Introduction: Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Whenever I go to visit my grandmother, I always hope that she has made her homemade chicken noodle soup for me and my family. Unfortunately, she lives in Toledo, Ohio, and I live in Charlottesville, Virginia...which is a 9 hour drive, on a good day. Needless to say I don’t get to see her too often.

One day in high school, I was really wanting chicken noodle soup. I didn’t want the canned kind, which is awfully high in sodium and just doesn’t have that homemade taste. So I decided to make my own!

In this recipe I use store-bought chicken stock. You can certainly use whatever brand you prefer, or if you like to make your own stock feel free to do so! I personally don’t because as a college student it isn’t too feasible to make my own stock.

This recipe also features a way to cook the chicken for the soup beforehand so it can easily be frozen and used whenever you’d like some soup!

WARNING: You'll be handling raw chicken in this recipe. Read up on safe practices here:

Step 1: Ingredients

128 fl. oz. of chicken stock

4 stalks of celery

4 large carrots

1 large red onion

2-3 cloves garlic (optional, to taste)

2 bay leaves

1 pinch of dried parsley

3-4 lbs of chicken breasts

An extra 4 cups of chicken stock, or water

1 lb bag/box of preferred noodles

salt and pepper

olive oil (or your preferred cooking oil)

Step 2: The Aromatics

Start with the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic. Be sure to wash the celery before you start slicing it, as it often has dirt around the bottom. Do the same for the carrots, but also peel them. Also make sure to remove the skin off of the onion and garlic, as these aren’t tasty additions to soup!

Slice the celery and carrots into approximately ¼ inch rounds, and dice the onion into small to medium pieces. Smash or press the garlic into a fine paste.

Note: If you aren’t sure how to dice an onion, here’s a link to a website that has really good instructions!

Note: If you aren’t sure how to mince garlic or if you don’t have a garlic press, here’s a website that shows how to do so with a fork!

Once all of the aromatics have been chopped or diced, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large soup pot, and turn the heat onto medium. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic to the oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cook the aromatics, stirring occasionally, until they are soft. You can usually tell this visually when the onions have turned translucent, but make sure to check the celery and carrots as well. They should give a little bit when you poke them with a spoon.

Once they are all soft, add 128 oz. of the chicken stock (make sure to retain about 4 cups). Turn back the heat to medium-low.

Step 3: The Herbs

Thankfully, the herbs don’t require any slicing or dicing. Add the bay leaves and dried parsley, along with some more salt and pepper if you prefer, to the stock. Allow it to simmer -- this is the longest part of the process. Usually I like to allow the stock to simmer for at least an hour or two, stirring occasionally, before I add the chicken, so I usually use this time to cook the chicken.

Step 4: The Chicken

While the stock is simmering, you can take this time to cook your chicken, or defrost it/heat it up if you made it beforehand. I prefer the method that I have described below, as I believe it makes the chicken tender and more flavorful, but you can cook the chicken however you like.

Take your chicken and wash it with some water, and then pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to a large pan, and cover with the 4 cups of retained stock. (Note: You can use water in this step, but I prefer to use stock as it is more flavorful.) Turn the heat on to medium and bring the stock to a boil. Allow the chicken to cook for 10-12 minutes or until there is no more pink. Once the chicken is cooked, transfer to a plate bowl, and allow to cool.

Note: If your chicken breasts are large, like mine are in the picture above, cut them in half or in quarters for a more even cooking time.

Once cool, start to shred it with two forks until you have pieces are of thin-to-medium thickness, like I have displayed in the picture.

Add some of the chicken to the stock and allow to simmer again, still stirring occasionally. Retain some of the chicken for consumption, as some people like more or less chicken in their bowls.

Step 5: The Noodles

The stock can sit for a few more hours or however long before you want to serve. I like to cook my noodles just before serving. I prefer extra-wide egg noodles in my soup, but you can use whichever type of noodles you prefer! Just make sure to follow the cooking directions! Also, make sure to cook your noodles separately from the stock.

Once the noodles are done cooking, I usually keep them separate from the stock and allow people to put however much they want in their bowls. Leftover noodles and chicken can go into the stock.

Note: Remove the bay leaves from the stock before serving.

The longer the soup sits, the more flavorful it will become!