The Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup

Total Time

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 45 min. + standing


10 servings (about 3-1/2 quarts)

Updated: Nov. 29, 2023
My first Wisconsin winter was so cold, all I wanted to eat was homemade chicken noodle soup. Of all the chicken noodle soup recipes out there, this type of soup is my favorite and is in heavy rotation from November to April. It has many incredibly devoted fans.—Gina Nistico, Denver, Colorado


  • 2-1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 10 cups chicken broth
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups uncooked kluski or other egg noodles (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Optional: Additional salt and pepper


  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken in batches, skin side down; cook until dark golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; remove and discard skin. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings.
  2. Add onion to drippings; cook and stir over medium-high heat until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Bring to a boil. Return chicken to pan. Add celery, carrots, bay leaves and thyme. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, 25-30 minutes.
  3. Transfer chicken to a plate. Remove soup from heat. Add noodles; let stand, covered, until noodles are tender, 20-22 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, when chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Return meat to stockpot. Stir in parsley and lemon juice. If desired, adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves.

Test Kitchen variations
  • Avgolemono (Greek Egg and Lemon Soup): Prepare soup as directed, substituting 2 cups of orzo pasta for the 3 cups of kluski noodles. Just before serving, whisk 4 large eggs with 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice. While whisking constantly, slowly add 2 cups of hot soup, preferably just the broth. Slowly stir hot egg mixture into soup; cook 4-5 minutes or until heated through but not boiling.
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup:Prepare soup as directed adding one undrained 28-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes when the celery and carrots are added. After removing chicken thighs, instead of adding the noodles, stir in 1 Tbsp. chili powder, 2 tsp. cumin and 1 thinly sliced jalapeno. Once shredded chicken has been added back to the soup, stir in 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro and 1/4 fresh lime juice. Serve with crushed tortilla chips, chopped avocado, cilantro leaves, thinly sliced radishes and lime wedges.
  • Posole-Style Chicken Soup: Prepare soup as directed, adding three 4-oz. cans of undrained diced green chiles. Replace noodles with 3 cups cooked hominy. Just before serving, stir in ¼ cup fresh oregano leaves and 2-3 cups shredded Napa cabbage.
  • The Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup Tips

    What can I add to chicken noodle soup for even more flavor?

    Cooking your chicken in broth gives it great flavor. But to kick it up a notch, stir in one tablespoon of chicken bouillon granules. Tip: save your chicken bones and vegetable scraps to make broth for your next soup!

    How do you keep chicken tender?

    To prevent your chicken from drying out, remove it from the broth when tender. Let cool, shred and set aside while you finish making your soup. Then, return the chicken to the hot soup when you're ready to eat. You can also try velveting your chicken to give it extra tenderness!

    Can I make this soup with chicken breasts?

    Yes! If you prefer, replace the chicken thighs with bone-in chicken breasts. Once they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, set the chicken on a plate, let cool and shred. Use up the rest of your chicken breasts with these easy chicken breast recipes!

    Is chicken noodle soup good for you?

    Not only is chicken noodle soup a feel-good dish, it’s good for you, too! It’s loaded with protein and vegetables and will keep you hydrated when you're feeling sick. If you're feeling under the weather, warm up with these foods to eat when you're feeling sick!

    Nutrition Facts

    1-1/3 cups: 239 calories, 12g fat (3g saturated fat), 68mg cholesterol, 1176mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 2g fiber), 18g protein.