HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Chicken soup advice!

I really love Progresso chicken noodle soup (reduced sodium one). Unfortunately, it is so artificial and has so much msg that I want to try to avoid it. I am a college student, so making home made stock is not an option. So, I bought a natural chicken stock (this one really doesn’t have msg- even under it’s pseudonyms ex: hydrolyzed protein). So, I put some veggies (green beans and carrots) the broth, left over chicken, and noodles in the pot. Let’s just say that everyone last night had leftovers. It did not taste at all like “homemade chicken soup.” Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. sautee the veggies first with some s&p. I used carrots, onion, and celery last night. sometimes i use a bit of garlic. pour over the stock, broth, or better than bullion and bring to a simmer. (I used homemade last night....). I poach the chicken breasts in the soup and shred it up and return it to the soup. Last night i added some egg noodles, but sometimes I use barley or rice. it was delicious.

    1. Not clear whether you're doing this in a dorm or an apartment. If the latter, it's worth buying a Crock-Pot (or ask for one for your birthday). You can dump all kinds of things in it and when you come home 8 hours later your dinner will be ready. My son's cooking days began with college life, a Crock-Pot, and homemade chili. Re stock: just put a few chicken leg & thigh pieces, a cut-up onion, a couple of cut-up pieces of celery, salt, and water to an inch from the top in your Crock-Pot, turn it on, and 8 hours later you will have REAL chicken stock. If you have a big (5 quarts roughly) Crock-Pot use 4 chicken leg-thighs. Afterwards, remove all the solids and add noodles or whatever you want. BTW the reason canned soup is so tasty is that it is loaded with all those chemicals you mentioned: that's why they're there. Gross concept, isn't it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Querencia

        I second the motion of using leg and thigh meat. Those pieces have a richer flavor than do chicken breasts. I know that from a health standpoint chicken fat is a no-no, but it does add flavor. If you can tolerate having the skin on the meat while cooking, do so, and remove the skin before serving the soup.

      2. I make a relatively "healthy" (I use dark meat) and very non-traditional chicken soup in the microwave. I use a large microwave proof casserole with a lid (Pyrex makes a nice one), then put in one or two raw chicken thighs (with skin), a large variety of fresh or frozen vegetables and an individual serving size of V-8 vegetable juice. Then bring the liquid level high enough to cover everything completely using organic chicken broth. You can use water if you don't have the broth on hand. And of course, you can omit the V-8 if you want something more traditional. Nuke on high for 18 or so minutes, testing the thighs for doneness. Remove chicken thighs and skin/bone them, break thigh meat into pieces and return to soup. Mix well and serve.

        Veggies I've used: Basically everything, but ALWAYS onion. Bell pepper will modify the flavor more than any other veggie, but it's still good and I do add Hungarian sweet paprika for more of a "goulash" flavor. A typical mix of veggies is diced or sliced onion, chopped fresh tomatoes, celery, sliced cabbage, diced potatoes, fresh spinach leaves, zucchini. Corn can be used fresh (off the cob), frozen or canned, they all work just fine, but this isn't true of other canned veggies. No limit on the combination of vegetables you can use if you have them on hand. Toss in some beets and you've got an 'Accidental Borscht." And then, of course, you're beholden to top it off with a dollop of sour cream, which is also true of the goulash-y soup. Quick, easy, and good. For the hearty kinds that cry out for sour cream, add a crusty loaf of artisan bread and you've got a complete winter meal. Hey, it's snowing outside. Maybe it's time to nuke!

        1. It sounds like your soup was missing the flavors provided by herbs, onions, garlic, and celery. I think celery is a key ingredient. I saute minced garlic, chopped onions, celery and carrots in a small bit of oil. Add broth and leftover chicken. Add 1 or 2 bay leaves (but make sure to remove before serving), 1/2 tsp dillweed, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1 tsp salt. I'm trying to remember my recipe which is actually adapted from a vegetarian mock chicken noodle soup in one of the Moosewood cookbooks. And I use rice instead of noodles because that's what my husband likes. Fresh parsley is a good addition, too.
          BTW a good place to buy herbs and spices is at a health food store or food co-op where they are sold in bulk and you can measure out only what you need.

