Chicken Soup: 1 Basic Recipe, 4 Adaptations From Around the World


Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.


I live on good soup, not on fine words.

— Moliere

In the Beginning...

When was chicken soup invented?

There is no way to come up with a definitive answer, but the advent of combining ingredients in a pot to create a nutritious, filling, easy-to-digest meal (“soup”) probably occurred some moments after the discovery of fire, or perhaps more precisely, when prehistoric man took that first step in learning how to cook—learning how to boil water.

And, after learning to boil water, man made another discovery. Boiling foods not only makes them taste better, but it also creates new flavors. Cereal grains and some root vegetables, when heated in water, break down, soften, and release starchy granules. These starches then thicken the cooking liquid, the flavors of the individual ingredients combine, and soup is created.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Sop was the name given to the thick gruel which was made in that first cooking of grain or vegetables with meat and water. The “wealthy” made sop with broth poured on sliced bread.

Many nations have sops (soups) that they have claimed as their own—Spanish gazpacho, Scottish (mutton) broth with barley, and Russian cabbage soup. Each different soup was borne, not out of ethnic pride or a desire for individuality, but from a need for frugality and using local ingredients that could be easily obtained.

Here a Chick, There a Chick

And here’s where the chicken enters the story. The domesticated chicken has a long, complicated genealogy stretching back perhaps as much as 7,000 to 10,000 years. Fossil bones of what are believed to be a domesticated breed of poultry have been discovered in northeastern China—they date back to about 5,400 B.C. And that is just the beginning.

Researchers assume that the ancestors of that northeast China chicken originated in a drier, warmer climate. The habitat of those ancestors, the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) was vast, stretching from northeastern India to the Philippines.

A DNA analysis has identified three other species of fowl that may also be the progenitor of the red junglefowl and thus modern chicken.

Let's Do The Math

Chicken was popular—easy to raise and quick to maturity. It was taken to Africa; it was taken to Europe. Yet another variety of chicken has its origins in South America.

The chicken, dear friends, is ubiquitous.

1.u·biq·ui·tous [yoo-bik-wi-tuhs]


Existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresent

Chicken is a local ingredient (unless, of course, you live in Antarctica). It's ubiquitous. And guess what? Soup is ubiquitous. You needn’t be a mathematical genius to understand this equation:

A = chicken

B = soup

C = ubiquitous

If A = C, and B = C, does it not stand to reason that A + B = C?

Yes, chicken soup is everywhere!!

A first rate soup is more creative than a second rate painting.

— Abraham Maslow

Equipment You Will Need

  • 1 large stockpot
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large spoon
  • can opener
  • strainer or colander
  • food processor (if making your own noodles)
  • plastic wrap (if making your own noodles)


Chicken soup with homemade noodles

Chicken soup with homemade noodles

Basic Homemade Chicken Broth Recipe


  • 1 4-pound whole chicken (remove and discard the bag of giblets before cooking; see note below)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 4 quarters
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 large sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • About 4 quarts (16 cups) of water


  1. Place the chicken, onion, carrots, and celery in a stockpot. Pour in enough water to completely cover the chicken and vegetables. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about one hour or until chicken is tender. While cooking, use a large spoon to skim any scum or large globules of fat from the surface.
  2. Carefully remove the chicken from the stockpot; set aside to cool slightly. Continue to simmer the broth. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones. Place in a covered container and refrigerate. Return the chicken bones to the stockpot. Continue to simmer stock for one hour.
  3. Strain broth into several large containers. If not planning to use immediately, place stock-filled containers in a sink filled with cold water and ice. (This will speed up the cooling process.) Cover and refrigerate.

Makes about 3 quarts (12 cups).

NOTE: At the start of this recipe I recommended removing (and discarding) the bag of giblets. If you LIKE the taste of them, by all means, take them out of the paper bag and add to the stockpot with your whole chicken. I personally do not care for the taste of chicken liver cooked with my broth. To each his own.

BY THE WAY: Are you wondering why we discard the vegetables, and then add vegetables to the stock to make chicken soup? The vegetables used in this portion of the recipe are completely used up. All flavor and texture have been rendered out of them. Allow them to rest in peace.

Home Made Noodles (If You're In the Mood)



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten well
  • ½ cup milk (approximate)


  1. Place flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.
  2. With machine running, pour in eggs. Process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
  3. With machine running, slowly drizzle in the milk. Depending upon humidity you might not need the entire ½ cup. Add just enough to make a smooth, firm dough.
  4. Remove dough from the bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, and let sit for one hour (this will allow the gluten in the dough to relax so that the dough is easier to roll out).
  5. With a large rolling pin or pasta machine, roll dough to a thickness of 1/16th inch. Cut into ½-inch wide strips, and then cut each strip into 3 inch long pieces. Sprinkle flour over cut noodles and toss to coat (so that they don’t stick together) while waiting for water or broth (stock) to come to a boil.
  6. Drop into water/broth/stock by handfuls, stirring constantly. Boil 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.

