Chicken soup is a comforting classic, and this creamy recipe is a family favorite! With tender chicken, hearty egg noodles, garlic, herbs, and more, it’s The Best Chicken Noodle Soup ever!
My Family’s Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup
Guys, I don’t want to brag. I am being totally sincere when I say that this is the best chicken noodle soup ever! I have been making and feeding this soup to my family for years, taking it to tailgates, and bringing it over to friends who are under the weather… and the comment I always hear is, “That is the best chicken noodle soup!”
So just what makes it so good, you may be wondering. It’s not any special magic of my own – anyone can make this simple recipe. It’s just the perfect balance of flavors, from garlic to bay leaves to slow-simmered chicken, with some creamy goodness (from real heavy cream!) to put it over the top.
Feeling hungry yet? Me too, actually. Let’s make some soup!
For ingredients, the most important thing to remember is that bone-in chicken makes the best chicken noodle soup. I use two whole chickens, but you could substitute bone-in thighs, drumsticks, breasts, or a combination.
- Whole Chickens: Or a combination of bone-in chicken pieces.
- Onions: Peel and dice the onions.
- Italian Seasoning: This versatile seasoning has a little bit of everything. If you don’t have pre-made Italian seasoning on hand, you can use a mix of basil and oregano to mimic the flavor.
- Lemon: Slice up a lemon to add a bit of tangy brightness. Acid is so important in chicken soup!
- Garlic: I like a generous amount of minced, fresh garlic in my soup. You can dial it back or omit it entirely if you don’t care for garlicky chicken soup.
- Bay Leaves: These really add that classic chicken soup herbal note. Sage would also be good, if you don’t have bay leaves, or use half bay leaves and half sage.
- Chicken Bouillon Cubes: My secret weapon for a really rich-tasting broth! Substitute chicken base (such as Better Than Bouillon) if you prefer.
- Salt and Pepper: Kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper are my go-tos, but any salt and pepper will work.
- Vegetables: Carrots, celery, and mushrooms. You can use fresh or dried mushrooms. If you’re using dried, be sure to soak them to reconstitute them.
- Egg Noodles: You can use the curly ones, the straight ones, or even the tiny thin ones – whichever you like. Keep in mind that the very tiny ones cook really quickly.
- Parsley: Chopped parsley helps keep things light and fresh.
- Sherry: Want to know a secret? I use cooking sherry. I do. You can also use regular sherry, or substitute some white wine for a slightly different taste.
- Rosemary: The Italian seasoning may contain a bit of rosemary already, but I still like to add some fresh rosemary for a pungent, woodsy taste. It’s fantastic with chicken.
- Parmesan: In chicken soup? You betcha! Freshly grated is best – pre-shredded parm can be hard to dissolve in soup.
- Heavy Cream: Half and half will also work, but it won’t be as richly creamy.
Which Noodles Are Best for Chicken Noodle Soup?
Egg noodles are sort of the traditional choice for chicken soup, at least in the U.S. However, if you don’t have any egg noodles, this soup is also great with regular pasta tossed in and cooked until tender. Smallish pasta shapes like rotini and fusilli are good options, or take some long pasta like spaghetti or linguine and break it into inch-long pieces.
How to Make the Best Chicken Noodle Soup
The process for making this recipe is straightforward, but since it’s an old-fashioned approach that includes making your own broth (no shortcuts when making the best chicken noodle soup!), you’ll need to budget time for that. Make sure to read over the recipe once or twice before you dive in, so you don’t get stuck making broth when you need to be somewhere else!
- Cook the Chicken. Going down the list, measure and add all of the ingredients to a big soup pot, up to and including the salt and pepper. Set this over medium heat, and add some extra water if needed, so that the chickens are completely covered. Let the chicken simmer for one hour, or until tender and done through.
- Cool the Chicken. Remove both chickens from the pot, and place them on a rimmed cutting board so that you can catch the juices and pour them back into the pot. Let them cool down, and then debone them, shredding the meat and discarding the skin and bones (or saving them to make homemade stock).
- Cook the Vegetables in the Broth. Meanwhile, strain the broth through a colander into a large bowl, throwing away any solids. Pour the broth back into the pot, as well as any juices caught from the chickens as they cool. Bring the broth to a low boil, and add carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cook these for 10-12 minutes.
- Add the Noodles. Add your egg noodles, and cook them until al dente (you can follow the directions on the package for specific cooking times).
- Finish the Soup! Last, stir in the shredded chicken, parsley, sherry, rosemary, Parmesan, and cream. Cook for about 5 minutes longer, and then enjoy!
