Budget Bytes

10 February 2012

chicken noodle soup

$9.10 recipe / $1.14
It's been incredibly warm and summery here all winter, but today was cold, dark, and rainy. Which is perfect because I had planned to make a big 'ol pot of chicken noodle soup to soothe my tired, achy body. I hadn't made chicken noodle soup from scratch in probably 6 or 7 years, but I knew it was exactly what I needed. There's no bouillon needed here, folks. This broth is the real deal. Every time I've made this soup I'm always surprised at how just a few simple ingredients can create such a flavorful broth.

This soup is seriously easy but it does require some time to simmer. It can easily be adapted for the slow cooker, if that fits your schedule better. Just pop everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight. Pull the chicken out at the end and remove the meat from the bones in the same manner.

Speaking of bones, you really want to get chicken on the bone for this recipe. The bones and connective tissue add a lot to the flavor of the broth. Yeah, it sounds scary to the uninitiated, but I promise, bones are the secret to a good broth.

Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch

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Total Recipe cost: $9.10
Servings Per Recipe: 8 (about 2 heaping cups each)
Cost per serving: $1.14
Prep time: 15 min. Cook time: 1.5 hrs. Total: 1 hr. 45 min.

2 Tbsp olive oil $0.24
1 medium yellow onion $0.63
3 cloves garlic $0.21
1/2 lb. carrots $0.49
1/2 bunch celery $0.75
2 split chicken breast (bone-in) $5.35
1 tsp dried basil $0.05
1 Tbsp dried parsley $0.15
1/2 tsp dried thyme $0.03
1 whole bay leaf $0.15
10-15 cranks cracked pepper $0.05
1 Tbsp salt $0.10
6 oz. egg noodles $0.90
TOTAL $9.10

STEP 1: Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Begin cooking them in a large pot over medium heat with 2 Tbsp of olive oil.

STEP 2: While the onion and garlic are sauteing, wash and slice the carrots and celery. Add them to the pot and continue to saute.

STEP 3: Pull the skin and any excess fat from the chicken breasts. Add the breasts to the pot along with the bay leaf, basil, parsley, thyme, and black pepper. Add eight cups of water. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour. Make sure the pot continues to simmer for the whole hour. If the heat is turned down too low and it is not bubbling away, the chicken will not shred easily.

STEP 4: After an hour of simmering, remove the chicken from the pot. Using two forks, pull the meat from the bone and shred it slightly. Season the broth with salt. Begin with one teaspoon and add more to your liking. I used one tablespoon total (or three teaspoons). The flavor of the broth will really pop once the salt is added.

STEP 5: Add the noodles to the pot, turn the heat up to high, and boil the noodles until tender (about 7 minutes). Return the shredded chicken to the pot, add two more cups of water (to account for evaporation and absorption from the noodles). Taste and season again with salt if needed (I didn't need to). Serve hot!

Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch

Step By Step Photos

garlic and onion
Begin my dicing the onion and mincing the garlic. Place them in a large pot with the olive oil and saute over medium heat.

celery and carrots
While the onion and garlic are cooking, clean and slice the carrots and celery. Add them to the pot. You'll only use half of a one pound bag of carrots and half of a bunch of celery, but the rest doesn't need to go to waste. You can clean and slice the rest and freeze them to make another batch of soup with later. I do it every (other) time. It takes just a few more minutes and is super convenient later!

chicken breast
This is the chicken breast that I used. It's called "split" because it is one whole (two sides) of a chicken breast simply split in half without the skin or bones removed. It will also sometimes be labeled "bone-in chicken breast with rib meat".

skinned breast
The skin should pull away from the breast meat fairly easy. You may need to use a knife in a few spots around the edges.

chicken and herbs
Add the chicken breasts to the pot along with all of the herbs (bay leaf, basil, parsley, thyme, pepper).

add water
Add eight cups of water, cover, and bring up to a boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for one hour. Make sure that you don't turn the heat down so low that it stops bubbling. It needs to simmer the whole time.

cooked chicken
After an hour, pull the chicken out of the pot...

shred chicken
Using two forks (because it will be piping hot), pull the chicken from the bone and shred it slightly.

season broth
Meanwhile, season the broth with salt. Start with a little (a teaspoon or so), and add more until it is where you like it. I added one tablespoon total.

Add the noodles to the pot, turn the heat up to a boil, and cook until tender (about 7-10 minutes). You can use any noodle that you like, but I really like egg noodles in chicken noodle soup. They have a nice firm texture and they don't disintegrate in the soup.

add chicken back
Add the shredded chicken back to the soup.

add water, season
At this point I added two more cups of water to make up for evaporation and absorption by the noodles. Taste it again to see if you want more salt because the noodles (and adding more water) may mellow it out a bit. I didn't need to add any more, but that's up to you. Serve it hot with some nice crusty bread!