          1. Yep, as everyone said -- you were probably missing some of the most important aromatics, namely mirepoix = finely diced carrots, celery stalk, and onion. I also always throw leeks in which give the soup a distinct onion-y (or, perhaps more acurate 'leek-y) flavor. Start off with sweating the mirepoix, then add the soup/stock/what have you. Throw in thigh meat, and I'd definitely get the skin-on type. Another pound of carrots (hey, I like my carrots), simmer for an hour or so. I'd also recommend boiling the egg noodles in their own pot. The thigh meat should fall off the bone pretty much, and the skin comes off easily. Assemble soup, meat & noodles = overall yumboskiness. Oh, and some chopped fresh parsley at the end is GREAT.

            1. green beans and carrots don't have enough flavour by themselves. IMO, soup needs onions. I always add garlic to my chicken soup, but that's just me. It's worth it to have some bay leaves on hand, but since you're a college student, maybe you're living in a dorm so you don't have a place for that. And salt and pepper, you should add both of those, as well, though careful about the salt because the commercial broth might be on the salty side, but don't assume it doesn't need any salt added. (Are you in a dorm?)

              1. toss a small onion in ... with 3 or 4 cloves stuck in it .... (depends on the amount of broth)

                and of course some garlic more onion celery carrots should do it just fine

                1. Great homemade chicken soup can be incredibly simple. Here's the easiest version:

                  Toss a couple pounds of (raw) bone-in skinless chicken thighs in a soup pot with cold water to cover by an inch, a healthy pinch of (non-iodized) salt, and (nice, but not absolutely necessary) a glass of white wine. Put the pan on the stove and simmer (never boil soup) until the chicken is cooked through--20 minutes or so should do it.

                  Meantime, chop up an onion, a couple of carrots, and a few stalks of celery. Maybe a pound or so of each vegetable. When the chicken is done, fish it out of the pot, dump in the veggies, add more water if there isn't enough liquid to cover, and simmer until the carrots are tender (probably 15-20 minutes).

                  Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone, tear or chop it into bite-sized pieces, and return it to the pot along with some black pepper. Correct the seasonings and let stand off the heat for at least ten minutes before serving over boiled egg noodles, rice, orzo, or any other suitable starch.

                  This soup is guaranteed delicious, and it's even better the next day. As far as additions go, a bay leaf and some tarragon are very welcome. You can change the soup a little (tomatoes, green beens, and garlic) or take it in a completely new direction (substitute fish sauce for the salt and add lemongrass, chopped bird chiles, and kaffir lime leaves). But there's absolutely nothing wrong with keeping it simple, either.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    I cook the chicken and an onion for about 1/2 hour. I add low sodium chicken soup powder (Telma) and then prepare vegetables like carrots, celery, parsley, and dill which it added later. Make sure you skim the froth to get a clear soup. Cook the soup about 1-1/2 hours, discard all vegetable except the carrots. Noodles, rice, tortellini or matzo ball can be served with the soup with the carrots.

                  2. I would have to go with the flow here and say that you seem to be missing veggies and spice. The soup I make, recipe handed down by my grandma, adds a little clove, hard boiled eggs and Portugese chourica in addition to the veggies already mentioned.

                    1. I think that if you were to cook the broth with the sauteed celery, onions, and celery, some celery tops, bay leaf, parsley, and whatever other herbs you think will compliment it, and let that come to a boil and then bring it down to a low simmer you could really develop the broth into a stock like liquid. It would also be good if you could add a smoked turkey wing to that. After it has cooked, and you have tasted it and are pleased, take out the celery tops, parsley, bay leaf, and turkey wing, and maybe the onions. Then add the noodles to cook. At the end toss in the chicken, making sure it has enough time to get warm. Good luck!

