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.
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
- Chili powder
- Curry powder
- Chipotle chiles in adobo
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.
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
- Potato, yellow or red
- Sweet potato
- Winter squash
- Broccoli or broccolini
- Green beans
- 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.
- Egg noodles
- Wagon wheels
- Brown rice
- Couscous, whole-wheat
- Wheat berries
- Black beans
- Cannellini or navy beans
- 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.
Herbs (1-3 Tbsp.)
Herb sauces (2-4 Tbsp.)
- Salsa Verde
Hot sauces (1-3 tsp.)
- Curry paste
Acid (1-3 Tbsp.)
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
Umami (1-3 Tbsp.)
- Fish sauce
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
Chicken Soup Recipes to Try
Classic Chicken Soup
Classic chicken noodle soup gets a healthy upgrade with low-sodium chicken broth, whole-wheat egg noodles and tons of vegetables.
Chipotle Chicken & Vegetable Soup
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!
Japanese-Inspired 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.
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.