As usual, I portioned mine out before refrigerating and about half of these will end up in the freezer... and one stayed in a bowl because I ate it for lunch! :)

chicken noodle soup from scratch

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  • At February 10, 2012 at 5:59 PM , Anonymous Ellie said...

    I love that you made this recipe doable for someone like me who is seriously intimidated by the idea of making chicken soup with a whole chicken.

  • At February 10, 2012 at 8:40 PM , Blogger Michael and Dee said...

    I just love your blog. We are full time Rvers and on a strict budget. As soon as we get our RVing lives on track, I will be trying out many of your recipes.
    Thank you
    Mike and Dee

  • At February 10, 2012 at 9:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Looks great! I always have frozen my soup in plastic bags so there's less air exposure (and presumably, less freezer burn), but I noticed you did tupperware, which I've never tried. Do you find that works okay for you? Just curious.

  • At February 10, 2012 at 9:28 PM , Blogger laura said...

    I'm also curious about the freezing as I want to try this over the week and love the idea of freezing half of it in batches like you did! .. my question though, how would you recommend reheating the soup back up from the freezer? Just popping in the microwave?

  • At February 10, 2012 at 10:09 PM , Blogger Beth M said...

    Anon and Laura - I like to freeze my soups in the plastic containers so that I can reheat them right in the same container. I usually eat them up within a few months and don't notice freezer burn being a problem :) To reheat, I just microwave! They make great "grab n' go" lunches for days when I'm too late to make a lunch. If you don't like the idea of microwaving, you can run it under warm water until it loosens enough to free from the container, and then transfer it to a small pot and reheat that way.

  • At February 10, 2012 at 11:03 PM , Blogger laura said...

    Thanks Beth! I feel like it sounds like a silly question.. but I'm a terribly ignorant cook you are helping to reform :) Thank you.

  • At February 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM , Blogger Krysta said...

    I am fully converted to homemade chicken broth - no bouillon! I make my chicken broth with a Costco rotisserie chicken. I tried it in the crockpot with a store bought raw whole chicken, but there was only a dollar difference in cost and I like the flavor of rotisserie (and the meat is less shreddy when it is cooked that way). I cut off all the meat and cube it up into quart freezer bags, then I can pull it out to use for taquitos or as a pizza topping or whatever. Then I trim the fat and simmer the carcass in a big pot of water with a heaping Tbs of salt and several tsp of dried herbs like thyme and sage and a bay leaf. After about an hour of simmering it is ready and I drain it into mason jars, chill in the fridge then freeze for future soup use. It makes such a huge difference in flavor, and the nutrients gained from the bones and cartilage are important.

  • At February 11, 2012 at 3:57 PM , Anonymous Kate said...

    Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I think there is a little math error on the pricing. If the total cost was $9.10 and it made 8 servings, then it would be ~$1.14/serving, right?

    Otherwise, soup looks good! My tip for great and cheap broth is to keep a large container (or seal-able plastic bag) in the freezer. The odds and ends (peels, trimmings, etc.) from veggies and the stems from herbs just get tossed in there. Bones from chickens also make it into the freezer. Every once in a while, I just grab it all, dump it in the crock pot, top it with water and then let it go all day before straining it. It's almost like getting stock for free because it was stuff that you would have normally thrown away.

  • At February 11, 2012 at 4:22 PM , Blogger Beth M said...

    Kate -THANKS! I don't know why I was thinking 10 servings when I did the math :) Not a Debbie Downer at all, I *need* people to catch these things for me :P Fixing it now...

  • At February 12, 2012 at 5:24 AM , Anonymous AllieIsSuperAwesome said...

    I remember my grandmother used to make the most amazing soup with homemade noodles. Craving it one day, I asked my mom for the recipe: 1 cup flour, 1 egg, pinch of salt, and a little water. Mix until it forms a dough, roll it out, and cut into noodles. You can throw them straight into your simmering soup (no drying needed) and 10-ish minutes later, you have chicken soup with rustic, homemade noodles! I've also found that the homemade noodles survive reheating especially well since they're thicker than the store-bought kind.

  • At February 12, 2012 at 9:04 AM , Blogger Daktari said...