Does Chicken Soup Taste Better the Longer You Cook It?
That’s kind of a yes-and-no question. The issue is, are you making chicken soup with stock, or chicken soup with broth?
Chicken stock is made by cooking chicken bones (and skin, and sometimes veggies) in water for a long time. Chicken broth is made by cooking the actual chicken meat (as well as bones, usually).
While broth and stock both get richer and richer the longer you cook them, the problem is that the chicken meat will dry out and get tough if you let it go too long. Vegetables will also have an unpleasant texture if you overcook them, turning mushy and falling apart.
So if you’re making soup using chicken broth, like I do in this recipe, don’t overcook it or the chicken won’t have a good texture. If you’re making homemade chicken stock, feel free to cook it for hours and hours before you strain it and use it.
Every cook has their tips and tricks for making the best chicken soup, but there’s no gatekeeping here – I’m sharing all of mine! Here are a few more things you should know about this recipe:
- Chicken Juices: The juices that drip from the chickens while they cool are sooo flavorful. Don’t waste them – catch them and add them back to the pot! You can use a rimmed cutting board, or place them on a rack in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan.
- Chicken Doneness: You can tell that the chicken is done when the leg and thigh jiggle loosely, the juices run clear, and there’s no pink (brownish is fine) when you cut into the meat down to the bone. Or just use a meat thermometer! The safe temperature for chicken is 165F.
- Ingredient Amounts: I like to make a really big batch of soup, using two whole chickens, so that I can freeze half and pull it out when needed. If you don’t want to make that big of a batch, just cut the ingredient amounts in half to make a normal dinner-sized amount.
What to Serve with Chicken Noodle Soup
To me, chicken noodle soup is a meal in a bowl – but of course, it does go really well with lots of side dishes. Here are a few easy side dishes to try:
- Cornbread: A serving of this Gluten Free Sweet Potato Cornbread is so wholesome and more-ish. You’ve got to try it! And the subtle sweetness is really pleasant with creamy chicken noodle soup.
- Salad: A leafy salad is always nice, but for something a little different, try making this Asparagus Broccoli Salad. It’s hearty, satisfying, and packed with nutrition.
- Veggie Tart: A wedge of Zucchini Cheese Tart makes a bistro-like meal out of creamy chicken noodle soup.
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating
So what do you do with your leftovers? Well, I always make extra and have several batches in the freezer, to pull out when needed. You can also refrigerate it for short-term storage.
- Refrigerate: Cover the soup well or transfer to airtight containers, and refrigerate for 3 – 4 days.
- Freeze: To freeze, just cool the soup down, pour it into freezer containers (leave a little room for it to expand), and freeze for 3 months or so. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Reheat: Heat the soup back up on the stove over medium heat, or in your microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each 30-second session.
The Best Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 whole chickens
- 7 quarts of water
- 2 onions peeled and diced
- 4 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 lemon sliced
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 4 bay leaves
- 6 chicken bouillon cubes
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 4 cups sliced carrots
- 4 cups sliced celery
- 1 bag of egg noodles
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (if dried reconstituted)
- 6 tablespoon parsley chopped
- 2/3 cup cooking sherry
- 4 teaspoon rosemary chopped
- 2 cups grated Parmesan
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Add all ingredients up to kosher salt and pepper to a large pot over medium heat.
- Add extra water if needed so that chickens are completely covered.
- Cook for one hour or until chicken is tender. Chicken should no longer have any pink inside (you can cut with knife to judge, or use a meat themometer to make sure the chicken reaches 165°F).
- Remove chickens and place on a rimmed cutting board so you can catch juices from chickens and add them back to the pot.
- Once chickens are cooled, remove skin and shred meat. (You can use bones and skin to make homemade chicken stock)
- Strain broth through a colander into a large bowl, throwing away solids.
- Place broth back into stock pot, as well as any juices you caught while chickens cooled.
- Bring broth to a low boil and add carrots, celery and mushrooms cooking for 10 – 12 minutes.
- Add noodles and cook until al dente (follow directions on package).
- Stir in shredded chicken, parsley, sherry, rosemary, parmesan and cream for about 5 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
- To catch juice and broth from chickens while they cool, place chickens on wire rack that is sitting inside a rimmed baking sheet. The deeper the baking sheet the better, as there may be quite a bit of juice released from chickens.
- This is a double recipe so that you will have plenty to freeze. Cut the ingredient amounts in half if you do not want extra to freeze.