Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
This is a quick and easy recipe for that ultimate childhood favorite and comfort food, chicken noodle soup, made fresh right before service! The basic recipe is close to Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup (for maximum kid appeal), but much better – the ingredients haven’t been sitting inside a can for prolonged periods, the pasta is freshly cooked, there’s lots more noodles, chicken and carrots, and there’s a secret ingredient to give the broth extra flavor. You can eat the recipe as is, or customize the recipe to your own taste (see below for suggested variations). I’ll also give you time saving tips and shopping tips so you can make this dish for even less!
Someone is wondering right now why not make such a quick soup on the stove instead? There are a couple of reasons why using an electric pressure cooker is better. On a purely practical note, it frees up an extra burner on the stove. Thanks to cooking under pressure, in just a little more time than it takes to bring a pot of broth up to the boil, this soup is already done. If you’re using an electric pressure cooker, you just have to put all the ingredients in the pot, set it, and you can forget it until the timer goes off. No bringing the broth up to the boil, adding the ingredients, skimming off surface scum, reducing the temperature to a simmer, repeatedly checking the doneness of the pasta and water evaporation, no worries about the noodles overcooking – I can concentrate on preparing the rest of the meal instead. My pressure cooker has extremely predictable results from batch to batch: when the timer beeps, all the noodles and carrots will be cooked the right amount, there won’t be any pasta stuck to the pan, and each and every time, the broth will have that same wonderful golden yellow color. (That’s not a trick folks, I didn’t add food coloring or use special lighting techniques or Photoshop, that’s the actual warm, inviting color the soup will be.) I also know I can start the soup fifteen minutes before service, and it will be ready in fifteen minutes, every time. There’s something about making a soup under pressure, at high temperatures, that makes the soup more cohesive, to force the flavors of the broth into the noodles, and the flavor of the chicken, carrots and vermouth into the broth. And because the soup has been heated well above the boiling point, when pressure is released, it is still very hot, making it much easier to get nice hot soup to the table.
CHICKEN v. TURKEY: If you’re trying to decide between chicken parts and turkey, a quick check of this USDA Nutritional Chart may help. Chicken breast is lower in calories and fat and higher in protein than chicken thighs and drumsticks; chicken (and turkey) legs, by contrast, have more iron, zinc, amino acids, vitamins B6 and B12, thiamine and riboflavin than white meat. Turkey has less fat than the equivalent chicken parts, and all parts of the turkey have more iron than chicken does.
6 cups chicken broth (3 – 15 oz. cans or 1 large can)
8 ounces (225 grams) dry pasta noodles (egg noodles, fettuccine or spaghetti)
2 cups cooked chicken or turkey (fresh or frozen) (cut into ¼” dice, then measure)
1 cup carrots (raw, cooked or frozen) (cut into ¼” dice, then measure)
1 tablespoon Chicken Base (DO NOT substitute bouillon)
1 tablespoon dry vermouth (optional)
Electric Pressure Cooker
12″ Silicone Tipped Tongs
SHOPPING TIPS: Generally speaking, none of these ingredients is expensive, however, if you shop carefully, you can save even more. And of course, the most cost effective means of making this soup is to save extra uncooked pasta in a ziploc bag and leftover chicken and carrots in the freezer until you have enough to make soup. If you have a Vons, Safeway or Pavilions near you, I also recommend that you sign up for their “Just for You” program and check the online deals once a week. I often receive online coupons for pasta, or “Just for You” offers for discounts on chicken, carrots and pasta. Also check the “Your Club Specials”, which shows you prices on products you’ve purchased before – sometimes there’ll be a great sale on chicken that wasn’t advertised in the weekly circular. (Within the past couple of months, I was able to purchase a large amount of cube steak for $0.99 / lb. that wasn’t advertised in the sales flyer, but did show up in my club specials.)
CANNED CHICKEN BROTH: Canned broth is heavily discounted before the major food related holidays. Starting a couple of weeks before Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, check the supermarket circulars, Costco and Winco for great deals on canned broth. Check the expiration date on the cans, buy in bulk and use for your soups and stews year round.
CHICKEN: I never pay full retail price for chicken. I know that I can get whole chicken or chicken thighs at Costco for $1.19 a pound, so that’s my price to beat (boneless meat is rarely the best deal). Every few weeks, like clockwork, Smart and Final will put Foster Farms chicken breasts and Vons will put whole chickens on sale. If you prefer natural chicken, every few weeks Sprouts / Henry’s will have a good sale on natural chicken thighs (their prices are far better than Whole Foods). Stock up and freeze when on sale (you can keep chicken and turkey in the freezer for one year).
TURKEY: The trick to getting a good deal on turkey is to always buy whole turkeys (sorry, Jenny-O) and buy them seasonally. You can get good deals on frozen turkeys before Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas (supermarkets will often offer a special price per pound when you buy $25 worth of groceries), and on whole turkeys immediately after those holidays (the supermarkets have all those big bulky turkeys taking up all that valuable space in their refrigerators and freezers, and demand has dropped precipitously. Retailers slash prices to move those post-holiday turkeys so something else can occupy that space).