    This recipe looks amazing, but I have a few questions. Normally, I'd use chicken stock or chicken broth to make a soup. You use a different mix of spices than I'd normally use, and I imagine that ramps up the flavor, but still, I want chicken soup to taste like chicken. Did you really get enough chicken flavor out of those two boneless, skinless chicken breasts to make this a really chicken-flavored soup? I like the idea of not using broth, bouillon cubes, or stock--especially boxed--because it holds down the salt content, which is one of my biggest complaints about ready-made soups. When I can, I try to buy chickens whole (I even tried my hand at chicken farming this past year--what a ride that was!), boil the entire thing and portion up the chicken into a variety of dishes all at once. It *really* cuts down on the cost of each recipe since the meat is generally the most expensive part of the meal. Anyway, just wondered.

  • At February 12, 2012 at 9:10 AM , Blogger Beth M said...

    Daktari - Well, I think that's really a subjective issue. I used bone-in chicken breast (not boneless) and found that there was enough chicken flavor for me. If you're used to using a whole chicken, it may not be what you're used to :) Using a mix of bone-in chicken breast and thighs might be an adequate compromise!

  • At February 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM , Blogger Danielle said...

    Holy cow.

    First of all, this was really good. I usually resort to using chicken stock or cubes to add flavour because I find my attempts bland. This one was PERFECT.

    Two: My two and a half year old is going through a phase where he hardly eats more than two bites at every meal... he ate two bowls of this stuff. Magic.

  • At February 18, 2012 at 8:41 PM , Blogger Tintin said...

    I had the feeling this would translate nicely to chicken thighs in the crockpot, and I was right! It looks, smells, and tastes delicious. I'm in awe of what a wonderful chicken broth comes of four bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, eight cups of water, and seven hours. I'll never make my chicken soup another way again. :D

  • At February 21, 2012 at 5:17 AM , Blogger Kristen said...

    Wonderful, thanks so much for the recipe! I've been linking it to everyone.

  • At March 1, 2012 at 5:26 PM , Anonymous Jake said...

    Just made this tonight, unfortunately with no bone for adding flavour but it still turned out amazing :)

    I also added some sweetcorn to the mix, just after I initially submerged the chicken with water. Delicious!

  • At May 6, 2012 at 2:30 AM , Anonymous brisbane takeaway said...

    Wonderful recipe, and very detailed especially it is easier with photos. I got to try this chicken noodle soup, it seems good!

  • At May 8, 2012 at 10:57 PM , Anonymous chicken noodle soup recipe said...

    Thanks for posting a very detailed recipe. You really did a great job on this.. I love cooking like you!

  • At May 30, 2012 at 5:49 AM , Anonymous Bvi Company Formation said...

    I made this last night and it was sooooo good! Thanks for the recipe!

  • At June 7, 2012 at 1:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I just took a close look at that package of chicken. Where are you able to buy no-antibiotic, vegetarian-fed chicken for $1.99/lb?! I wish I could find it that cheap!

  • At June 7, 2012 at 3:41 PM , Blogger Beth M said...

    Anon - it was at my local grocery store, which is usually pretty expensive compared to national chains like Walmart. Every now and then they have great deals on chicken, though. I usually stock up when it happens :) I've even gotten boneless/skinless breasts there for less than that (they had been frozen, the store must have over ordered and frozen the excess).

  • At July 22, 2012 at 9:55 PM , Anonymous Courtney said...

    Soooo, I made this on a budget tonight. It was AMAZING!! I didn't really follow directions and just threw a bunch of stuff in a crockpot for 8hrs on low. ADD THE NOODLES RIGHT BEFORE IT'S ALMOST DONE if using a crock pot or it turns it to mush. Mine was super thick and turned out more of the chicken noodle STEW than a soup..but it was perfect! I will be eating this dish throughout the week and making some for my boyfriend. :3

    Thanks for sharing the recipe! The chicken with the bones & Skin makes a SUPER difference!

  • At August 27, 2012 at 6:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I was feeling a little under the weather today and this was the perfect pick me up! SO flavorful and easy! It was my first experience cooking with chicken on the bone. Thank you for your blog!

  • At September 2, 2012 at 6:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    is it too late to ask a question? Is it two chicken breast halves with bone?
    or is it two whole chicken breasts, split (with bone)?
    I'm enjoying your blog! Thanks.

  • At September 2, 2012 at 6:48 PM , Blogger Beth M said...

    Anon - It's two chicken breast halves (after being split from the bone). I referred to them as "two chicken breasts" only because most people don't realize that a whole chicken breast really includes both "halves"... hahaha, I hope that didn't make it more confusing! The pictures should help. It shows both pieces (two halves to the whole).

  • At September 2, 2012 at 7:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Many thanks! Will be trying this!

