This whole chicken noodle soup is made from scratch with a whole chicken. The secret to the best chicken noodle soup: a rich and flavorful slow-simmered chicken broth. Chopped carrots, celery, garlic, and onion are butter sauteed with dried Italian herbs and then added to the soup along with delicate pasta and tender shredded chicken (from the slow-cooked whole chicken).
What I Love About This Recipe
I love that this recipe is made from scratch using a whole chicken. The slow-simmered chicken broth is so rich, flavorful, and perfect for cold and flu season. This chicken noodle soup reheats well on the stovetop, so I can eat this recipe for several days after.
- Dried pasta: Any type of pasta works for this chicken noodle soup: egg noodle, fusilli, elbow, cavatappi no. 87 (what I used in this recipe), etc because the pasta is cooked separately then added at the end. Use whatever dried pasta you have on hand.
- Carrots: Use large carrots or baby carrots.
- Celery: Any type of celery works in this recipe. Don't use the leaf ends.
- Onion: I recommend sweet onion or brown onion.
- Fresh garlic: Use fresh garlic.
- Dried Italian herbs: Use dried Italian herbs or a blend of dried herbs. Alternatively, substitute fresh herbs for dried herbs. The best herbs for this soup are a combination of rosemary, oregano, and thyme.
- Whole chicken: For the best tasting broth, use a whole chicken or a whole chicken cut up into pieces.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Chicken Noodle Soup From Scratch
Make the chicken broth by adding 10 cups of water, a whole chicken, salt, bay leaves, and a whole onion (peeled and halved). Bring the whole chicken to a boil then turn the stovetop on medium-low heat. Simmer covered for about 2 hours until the chicken starts to fall apart. The broth will have a rich color.
While the homemade chicken broth is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Peel and chop the carrots. Chop the celery. Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Saute the onions and garlic in butter until soft on medium-high heat. Add the celery and carrots and cover with a lid for about 5 minutes until partially cooked.
Add in the freshly cracked black pepper, salt, and dried Italian herbs. Mix and set aside.
Once the homemade chicken broth (and chicken) is finished, strain the chicken broth from the chicken.
Tip: The chicken needs a few minutes to cool down before you can remove the meat from the bones.
While the whole chicken is cooling, add the sauteed onions, carrots, and celery to the homemade chicken broth. Bring everything to a boil then simmer and cover for about 15 minutes until the carrots and celery are tender.
Add the dry pasta to salted boiling water. Cook as per the box until al dente (about 6 to 8 minutes for cavatappi and dried egg noodles).
Strain the pasta and set it aside. Using a fork, remove the meat from the whole chicken. Shred the chicken and set it aside.
Add the cooked (and drained) pasta and shredded chicken to the chicken broth and vegetable mixture.
Add some water if desired. Adjust the salt as needed.
Serve the chunky chicken noodle soup with a side of fresh french bread or garlic bread.
Tips and Tricks
Use a whole chicken. If you have never cooked with a whole chicken, now is the time my friend. Chicken noodle soup is as good as the broth, and the most flavorful broth comes from using whole chicken. Also, the slow-simmered meat is so tender and easy to remove from the bones.
Balance the ingredient ratios. I noticed over the years that the best chicken noodle soup is one that has the right balance of ratios. You don't need over-the-top ingredients, just the right ratios. If you notice, the amount of shredded chicken is just about as much as the cooked pasta. The amount of chopped carrots is the same as the chopped celery. These ratios guarantee the balance of flavor on your spoon.
Boil the pasta separately in water. The pasta absorbs a large amount of liquid, so if you add the pasta directly to the soup, it will soak up the soup. Add the cooked pasta to the soup.
Variations and Substitutions
- If you HAVE to only use chicken breast (and not a whole chicken) for this recipe here's how: buy a high-quality chicken bone broth from the store. Slow simmer the chicken breast in the store-bought broth with onion, bay leaves, and an onion. Shred the chicken and carry on the recipe.
- Soup liquid: I prefer my chicken noodle soup ultra chunky, so I add a minimal amount of additional liquid (water). If you like your soup with more broth, just increase the liquid gradually, tasting the salt and flavor.
- Substitute fresh herbs for dried herbs.
- Add red chili flakes for some spice.
- Use any type of pasta you have on hand. Boil the pasta separately from the soup as per the box.
- Use a large stovetop pot or Le Creuset dutch oven to slow simmer the whole chicken
- Use a strainer and large bowl to strain the soup broth from the whole chicken
- Chef's knife and cutting board to chop the vegetables
- Peeler to peel the carrots
- Wooden spoon
- Large nonstick frying pan to butter saute the carrots, celery, and onions
This hearty chicken noodle soup recipe reheats well in the microwave or on the stovetop. Store the soup in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. There are a couple of tips to note when reheating this soup:
- The "soup" may solidify into a jello-like form when in the fridge. This is perfectly normal and will return back to the soup once heated.
- The noodles may soak up some of the soup, so when reheating the soup, add a tad bit of water (like 1 cup of water per 2 cups of soup).
Yes, leave the skin intact when simmering the chicken to make the most flavorful broth. Once the chicken is tender and the broth is ready, remove the skin when shredding the chicken for the chicken noodle soup.
The key to great-tasting chicken noodle soup is a delicious chicken broth, which is made best with a whole chicken from scratch. However, a few things can be done to doctor up a bland chicken noodle soup such as butter sauteing the carrots and celery with fresh herbs (prior to adding to the soup), and using a chicken bouillon cube.
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Whole Chicken Noodle Soup From Scratch
Homemade Chicken Broth
- 1 whole chicken about 3 to 4 lbs
- 1 medium onion peeled and halved
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- 10 cups water see note 4
Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup
- About 3 cups of shredded chicken
- 8 ounces dry noodles this is HALF a 16 ounce pasta package **see note 1
- 2 cups water + more see note 4
- 6 celery stalks
- 5 large carrots
- 1 medium onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs see note 3
Make the Chicken Broth From Scratch
- Add the water, a whole chicken, salt, bay leaves, and a whole onion (peeled and halved). Bring the whole chicken to a simmer, then turn the stovetop to low heat. Simmer covered for about 2 hours until the chicken starts to fall apart.
- Separate the whole chicken from the broth using a strainer. Set the broth and chicken aside. You should have about 7 to 8 cups of homemade chicken broth.
Make the Chicken Noodle Soup
- Peel and chop the carrots, onion, and garlic. Chop the celery. In a pan on medium-high heat, butter sautee the onions and garlic. Once they start to soften, add the chopped celery and carrots. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes until the carrots and celery soften. Add the salt, pepper, and dried Italian herbs.
- Add the butter-sauteed vegetables to the homemade chicken broth. Simmer covered for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are easy to pierce with a fork.
- Boil the pasta in water until al dente as per the instructions on the box. Shred the chicken meat from the whole chicken. Remove the skin on the chicken. Drain the pasta.
- Add the shredded chicken and cooked pasta to the chicken broth. Add more water to the soup as desired. Adjust the salt.
- Use cavatappi no.87, fusilli, farfalle, or egg noodle. Any type of pasta works here. The recipe pictures used cavatappi noodles and the recipe video uses egg noodles.
- Boil the pasta separately before adding it to the soup so it doesn't soak up all of the chicken broth.
- Substitute 4 teaspoons of fresh herbs with 2 teaspoons of dried Italian herbs. Thyme, rosemary, and oregano are excellent in this soup.
- Soup liquid: Adjust to your preference. If you like a chunkier soup, don't add extra water. If you like more broth, add water gradually and taste the broth to adjust the salt level. You don't need to add box broth.