Simplest Chicken Noodle Soup

January 14, 2019

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Chicken noodle soup doesn’t get simpler than this: chicken and noodles. While a lot of chicken stock recipes include a slew of vegetables (onion, carrot, celery), spices (peppercorns, cloves, coriander), and herbs (parsley, thyme, bay leaves), this one lets the chicken do the talking. And it has so much to say. Seasoning at the end with salt and schmaltz (that golden rendered fat) yields a pure stock that would be wonderful in any recipe, but especially noodle soup. I like extra-wide egg noodles, boiled in salty water and added directly to the bowl so they don't get soggy. If you have some fresh herbs or cooked vegetables around, feel free to add those, too. But know that you don’t need them.

Emma Laperruque

Food52 Review: This is one of our Big Little Recipes. Read more here: The Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup Only Needs 2 Ingredients.The Editors

Serves: 4 (plus some leftover shredded chicken and schmaltz)
Prep time: 12 hrs
Cook time: 4 hrs 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 1/2–pound) chicken
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste and for noodle-boiling
  • 12 ounces extra-wide egg noodles
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Take a peek inside your chicken. There’s probably a little bag in the cavity, with the neck and giblets. Reserve the neck and toss the rest (or freeze for later if that’s your thing). Cut the chicken into 8 to 12 roughly equal-sized pieces. (Alternatively, you can kindly ask your butcher to do this—it does save a lot of cleanup.) Add those pieces plus the neck to the biggest pot you’ve got.
  2. Slowly pour the water on top of the chicken in the pot. (Doing this too quickly can cause a raw-chicken splash zone—not what we want.) Set the pot on the stove, partially cover with a lid (so there’s a slight crack for steam to escape), and turn up the heat to high, until the liquid reaches a confident simmer. Adjust the heat as needed to simmer the chicken for about 25 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. (Some scrum might rise to the top at this point. Just remove with a spoon and discard.)
  3. When the chicken has cooked, turn off the heat. Use metal tongs to remove all the pieces from the pot and set on a plate or platter. When it’s cool enough to handle, use your hands to pull the meat from the bones. (No need to shred into bite-sized pieces now—we can do that later.) When all the meat has been removed, add all the bones and skin back to the pot of water.
  4. With the pot partially covered, simmer the stock for 3 to 4 hours, until golden and reduced to 8 cups of liquid or so. Check every so often to make sure it’s simmering; depending on your stove, it may fluctuate from not simmering at all to downright boiling (neither of which is the goal), so adjust the heat as needed.
  5. When the stock is ready, carefully pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a big heatproof bowl, pot, or other vessel that can hold about 8 cups of liquid. Really press on those bones to get all liquid and flavor out of them. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely chilled.
  6. When it’s completely chilled, there should be a layer of fat on top (good!) and the stock’s consistency should be ultra-gelatinous, like jelly (great!). Use a spoon to gingerly transfer the fat to a separate jar. You can refrigerate this fat for up to 5 days or freeze for months.
  7. When you’re ready to eat soup: Set a large pot of water over high heat to come to a boil. When it does, generously salt (I estimate about 1 tablespoon salt per quart water), and add the egg noodles. Cook for about 5 minutes or until just al dente, since they’ll continue to cook in the hot broth.
  8. While the water is coming to a boil, heat the stock over medium-high heat. And while the stock is heating up, shred the chicken. For the full amount of stock (8ish cups), you’ll want about 1 pound of shredded chicken (for 4 bowls of soup). Psst: This means you’ll probably have some leftover chicken; save for chicken-salad sandwiches later on!
  9. When the broth is hot, season it: Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt, stir. Add 1 tablespoon chicken fat, stir. Taste. At this point, I personally added another 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon chicken fat; maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Just keeping tasting and seasoning, tasting and seasoning, until you love it. Yay!
  10. Add the shredded chicken to the seasoned stock.
  11. When the noodles are done cooking, use a slotted spoon to divide them evenly between 4 big soup bowls. Ladle the chicken and its broth on top of each, again dividing evenly.

