Chicken soup is as adaptable a dish as can be—and as simple, too. With just a few ingredients plucked from your pantry and fridge, you can put together a soup that’s hearty, satisfying and so much more than its humble parts. Although we love the classic combo of chicken and noodles, free yourself to think beyond.
Begin with the ingredients you need to use up or have in abundance. Are there some vegetables snoozing away in the crisper? Have a wholesale-size bag of rice in the pantry? All are fair game! Just start with this solid framework for building a soup, created and tested by the experts in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens, then improvise to your heart’s content.
To make a chicken soup, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of cooking fat (butter or oil), 1 package of boneless, skinless chicken (approximately 20 oz), 1 3/4 to 3 cups vegetables, 1 carton of Progresso™ chicken broth (or 4 cups of homemade ), 3 oz of starch, plus toppings to suit your taste.
- In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking fat.
- Cut 1 package (approximately 20 oz) boneless, skinless chicken in 3/4-inch pieces. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to the pot and brown; remove to bowl.
- Add to the pot a combination of 1 3/4 to 3 cups of chopped vegetables, determining when to add each vegetable based on whether it is a long- or short-cooking vegetable.
- Add 1 carton of Progresso™ (or 4 cups of homemade) chicken broth and then add seasoning if desired; bring to a boil.
- Add 3 oz of your selected starch (rice, noodles, etc.) and the browned chicken; reduce heat; simmer until the starch is tender.
- Add any short-cooking vegetables.
- To finish, top as desired.
Feeling that bone-deep craving for homemade chicken soup? Select your favorite ingredients from the list of possibilities below.
- Fat: Vegetable oil, olive oil, butter
- Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- Long-cooking vegetables: Onion, celery, carrots, garlic, red pepper, mushrooms
- Liquid: Progresso™ broth or homemade chicken broth
- Seasoning: Salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, dried thyme, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning
- Starch: Egg noodles, short pasta, long-grain rice, quick-cooking barley, tortellini
- Short-cooking vegetables: Tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, frozen peas, corn, canned green chiles
- Toppings: Croutons, shredded cheese, chopped parsley, chopped green onion, tortilla chips, bacon
It’s time to get the soup on! This recipe for Classic Chicken Noodle Soup was developed using Betty’s infallible any-ingredient framework.
1. In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat; season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in oil 6 to 8 minutes, stirring once, until chicken is browned on outside. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl; cover and keep warm.
2. Add onion, carrot and celery to oil and drippings in Dutch oven; cook over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
3. Stir in chicken broth; heat to boiling. Stir in egg noodles and the browned chicken; return to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender.
4. Serve soup topped with parsley and croutons.
These expert tips will help ensure that your pot of chicken soup comes out stellar, every time.
- Either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs work well in this recipe.
- When cutting chicken, be sure to cut pieces the same size, so they cook evenly.
- Pat chicken pieces dry with a paper towel before adding to hot cooking fat. This will help the chicken brown.
- Browning the chicken first before adding liquid adds flavor and color to the chicken.
- Short on time? Rotisserie or Slow-Cooker Make-Ahead Chicken would be great to use in the soup, though the process would be slightly different. Since the chicken is already cooked, it would not need to be browned. Instead, it would be added directly to the liquid.
- When choosing vegetables, consider if they are a longer cooking or a shorter cooking. How long the vegetables cook determines when they get added to the soup.
- Longer-cooking vegetables like onion, carrot, and celery benefit from being added to hot cooking fat. This allows them time to cook through and become soft and tender.
- Shorter-cooking vegetables, like frozen corn or canned tomatoes, don’t need a long time to cook. They can be added at the same time as the starch.
- Vegetables that only need to wilt or soften, like fresh spinach, should be added right at the end of the cooking process.
- Cut your vegetables into roughly bite-size pieces—and make sure they’re uniform in size, so they cook evenly and fit on your soup spoon!
- Try using your favorite spices and seasonings to vary the flavor of the soup. Add these at the same time as the chicken broth.
- Dried herbs and spices are more concentrated in flavor and work better than fresh in a soup recipe.
- If you do want to use fresh herbs, it’s best to use them as a garnish chopped and sprinkled over each bowl right before serving.
- You can use different types of starches, like egg noodles or rice but be sure to use 3 oz of starch. Since noodles weigh less, you’ll need 1 ½ cups. Rice is heavier, so you’ll only need a ½ cup.
- Consider the kind of starch you are using and how long it takes to cook since times can vary. Egg noodles take 8 to 10 minutes to become tender, while rice can take 23 to 28 minutes to become tender.
- The starch is added after the broth has come to a boil and been reduced to a simmer. This ensures that the starch cooks just until done and doesn’t become overcooked or mushy. (Pro tip: If you plan to have leftovers, boil your starch in a separate pot to ensure brothy soup for days to come.)
- If the soup seems too thick, just add extra broth. If you’re out of broth, water will work too. Then, continue cooking until the additional liquid has had time to heat up.
Our kitchen experts developed a Tex-Mex version of chicken soup using this framework. Give it a try, if you want to gain a little experience before making up your own recipe.