PASTA: You can either buy pasta in bulk at the warehouse stores, or get packages on sale during the late spring and summer, when spaghetti sauce goes on sale. Except for egg noodles, dried pasta can be stored for up to two years in your pantry.
CARROTS: The price of carrots is both pretty reasonable and pretty stable year round, but I periodically get “Just for You” offers for discounts on carrots, so I’ll buy them in bulk, peel blanch and dice them, and then store in the freezer, ready for use in soups and stews. Don’t buy “baby carrots”, especially not for the pressure cooker.
DRY VERMOUTH: If you drink white wine, feel free to substitute it for vermouth in this recipe. In many states, if you purchase a bottle of wine in a restaurant, they are required to let you take the unfinished wine with you. If you don’t drink it within two days, put it in the fridge and use it for cooking! I like to use vermouth in recipes — it’s very inexpensive, I like the taste, and as a non-drinker, I prefer to use fortified wines like vermouth, which will last longer than regular wine.
- Cut cooked chicken into approximately ¼ inch pieces. If you don’t have leftover cooked chicken, place 1 cup water, trivet, and chicken pieces (with skin removed) in pressure cooker. Pressure cook at high pressure, using natural pressure release. Cook bone-in breast meat for 5 mins. Cook bone-in leg meat (thighs and drumsticks) for 6 minutes. Cook boneless chicken (both white and dark meat) for 4 minutes.
- Peel carrots and dice into ¼ inch pieces. You can also use frozen diced carrots.
- If you’re using spaghetti or fettuccine noodles, break the pasta into thirds.
- Combine the soup ingredients (broth, pasta, diced chicken, diced carrots, chicken base and vermouth) in the pressure cooker bowl. Pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 2 minutes using QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE.
- Once pressure has been released, unlock lid and remove (raising the far side up to release any steam and heat away from your face), give soup a quick stir, then serve immediately. Like all pasta soups, it is at its very best when its piping hot and the noodles have been freshly cooked, so serve immediately, if you can.
PRESSURE COOKING TIP: For both chicken and turkey, white and dark meat cook at different rates (dark meat – thighs and drumsticks — takes longer). It also takes longer for bone-in poultry to cook. If you are pressure cooking mixed parts for this recipe, I would recommend using the lower time setting, since the diced meat will be cooked further when it is added to the rest of the soup ingredients.
PRESSURE COOKING TIP: I use a lot of diced chicken, potatoes and carrots in my recipes. To make this soup even faster, keep diced chicken and blanched and diced carrots in your freezer, ready to be popped into soups and stews.
- 6 cups chicken broth (3 – 15 oz. cans or 1 large can)
- 8 ounces (225 grams) dry pasta noodles (egg noodles, fettuccine or spaghetti)
- 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey (fresh or frozen) (cut into ¼" dice, then measure)
- 1 cup carrots (raw, cooked or frozen) (cut into ¼" dice, then measure)
- 1 tablespoon Chicken Base (DO NOT substitute bouillon, its too salty)
- 1 tablespoon dry vermouth (optional)
- Dice pre-cooked chicken into approximately ¼" pieces. If you don't already have leftover pre-cooked chicken, you can put 1 cup of cold water, a trivet, and skinless chicken pieces in the pressure cooker bowl. Cook at high pressure, using natural pressure release (do not force early pressure release). Cook bone-in breasts for 5 minutes, bone-in dark meat (thighs and drumsticks) for 6 minutes. For boneless chicken pieces, 4 minutes. Once pressure has been released and chicken has cooled enough to handle, dice.
- Peel and dice carrots into approximately ¼" squares. You can also use frozen diced carrots.
- If using fettuccine or spaghetti noodles, break noodles in thirds.
- Add the broth, chicken base, noodles, chicken, carrots and vermouth to the pressure cooker. Pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE for 2 minutes using QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE (use your tongs to release the pressure).
- Once pressure has been released, unlock and remove the lid. (Be careful to raise the lid at an angle, like a shield, with closest side down, and far side of the lid tilted up, to release heat and remaining steam away from you.) The soup will be at its very best while hot and noodles are freshly cooked, so if you can, ladle the soup up and serve right away.
Chicken Vegetable Noodle Soup. The quickest, easiest way to add more vegetables to this soup would be to add frozen veggies (peas, green beans, corn, etc.), but you could easily add fresh vegetables as well. I don't add celery to the basic recipe because it doesn't have much nutritional value, but you could certainly dice it up and add it for its flavor. Dice parsnips or celeriac into ¼" cubes. Cut zucchini, artichoke hearts, fresh green beans or pea pods into bite size pieces. You could add dried mushrooms, but you'd want to add very small amounts of mushrooms with strong flavors, like shiitakes. Or get really adventurous and use whatever you have in the fridge.
Chicken Noodle Soup with Fresh Herbs. Looking for comfort food, but with a little more sophistication? After you have placed the soup in bowls, garnish with fresh herbs. (Fresh herbs generally have a delicate taste, don't pressure cook them, add them after cooking. The added benefit of this is that picky children can have the soup plain, and mom and dad can enjoy a little something extra.) A few sprigs of thyme would be nice, or some fresh tarragon leaves. Or snip fresh parsley or chives into your soup.