Basic Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, pared and cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 2 ribs of celery, cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups chicken stock (see recipe above, or use low-sodium canned chicken stock)
  • 8 ounces dried noodles (or see recipe above for homemade noodles)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced (from above recipe for chicken stock, or use leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in thyme, bay leaf, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in noodles and then reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally until noodles are cooked (they will be soft, but not mushy).
  4. Stir in chicken, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to heat the chicken. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Makes about 6 servings

Tex-Mex Chicken Noodle Soup

To the basic chicken noodle soup recipe add:

  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup salsa (mild or medium, depending upon your heat preference)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, minced

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

To the basic chicken noodle soup delete:

  • noodles and replace with 2 cups cooked white rice—OR—cooked (steamed) won tons (2 or 3 for each bowl)

And then add:

  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Moroccan Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

To the basic chicken noodle soup recipe delete

  • noodles and replace with 1.5 cups orzo

And then add:

  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

Italian Chicken Noodle Soup

To the basic chicken noodle soup recipe delete:

  • noodles and replace with ditalini, macaroni, or other short pasta

And then add:

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 2 cups fresh kale (ribs removed) chopped
  • 1 cup salad croutons (yes, trust me on this. Seasoned dried bread cubes are the heart and soul of ribollita soup)
  • pinch red pepper flakes

Simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked and kale is wilted/tender.

© 2016 Linda Lum


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 14, 2016:

Paula - Thank you for your kind words. Please try some of my recipes. They aren't difficult, and although they might not be as good as your mothers (they never are), I hope they might bring you some comfort and joy.

Suzie from Carson City on March 14, 2016:

Diva......Great recipes! I love SOUP of all kinds.....could actually live on it. My mother was a master soup-maker! No matter how hard I try, I can't quite make mine as DELICIOUS as hers....

Chicken Soups! YUM! Paula

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 14, 2016:

Bravewarrior - You have taught me something today. I love your idea of straining the spent veggies from making the stock and returning them to the pot. I love being frugal. And as for using the stock on the dumplings--yes, that would certainly impart more flavor. Both excellent suggestions. Thank you so much for adding some great tips to my hub!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 14, 2016:

Love chicken noodle soup!When I make my stock, I don't discard the spent veggies. I shove them through a sieve to add heartiness to the stock. Whatever doesn't make it thru, gets discarded.

Now, I've got a hankerin' for chicken n dumplings. Even better than chicken noodle soup in my book. But I'll take either one, actually. A trick my grandmother taught me is to use chicken stock as the liquid for making the dumplings (we roll them out and cut into strips) instead of milk. Very yummy.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 20, 2016:

Rachel - Not snow, rain. Tons and tons of rain. I live in the Pacific NW on the west side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Guess that's why it is called the Evergreen State.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on February 20, 2016:

Italian Wedding Soup does have little meatballs, but it also has spinach or swiss chard and tiny round pasta, but sometimes I have hamburg left over from my large meatballs and make small ones and save them just to put in the soup. Wow, you have a lot more snow then we did this year. Where do you live?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 20, 2016:

Hi Rachel - Little meatballs--is that Wedding Soup? Yes, I've done that too. Yummy. Nothing more comforting that a warm bowl of soup when "the weather outside is frightful." Yesterday we had a lulu of a storm. Since October 1 we have already received 110 percent of the precipitation typical for the entire water year (October through September).

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on February 20, 2016:

Hi Carb Diva, Chicken soup is almost a staple in my house, especially in the fall and winter months. I love all your versions of it, it sounds a lot like my basic chicken soup. Sometimes I add little meatballs to it. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings to you.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 20, 2016:

Jodah - You may have my share of the giblets--gizzards and all. An acquired taste for sure.

I am glad that you enjoy the history lesson. That's what I'm here for. Have a great weekend!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 20, 2016:

Peach - Yes, there is nothing like a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 20, 2016:

Eric - I love Pho'. I just finished eating breakfast, but the thought of a steaming bowl of it makes me hungry again.

Thank you for your kind words. I would like to think that my style is different from other hubbers who share recipes. I enjoy researching the history of the food we eat; it's something I am very passionate about.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 20, 2016:

Bill - I totally agree. I'm pretty sure chicken soup has been referred to as Jewish penicillin. In doing my research I found information that there truly is something curative in chicken broth. Thanks and have a great weekend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2016:

This is my go-to meal when I'm sick. There's just something about chicken noodle soup...as long as it's not our chickens in that soup. :)

Have a great weekend, Linda!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 20, 2016:

My wife is our resident soup cooker. Those Vietnamese types love their Pho'. Right now there is none -- I must check to see if she is feeling alright. These are delicious recipes and as always written up in a wonderful fashion. You are the only recipe hubber I follow, you make it fun.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 20, 2016:

i love homemade chicken noodle soup I even cooked mine

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 20, 2016:

Hi Carb Diva. I love chicken noodle soup..the basic recipe for me, but I would add the giblets especially the gizzards .. love 'em.

I also like the bit of history that you add to your hubs, it's always interesting. Thank you.

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