  • At September 27, 2012 at 11:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I just made this recipe yesterday. I only had boneless chicken breasts (sales), and some nature's promise chicken stock (1 c. with 7 c. water), so I just used that. I do know the bones add a lot of flavor, but my soup still turned out great. Thanks for the recipe Beth :)

  • At September 29, 2012 at 9:59 AM , Blogger AshleeQueen said...

    I already have frozen boneless skinless chicken breast, as well as a pound of frozen bone-in thighs (which I've had for like 2 months and have no idea what to do with). Which should I use, or should I use a combination? Do I need to thaw first, or can I just let them simmer another hour?

    I'm sick, so my head isn't totally with me. I NEED this soup! :)

  • At September 29, 2012 at 10:44 AM , Blogger AshleeQueen said...

    I lied...I have 2 pounds of frozen bone-in chicken thighs, which I have no idea what to do with. I remember why I bought them; I got them for $1.09/lb, and they're all-natural and hormone free. Can I use those, or should I use the frozen boneless/skinless chicken breast? Do I need to thaw them first, or can I just let them simmer for an extra hour or so?

  • At September 29, 2012 at 11:35 AM , Blogger Beth M said...

    Ashlee - I've made it with just boneless skinless breasts before, and it's still awesome. I've never made it with just thighs, but I'm sure it would work just fine (it just won't have the pretty white pieces of breast floating around, but probably more flavor). Or, you could use a combo of the two.

    You can put the meat in there frozen, it will just take a little longer to bring it back up to a boil. Just wait for it to come up to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for one hour as usual. Everything should be the same from that point forward :)

    I hope you feel better!!

  • At November 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM , Anonymous Mackenzie said...

    I made this soup a few days ago and it is absolutely wonderful!!! It's as close as you can get to my grandmother's amazing chicken noodle. Thanks so much for the recipe-- I cannot wait to make it again!

  • At December 3, 2012 at 5:57 PM , Blogger J. R. Tomlin said...

    It's a good recipe but, for full flavour, taking off the skin after it cooks gives a better broth. This recipe can be made with rice noodles to make it gluten-free.

  • At December 17, 2012 at 7:02 PM , Blogger Lauren said...

    I had a roast turkey leftovers so decided to mashed up this recipe with another I found about how to make turkey stock from a turkey carcass: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/moms_turkey_soup/. Follow this soup recipe as usual, only substitute the stock for the water and the leftover turkey meat for the chicken. It won't need to boil an hour since the turkey is already cooked.

    Un-freakin'-believable. This recipe provides the perfect seasoning.

  • At January 10, 2013 at 4:54 PM , Anonymous Elaine said...

    I made this soup today and it's fantastic! I agree that the seasoning is absolutely perfect (especially for someone who isn't fond of thyme). I will make a slight change in that I'll either cook the noodles first then add them to the soup or add less because they've completely taken over the soup. I had to add a third up of water and even then it's still lacking broth.

    Regardless, it's amazing soup that is wholly worth the effort of working out my issues with the noodles. It just means I'll have to make it several times until I get it right. Darn.

  • At February 13, 2013 at 1:47 PM , Anonymous Bayushizero said...

    Miss Beth, a question.

    Is the salt necessary?

    Unfortunately, I am on a very-low/no sodium diet as ordered by my Nephrologist; as I have a really dire kidney condition.

    It's to a point where can soup is just plain not possible, given how much sodium they pack into those little cans. I'm a summer-loving person, and don't do well in the cold, and can't even have most soup(s) in the cold months. I miss a good hot soup. =(

  • At February 13, 2013 at 3:04 PM , Blogger Beth M said...

    Bayushizero - The amount of salt you add can be completely up to you :) You can make it salt-free, but I find that it needs at least a little just to make the flavors pop. It's a big batch of soup, so even if you add a teaspoon or two, it will still be a very low sodium content per serving. Good luck!

  • At April 18, 2013 at 2:53 PM , Blogger Rux said...

    My husband wanted to "make" something and since he loves soups I thought of this recipe. So I set him up in the kitchen with the recipe on the Tablet and let him "go". He is a huge rookie when it comes to cooking and this soup recipe, along with the photos really helped him. Oh, and the soup came out AWESOME. I did not even have to go in there and check on him. The only change we made, which is not a real change, is that we used fresh herbs since we planted them and we had them on hand.

  • At April 25, 2013 at 2:35 PM , Blogger Tricia said...

    Beth, if I wanted to make this a chicken and rice soup instead of chicken noodle, at what point should I add the rice? Thanks!

  • At April 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM , Blogger Beth M said...

    Tricia - You can add it at the same point that you would normally add the pasta, but you'll need to let it simmer a little longer than the noodles to get it tender. Probably 20 minutes or so. You can add the chicken back while it's simmering.


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