5 Ingredients or Fewer

Simplest Chicken Noodle Soup

January 14, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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

Watch This Recipe
Simplest Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Prep time 12 hours
  • Cook time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 (plus some leftover shredded chicken and schmaltz)
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.

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Review
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter.