this by pouring in a little bit of chicken broth and scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven with a wooden turner.
- Mix in the shredded chicken back into the pot along with the chicken broth and 4 bay leaves.
- Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Skim off any fat from the top of the soup with a large metal spoon and discard it. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Remove the 4 bay leaves with a slotted metal spoon.
- Turn off the heat and remove the soup from the heat. Pour in the evaporated milk and stir in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Follow steps 1 to 3 from the stovetop instructions above.
- Mix together the shredded chicken, onion mixture, chicken broth, and bay leaves to a 6-quart crock pot.
- Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Remove bay leaves and skim off any fat.
- Turn off the crockpot, then pour in the evaporated milk and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- Cook noodles separately and serve them with the soup.
Cooking the Noodles & Serving
- Cook 2 ½ cups (153g) of wide egg noodles for 5-7 minutes in a pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasionally. Drain the noodles, then toss them in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.
- To serve, place some noodles in the bottom of an empty bowl, then ladle the soup on top. Serve warm with a garnish of freshly chopped parsley, grated Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.
- For the best flavor and health benefits, make your own chicken broth.
- To give the broth more color, leave the onion skins on.
- Use bone in chicken thighs, brown them first, then cook in broth, if you don't want to use a whole chicken.
- To keep the noddle from getting soggy, separate them from the soup.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: homemade, from scratch