Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

From Cook’s Illustrated. Published March 1, 1996.

Makes about 3 quarts, serving 6 to 8.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), breast removed and split, remaining chicken cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions , cut into medium dice
2 quarts boiling water
Table salt
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot , peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium rib celery , sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups egg noodles (3 ounces), preferably wide
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in large soup kettle. When oil shimmers and starts to smoke, add chicken breast halves; sauté until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add half of chopped onions to kettle; sauté until colored and softened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside. Add half of chicken pieces; sauté until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with onions. Sauté remaining chicken pieces. Return onions and chicken pieces (excluding breasts) to kettle. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water along with both breast halves, 2 teaspoons salt, and bay leaves. Return to simmer, then cover and barely simmer until chicken breasts are cooked and broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes.

  2. Remove chicken breasts from kettle; set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove skin from breasts, then remove meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces; discard skin and bone. Strain broth; discard bones. Skim fat from broth, reserving 2 tablespoons. (Broth and meat can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days.)

  3. Return soup kettle to medium-high heat. Add reserved chicken fat. Add remaining onions, along with carrot and celery; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, along with broth and chicken; simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, stir in parsley, and serve.