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

Carolyn Malcoun
January 17, 2021
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bowls of chicken soup
Credit: Andrew Scrivani

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.

Seasonings:

Dried

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

Ground

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

Minced

  • 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
Credit: 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)

Diced

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

Chopped

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

Sliced

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

Whole

  • 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.

Pasta/grains/beans

Whole-wheat pasta

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

Grains

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

Beans

  • 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

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