More Great Recipes:
Stock|Soup|American|Noodle|Chicken|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Dinner|Lunch

Reviews (8) Questions (0)

8 Reviews

kantcould January 20, 2019
I see no reason to make a fetish out of good chicken stock when rotisserie chicken is so readily available (often at bargain prices) at big box wholesale stores as well as most local supermarkets. Not only is dinner ready when you walk in the door, simple and excellent chicken broth is a natural by-product. Just save all the remnants from chicken dinner (including the drippings congealed in the package) and strip the meat from any unconsumed chicken and set aside. To maximize bone broth produced by the carcass use a cleaver or heavy chef's knife to crush the large bones and chop smaller bones still smaller. Any remnant exposed skin that got "rotisserized" is an extra. Just toss all this in an ample cookpot, add water to cover and any desired flavorings of choice (eg onions, celery, parsley). Cover pot, place over low heat and walk away from it. When the aroma fills the kitchen, turn it off and let it sit until cool enough to decant.
 
tastysweet January 25, 2019
I have used the Costco rotisserie chicken. Best Buy on the market. What I have done is to put the carcass, which has the unused chicken bits and skin in my slow cooker. Add water or stock or boxed good bone broth, with carrots, celery, large chopped onion with skin, black peppercorns, salt, dried basil and whole cloves. I cook it for 12 hours then strain(which to me is the hardest and messiest). <br />You could then poach some fresh thighs and or breasts in this soup. Or freeze stock for use later.
 
Fran M. January 20, 2019
I have to say I save my bones. Throw them in the crockpot overnight on low with the onion, garlic, celery, carrots. I get a fabulous broth. No trouble. I refrigerate the broth. Skimming off all of the hardened fat. And I wind up wit a delicious broth to start my soup with. I don’t like fatty soup. It’s very flavorful also.
 
sean January 15, 2019
If i may throw a few tidbits out there concerning this recipe. I am a chef, have been for a long time and I am confused by this recipe. First off, even with a whole chicken your broth should not take 5 hours to make. Even if you added in whole carrots, a roughly chopped onion, garlic and other aromatics and strained them out of the broth 40 minutes later....it STILL only takes 2 hours to make the broth. So, lets set reasonable expectations for your readership. #2 boiling the chicken and then leaving it for a day kills the flavor in the chicken meat itself AND no matter what you do the chicken will be dry and tasteless the next day. Third and probably most important, removing the fat from the broth REMOVES flavor.....precisely what your recipe advertises it dosen't do and I dont know about you but a tablespoon of fat is going to add nothing discernible to the broth....3 or 4 tbsp may, but one will do nothing. So to sum up my opinion....way to much time to prepare, dry chicken and less flavor than advertised. Why dont you try making chicken soup first before you make more work for yourselves "deconstructing" a very easy, simple and flavorful soup to begin with.
 
Annie January 16, 2019
I agree with Sean. I believe many wouldn’t venture making chicken soup after reading your recipe. Soup is souper (haha) easy to make! Basicly, everything in the pot, and viola, soup! And you mention throwing away the overcooked chicken in your article-what a sin. A home chef would truly use it for more dishes, ie: pot pie, chicken salad.
 
Joan S. January 17, 2019
Actually the recipe reads " simmer the chicken for about 25 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through," after which you put it on a plate to cool, Pull the meat off the bones and shred for later. Then put bones back in the pot for 3 to 4 hours. The shredded chicken is added at the end, step 10. The recipe also mentions putting fat back, step 9, but you don't have to remove the fall to begin with, if you don't want. I have made chicken soup that had way too much fat and that doesn't taste good either. But you may not like slow cooking like I do. I have been using Michael Ruhlman's Turkey stock recipe which can take up to 12 hours and I loved that recipe so I thought I would give this one a try. I do like the way the recipe calls for cooking the noodles separate. I did learn that trick from Mother, cooking the noodle in the stock make the stock cloudy and thick.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. January 17, 2019
Hi Sean! Stock is one of those classic recipes with a million and one versions, so I totally get you having your own approaches. Couple thoughts: I personally didn't find that cooking the chicken, then refrigerating it, caused any dryness or flavor issues—but if you're worried about that, you can always store the chicken in some of the stock, or even some of the chicken fat. And I agree that removing chicken fat removes flavor! Hence the instruction in step #9 to add it back, to taste. I like giving people the opportunity to make the stock taste exactly how they want it to. For me, a few big spoonfuls brings more than enough flavor and richness, but other people might want more or less.
 
tastysweet January 25, 2019
I learned the hard way regarding cooking the noodles in the soup. Soaked up practically all my liquid. Add after cooking. Or like this recipe, put into bowls then add soup.