                      1. Smiling because I just put up a big chicken stock pot before I sat down to view this site. I use the traditional onion, celery, carrots for aromatics as well as leeks and parsnips. The parsnips add a great sweetness to the soup, but in a savory way. The carrots & parnsips complement each other vary much. I also add fresh herbs like parsley or dill. Someone suggested chicken without the bone, but I feel the bones add a great deal of flavor and help the soup gelatinize or give it enough body.

                        Can't comment about a slow cooker/crock pot, but you might be able to find one at a thrift or 2nd hand store if you don't want to make a major investment. If you are into soup/stew/braising, this would be a good tool to have.

                        1. Rather than giving you a recipe for making chicken soup in a microwave, I should have commented on what you've done. First off, let's establish that soup is always a matter of personal preference. Some people think a certain bowl of soup is great while another person doesn't want a second spoonful of the same soup. So you have to find what you like.

                          As to your method, first of all, I've never made a chicken soup using pre-cooked chicken that I found satisfying. So even if you don't have access to a refrigerator, you obviously have a way of heating things, so you can make soup from scratch. Sweat a mirapoix made of half an onion, a small carrot and a stick of celery all diced to about 1/4 inch cubes. Use flavorless oil or drawn butter and don't brown them. Add one or two chicken thighs (I like to leave the skin on) and bring to a simmer. Hold that temperature until the chicken thighs are done. Remove them, cool, discard skin and break meat into small pieces and return to pot. Oh, discard the bones as well. Now you have a good basic chicken soup. Lots of things you can do with it from here, and it's also very good "as is."

                          If you want to add any sort of pasta, including noodles or orzo, cook them in a seperate pot of water first, then shock them in cold water until they are cold as well before adding them to the soup. If you cook any sort of macaroni product in soup, two things will happen. First, it will thicken the soup and give it a floury taste. Second, should you have any leftovers you want to refrigerate, the pasta will continue absorbing liquid and the next day you'll have a pot of macaronni and no soup. To duplicate the soup the next day, refrigerate soup and pasta seperately. My personal preference is to treat rice the same way, and I use medium grain rice because I don't like the way long grain rice stores.

                          You can add any variety of vegetables you like for a chicken vegetable soup.

                          This basic "soup" can also be used for a base for other chicken dishes. If you want to make chicken and big fat "depression era" dumplings, after boning the chicken return the bones (but not the chicken) to the pot and toss in some diced potatoes and more carrots and celery chunks, cook until veggies are done, remove bones, add chicken, then mix some Bisquick according to the package directions for "drop biscuits" and spoon in blobs over the top of the soup, cover and simmer for at least the time the recipe indicates for baking. Test with a toothpick to see that the inside of the dumplings are cooked. A wide shallow pot allows for maximum dumplings.

                          If you have an oven, now or in the future, follow the recipe for chicken with dumplings (but skip the dumplings), use lots of potatoes and carrots and even some more onions, then when the potatoes and carrots are nearly done, add some frozen green peas and minced parsley. When carrots and potatoes are cooked, thicken the sauce with a beurre manie made by mixing soft butter and flour with a fork until you have a thick paste. Drop bits of it into the simmering soup until the desired thckness is gained. Butter the rim only of a 2 inch deep baking dish large enough to hold the chicken mixture at a fairly full level. Pour in chicken mixture and top with a package of well thawed frozen puff pastry, cut some vents in the top, paint with an egg wash (an egg with about a teaspoon of water mixed well) and bake in a hot oven until puff pastry is puffy and browned. For other easy variations, instead of the puff pastry you can top the chicken pie with a package or two of refrigerator biscuits. If you're more ambitious and want something really unique and satisfying, top it with a dozen or so layers of well buttered phyllo pastry and bake in a medium oven until golden brown.

                          In my experience, these recipe variations are always more satisfying than anything you can do with stock and pre-cooked chicken, and it's very close to being as easy. May you have a fabulous kitchen in your future!