How to Make the Best Chicken Soup, According to Our Test Kitchen

With just five simple steps, you'll have a bowl of warm and hearty deliciousness.

We've simmered down our favorite technique for making super-flavorful chicken soup into 5 simple steps. Follow this plan and you'll be serving up bowls of soup brimming with vegetables and fiber with a fraction of the sodium found in traditional soups. Start with a classic combination of carrots, celery, peas and egg noodles or go for a different blend of vegetables and seasonings to create your new favorite chicken soup.

Whether you go for the chicken noodle or have a taste for fiery Moroccan-inspired soup, we've got you covered. Every great pot starts with garlic, onions, bone-in chicken breast and low-sodium broth. From there, make it your own with your favorite mix of herbs, spices, vegetables, grains and/or beans.

bowls of chicken soup
Andrew Scrivani

5 Steps for Making Chicken Soup

Step 1. Lay the base

The best soups start with a combination of aromatic vegetables cooked in oil to bring out their flavor. To start, heat 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat; add 1 cup chopped onion and 2 large minced garlic cloves. Cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 to 4 tsp. seasonings. Cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes more.



  • Bay leaf
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme


  • Allspice
  • Cayenne
  • Chili powder
  • Chipotle
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Paprika


  • Chipotle chiles in adobo
  • Ginger
  • Lemongrass

Step 2. Hack "homemade" broth

Save time by using boxed or canned broth (look for low-sodium options with about 150 mg sodium per cup). Make it taste like homemade stock by cooking the chicken for the soup in the broth before adding other ingredients. Pour 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth into the pot with the seasonings. Add 2 lb. bone-in chicken breasts (without skin); simmer until cooked through (165°F on an instant-read thermometer), 20 to 22 minutes. While it cooks, skim any foam from the surface to keep the broth clear. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board to cool, then shred or chop into bite-size pieces.

making chicken soup
Andrew Scrivani

Step 3. Load it with vegetables

A bowl of soup can be a great way to help you get more vegetables into your day. Add 6 to 8 cups vegetables to the broth after you take out the chicken. Return to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 10 minutes.

Vegetables (fresh or frozen, thawed)


  • Bell pepper
  • Celeriac
  • Potato, yellow or red
  • Rutabaga
  • Sweet potato
  • Turnip
  • Winter squash


  • Broccoli or broccolini
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes


  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini or summer squash


  • Corn kernels
  • Shelled peas

Step 4. Bump up the fiber

Add 3 cups cooked whole grains or 11/2 cups cooked beans (or one 15-oz. can rinsed beans) to the pot. Stir in the chicken, 11/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook until heated through.


Whole-wheat pasta

  • Egg noodles
  • Fusili
  • Macaroni
  • Orzo
  • Spaghetti
  • Wagon wheels


  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous, whole-wheat
  • Farro
  • Freekeh
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Wheat berries


  • Black beans
  • Cannellini or navy beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans

Step 5. Go for big flavor

Just before serving, add one more layer of flavor. You can add a pop of freshness with something as simple as chopped parsley or a squeeze of lime. For a more complex finish, stir in some pesto or chile paste.

Flavor Boost:

Herbs (1-3 Tbsp.)

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon

Herb sauces (2-4 Tbsp.)

  • Chimichurri
  • Pesto
  • Salsa Verde

Hot sauces (1-3 tsp.)

  • Chile-garlic
  • Curry paste
  • Harissa
  • Sriracha

Acid (1-3 Tbsp.)

  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Vinegar

Umami (1-3 Tbsp.)

  • Fish sauce
  • Miso
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari

Chicken Soup Recipes to Try

01 of 05

Classic Chicken Soup

Classic Chicken Soup

Classic chicken noodle soup gets a healthy upgrade with low-sodium chicken broth, whole-wheat egg noodles and tons of vegetables.

02 of 05

Chipotle Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Chipotle Chicken

This healthy chicken and vegetable soup recipe is perfect for when you're in the mood for comfort food and Mexican food all in one!

03 of 05

Japanese-Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

Japanese Chicken Noodle Soup

This healthy, Japanese-inspired chicken noodle soup recipe is made with udon noodles and gets a hit of umami flavor from a swirl of miso at the end.

04 of 05

Moroccan-Inspired Chicken & Sweet Potato Soup

Moroccan Chicken Sweet Potato Soup

This healthy chicken soup recipe gets bold Moroccan flavor from sweet potatoes, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and a touch of harissa.

05 of 05

Pesto Chicken & Cannellini Bean Soup

Pesto Chicken & Cannellini Bean Soup

This healthy, Italian-inspired chicken soup recipe is loaded with fiber-rich vegetables and beans and gets an extra boost of flavor from a swirl of pesto at the end.

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