Rating: 4.5 stars
6 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 4
  • 4 star values: 2
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0

This slow-cooker chicken noodle soup fits nicely into the Mediterranean diet thanks to plenty of vegetables, lean chicken breast and whole-wheat pasta. Pair it with a salad and toasted whole-grain bread for an easy, healthy dinner.

EatingWell.com, November 2019

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Recipe Summary

active:
15 mins
total:
3 hrs 50 mins
Servings:
6
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Here's How We Made This Recipe Healthier

Soups tend to be high in sodium. To reduce the sodium content in this chicken noodle soup recipe, we opt for low-sodium broth, which has 40 milligrams of sodium per cup, as compared to regular broth, which has 530 mg per cup. We also cook the chicken in the broth (instead of adding already-cooked chicken), which infuses it with more savory flavor. Italian seasoning blend and fresh basil and parsley add even more flavor. Opting for whole-grain pasta over regular bumps up the fiber too—regular has 3 grams per 2-ounce serving while whole-wheat has 7 grams. 

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

You sure can! Either bone-in or boneless will work here, just remove any skin and trim the fat before adding to the slow cooker. If you use bone-in thighs, use 1¼ pounds (to account for the weight of the bones) and discard the bones when you shred the cooked meat.

Can I use leftover chicken?

What a great idea! So the chicken doesn't get mushy, skip adding it at the beginning of cooking. Instead, stir in 1 cup of shredded cooked chicken when you add the pasta. 

Can I use other vegetables? 

Yes, you can. Soup is actually a great way to use up leftover bits of vegetables in your refrigerator. You can add just about anything at the beginning of cooking, but if you want to use up cooked vegetables (say, some leftover roasted carrots) or some particularly soft veggies, such as peas, add those with the pasta in Step 2.

I don't have rotini pasta, can I use another shape?

Any shape will work here! What a great way to use up part of a box.

Can I make this chicken noodle soup recipe ahead of time?

Who doesn't love having leftover soup in the fridge? This one is a great candidate for making ahead of time, although, for the best results, we suggest cooking the rotini in a pot of boiling water and storing the cooked pasta separately. Pasta notoriously soaks up liquid, leaving you with mushy noodles. So at the end of Step 1, shred the chicken and stir back into the soup. Let the soup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the soup and pasta separately for up to 3 days. Add the cooked pasta to your soup as you reheat it. Or if you don't mind mushy noodles, you could add some more broth or a bit of water to thin the soup when you reheat it, if desired (to account for the liquid absorbed by the pasta).

Can I freeze this chicken noodle soup?

Yes, definitely. Again, we suggest skipping the pasta in the recipe. If you'll eat the entire batch when you reheat it, you can bring it to a simmer on the stove and then cook the pasta in it before serving. Otherwise, follow the advice above for cooking the pasta separately.

What are some other ways I can flavor this soup?

There are so many ways to season this soup. You could trade the Italian seasoning for curry powder, and serve with cilantro and mint instead of parsley and basil. Or leave it as is and stir in a spoonful of pesto to amp up the basil flavor. Taco seasoning would be another good alternative to the Italian seasoning. If you go that route, cilantro is a good substitute for the fresh herbs, as is cotija cheese for the Parmesan.

I don't have a slow cooker, can I make this chicken noodle soup on the stovetop?

This recipe was developed for a slow cooker. If you don't have one, we suggest trying one of these other recipes that were created specifically for the stove:

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Combine chicken, tomatoes, broth, onion, bell pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, pepper, salt, crushed red pepper and bay leaf in a 4-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on High until the chicken is tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees F, about 3 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer the chicken to a plate; let rest for 10 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, stir pasta into the mixture in the slow cooker; cover and cook on High until the pasta is tender, about 30 minutes.

  • Coarsely shred the chicken and stir it back into the soup, along with basil and parsley. Ladle the soup evenly into 6 bowls; sprinkle with Parmesan and garnish with parsley, if desired.

Equipment

4-qt. slow cooker

Nutrition Facts

about 2 cups
256 calories; protein 23.7g; carbohydrates 29g; dietary fiber 3.8g; sugars 4.1g; fat 4.8g; saturated fat 1.5g; cholesterol 47.5mg; vitamin a iu 1037.9IU; vitamin c 37.8mg; folate 26.9mcg; calcium 93.1mg; iron 2mg; magnesium 27.2mg; potassium 516.2mg; sodium 662.7mg; thiamin 0.1mg.

2 lean protein, 1 1/2 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 high-fat protein

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