Chicken noodle soup is a comfort meal made easiest in a slow cooker. It is a recipe that warms your bones on fall or winter day but also hearty enough to keep you full. Make a big batch to keep warm and keep the rest in the freezer for a quick lunch option.
Tips, Tricks and Substitutions
Can you freeze this soup? Absolutely. I’d suggest freezing it in individual portions so it is a) easier/faster to defrost and b) a usable portion. I always freeze a portion that I’d eat for lunch so that I always have an easy lunch option if I’m feeling lazy.
The noodles will freeze in the soup, but will absorb a lot of liquid. If you intend on freezing the soup, I’d add the pasta right before eating.
Should you use broth or stock? For this variation of the soup, I use whatever is on hand/easy to find. If you have stock in the freezer? Use that. If you bought broth at the store? Use that. The difference is in the mouth feel. Ideally I’d use homemade chicken stock, but store bought works just as well.
Can you add celery? I mean you can….I just don’t like it. I’d add it in similar sized pieces and when you add the carrots and onions.
Should you use chicken thighs or chicken breast? Personal preference is boneless skinless chicken thighs. It give the soup more flavor. Use whatever you have/prefer.
When should you add the noodles? I always add mine right before I am going to eat the soup and boil the noodles in the soup. I like the flavor they take on and I like the texture they take on. However, they will absorb a lot of the liquid the longer they sit in the soup. If you want a lot of broth, cook the noodles separately and add them into individual portions of soup. Keep the larger portion of the soup noodle free.
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Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 – 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 – 3 medium white onions
- ½ – ¾ lb baby carrots
- 2 cans 10 oz each chicken gravy
- 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 dried bay leaf
- ½ lb dried elbow pasta
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt to taste
- Add the chicken stock and boneless skinless chicken thighs in at least a 6 quart slow cooker.
- Remove the skin and root of each onion and cut into 6 pieces (roughly the same size to ensure even cooking). Add to the slow cooker.
- Add the baby carrots (the more you add, the more hearty the soup) to the slow cooker along with both cans of gravy.
- Roughly stir together and add the sprigs of thyme (no need to remove from the stem, the stem is removed later) and bay leaf.
- Cook on high for 4-6 hours until chicken is tender and falling apart, carrots and onions are soft.
- Remove the stems of thyme and bay leaf.
- Add the black pepper to the slow cooker and stir to combine. If eating immediately, add the pasta and cook on high for at least 30 minutes. If you want leftovers, you can cook the noodles separately and add them to the broth.
- After 30 minutes check to the pasta for doneness and check the soup for taste. Depending on the type of stock used, salt may need to be added. It is important to add this at the end because the soup may reduce a bit and can result in a salty soup.
- Store bought stock is typically more salty than homemade, which is why you add the salt at the end. Stock or broth can be used. Stock will have a better mouth-feel and have a deeper flavor.
- You can add celery, when you add the carrots and onions.
- You can use chicken breasts but the thighs have more flavor.
- The gravy adds flavor and makes it a little thicker.
- The noodles will absorb a lot of liquid. If you like a really brothy soup, I’d recommend eating it all at once or cooking the noodles on the side and adding them into the soup when you go to eat it.
- The soup will freeze well but is best if the noodles are cooked fresh.