~ This Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup (with rotisserie chicken!) has plenty of shortcuts and make-ahead options, and it’s freezable, too! So hearty and comforting – just what we all need on a cold day … or when the sniffles unexpectedly strike! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Freezable • Make Ahead •
Quick, easy chicken noodle soup. Totally what we all need this time of year, as the snowflakes swirl in bitter arctic gusts, and sniffles and coughs blaze a rampaging course through every school and office (heading straight for you).
Yes. This soup is warm, simple, comfort.
And it’s lickety-split quick.
I have this image of my idealized self, where I have a big pot of warm-your-soul soup burbling away, as I use Florence Nightingale-type healing powers to care for my poor, dear, sick family whenever colds may strike.
Sure. Nice try, idealized self.
I don’t know about you, but when the school nurse calls to tell me I need to pick up a sick kiddo, I generally haven’t planned ahead to fire up a long-simmering soup.
My real-world self dashes past the grocery store on the way to the school, nabbing cold medicines that we apparently ran out of (but no one bothered to add to my shopping list), along with the ingredients to throw this soup together in the few minutes I’ll have back at home (before the nurse inevitably calls again to tell me kid #2 just succumbed).
When we need chicken noodle soup, we need it NOW. My real-world self knows this.
But the little idealized self lurking inside me wants it to be lovingly homemade, not that gloppy processed-tasting stuff that dumps from a can.
This version of chicken noodle soup is where the two “me’s” meet … real-world quick-and-easy meets idealized-self homemade.
I feel like a parenting hero (inwardly patting myself on the back – mom saves the day in the face of virus-induced doom), and I chalk up a win for the day. Which is awesome, because I know by tomorrow, I’ll be personally enjoying the cold my kids just dragged home to me. Yay. Lucky I made a big batch of this soup.
So let me give you the low-down on some little tricks and tips here … and you can be a family hero, too!
Choose Your Noodle
Although many homemade chicken noodle soups are made with squiggly egg noodles, we prefer using a more bite-sized, small pasta shape like elbows. Entirely up to you – use whatever pasta shape you prefer.
We definitely do recommend, though, that you choose a 100% whole-grain pasta for the boost in nutrition and fiber.
The Perfect Broth for This Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
My idealized self not only imagines long-simmering soups … ideal me also lovingly makes my own homemade chicken broth, carefully freezing it as the perfect base for my soup and casserole recipes.
Buuuuuutttttt … until real-world me finds the time for truly from-scratch, homemade, I feel totally ok about purchasing store-bought broth, as long as it’s the healthiest I can find.
I almost always use fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth, adjusting the salt at the end of cooking as needed. In fact, if you’re interested in the “why’s” behind our recipe creation, I actually wrote an entire post about the difference between reduced-sodium broth and “regular” (and why we think you should use low-sodium broth in most recipes). There’s actually more to it than you’d probably guess! Anyway …
For this soup, with such simple ingredients, just the right final hit of seasoning from the salt will make all the difference in taking this soup from good to fantastic. But the exact right amount can vary based on your family’s tastes, and also on the brand of broth you choose – reduced-sodium broths can vary pretty significantly in the amount of salt they contain.
So, as I direct in the recipe card directions, it’s important to taste this soup at the end of cooking, and adjust the salt so the flavors truly pop.
One other note on selecting chicken broth. You might be surprised that some brands include less-desirable ingredients like MSG, so be sure to read the ingredient lists.
Alternatives to Rotisserie Chicken
Do you have to make this chicken noodle soup using rotisserie chicken? Nope, you sure don’t. Any cooked chicken breast should do, as long as it’s not overly seasoned with marinades or spices. If you’re cooking chicken for another purpose anyway, you could certainly make extra so you have enough chicken for this soup, too! Easy-peasy with a little planning!
But, since cold viruses just aren’t usually kind enough to allow for convenient advanced planning, I usually find that snagging a rotisserie chicken is my best bet on short notice. When I need quick chicken noodle soup … I need it stat!
What To Do with Leftover Rotisserie Chicken
If you do grab a rotisserie chicken for this soup, you’ll probably be left with quite a bit of dark meat and other bits of chicken that aren’t needed for this recipe. What to do, what to do?
Well, if you have a dog, we’ve got a solution! Be sure to check out our recipes for Chicken and Biscuits Homemade Dog Treats and 2-Ingredient Frozen Dog Treats! They both brilliantly use up leftover chicken … and trust me … your pooch will thank you!
Make-Ahead Tips (How to Make Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup Even MORE Quick and Easy!)
Just got a bad feeling that a cold is looming (or maybe you’ve got a top-notch crystal ball)? You can prep a lot of the ingredients for this soup a day or two ahead, chopping the veggies and chicken, and stashing them in the fridge.
When the sniffles strike … voilà! You’re ladling out soup in moments!
That’s actually one of the best shortcut reasons to use precooked or rotisserie chicken in this recipe – you can have it chopped and waiting so your soup’s done even faster!
Added bonus: this Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup refrigerates and freezes really well, so you can also make it ahead to have at-the-ready. As with any noodle soup, the noodles will continue to soften a bit, so if you’re specifically making this ahead of time, you may choose to cook the noodles just a bit to the al dente side. Either way, though, it’s absolutely delicious!
Alrighty then … you’re armed and ready!
Whether you make this ahead and freeze it, or dash madly through the grocery store on your way to the school nurse … when winter germies come a’callin’, you’ll be the idealized-self, parent-hero of your dreams!
Like a cozy, comforting hug, this Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup is just what you’ll need to battle the winter chill and all the sniffles that come with it!
Stay warm out there, friends!
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup small, thinly sliced celery (from about 1-2 stalks)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion (about 1/4 of a large onion)
- 2/3 cup small, thinly sliced (peeled) carrot (about 2 thin carrots)
- 64 ounces fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups shredded or chopped rotisserie chicken breast (see note)
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 4 ounces whole wheat elbow pasta (or other small shape)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
- Optional: minced fresh parsley, for garnish
In a large soup pot, heat oil briefly over medium heat. Add celery, onion, and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning.
Add broth, chicken, and dried parsley. Cover and bring soup to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then increase heat to bring soup to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and continue gently boiling (covered) until pasta is done (following time recommendation on pasta package).
Taste and season with salt, as needed, so the flavors pop. (This can vary a bit depending on your brand of chicken broth, but we find approximately 3/4 teaspoon typically works well.) Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
Chicken: A standard grocery store rotisserie chicken should yield about 2 cups of chopped or shredded breast meat. But, there is definite variation, and if your bird is a bit on the smaller side, you may need to also include a little dark meat to yield 2 full cups.
Make-ahead and freezing tips: You can chop the vegetables and chicken earlier in the day or the day before, covering and refrigerating vegetables and chicken separately until you're ready to make this soup. In addition, this soup rewarms well later. The noodles will soften a bit more upon standing, but are still delicious. In addition, this soup also freezes well.