Need help choosing starch for chicken soup

I found the best tasting homemade chicken soup recipe but keep forgetting the pearl or Israeli couscous it says to add. Usually just add whatever pasta I have left over... Elbows, orzo or bow tie pasta. Once again, I forgot the couscous but would like opinions on the 3 types of starches I have on hand today. Enriched wide egg noodles, elbow or bow tie semolina pasta or matzo meal to make- what else? Lol....matzo balls. Asking for as much as chef suggestions to as little, but no less important- personal preferences.

Christine Vichi


Kristen W. January 11, 2021
Wide egg noodles are a childhood thing for me, so unless the flavor profile of the broth indicates otherwise I would always choose egg noodles!.
Miss_Karen January 10, 2021
I vote for either barley or Acini de Pepe. Soba noodles have a bizzare texture in my opinion....
702551 January 9, 2021
I'm not a big fan of putting bowtie pasta in soup. The folds, nooks & crannies are designed to trap a thicker sauce, much like fusilli, cavatappi and penne rigate. But hey, it's your dinner table not mine.

For other noodles I suggest you look outside the narrow European-centric confines and consider non-Italian noodles such as soba, udon, and ramen.

If you want to stick with Italian pasta, another classic usage would be "ravioli in brodo." Ravioli are already a clever way to extend a filling to serve many and putting them in broth is a centuries-old practice.

That leads to another starch you did not mention: dumplings. Again, this is another peasant dish designed to stretch a meager pantry into something more substantial.

The Austrians have some lovely super-traditional consomme garnishes including shredded crepes or dumplings.

Another glaring starch omission is rice. Practically every society on this planet grows some sort of grain crop and leftover cooked grain has been included in soup for millennia. Cans of Campbells Chicken & Rice vanished from the canned soup aisle during early months of COVID-19 but I assure you that people all over the planet have been adding rice to broth for a lot longer than Campbells Soup Company's existence.

And then there are potatoes...
Christine V. January 9, 2021
Thank you for your reply.. I know “ramen” well. “Udon”-I have heard of, probably unknowingly tasted, but “soba” is a mystery to me. Thanks to you I have 1 more ingredient to try and possibly love. I know rice, many different types but I tend to prefer a hearty mouthful of starch in my soups and unless it’s a chowder-don’t like potatoes. In the future, ravioli is definitely something I am going to try. Thank you for your time.
702551 January 9, 2021
"Soba" is a pretty wide Japanese term for noodles, just like "pasta".

Traditionally soba was made from buckwheat flour and purists still think of "soba" this way. Ramen is actually a relative newcomer. The Japanese often call it "chuka soba" which is literally "Chinese noodles".

"Ramen" = trendy New Wave. "Soba" = old school. There are soba shops in Japan that are 500+ years old.

Another starch that I didn't mention was bread. The classic soup -- now super trendy and ridiculously overpriced in Italian restaurants in the USA -- is ribollita. Like so many of these peasant soups, this is just stretching out leftover stale bread to feed a bunch of mouths.

Every single starch on this planet has been tossed into broth by someone at some point in this planet's history. Most of them have actual names and long traditions of adoption.
702551 January 9, 2021
Since I'm in a Japanese mindset I will mention "ozoni" since it is seasonally relevant right now.

This is a broth (usually Japanese "dashi") with toasted mochi (rice cake) that is a traditional New Years dish. Mochi could easily be tossed into chicken broth instead of the traditional bonito/kelp-based broth.

If you want to stick with Europe, there are scads of traditional preparations. An old reference like Larousse Gastronomique or better yet "Le Repertoire de la Cuisine".

One example: consomme Princesse: "des de royale a la puree de pois, orge perle, lamelles de blanc de volailles". So diced green pea puree custard, pearled barley and chicken breast pieces. Again a grain variant, very old school.

"Le Rep" has 7+ pages of this classic garnish listings for Consommes Clairs.
Happygoin January 9, 2021
I’m a wide egg noodle fan, but having said that, I’d never turn down a good matzo ball soup. Pasta, not so much. Just personal preference.
Christine V. January 9, 2021
Thank you for taking the time to express your preferences. I agree that basic pasta just doesn’t do the soup justice but since I am NOT an egg noodle fan, I am going with the matzo balls. Praying they float like my grams did. Lol. Wish me luck.
Happygoin January 9, 2021
Lol, even a mediocre matzo ball isn’t a bad thing. Good luck!
Nancy January 10, 2021
Agree. Regular matzo balls are nothing to sneer at. If you want to make variations, there are recipes for them using root vegetables (good in winter) or stuffed (with beef, chicken or apples).
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