I’ve been mulling over the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” more often lately. Not so much the what side of it (when your formal occupation is “food blogger,” you eventually let go of the need for a professional-sounding title), but the when portion. Do we ever finish growing up? I sure hope not. I may grow older, but I’ll never grow out of uncomplicated, sentimental recipes I’ve loved since childhood like Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup.
This healthy Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup is not fancy. It’s not sophisticated. It’s not even particularly revolutionary (unlike my Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup).
But it is very, very yummy, and yummy (along with easy, healthy, and great leftover) is a top-quality we look for in our meals around here.
For the parts of us that are grown up (which I cannot specifically define but imagine involves the part of me that spent Saturday organizing the storage room, a task that has been looming since we moved in five months ago), I added an elevated twist to the recipe that will make it one of the best chicken noodle soup recipes you’ve tried.
For the parts of us that aren’t grown up (the part of me that didn’t finish the organizing in favor of a brewery tour), I kept the classic aspects of chicken noodle soup that make it the deeply comforting, nourishing, and simple (in a good way) childhood favorite that it is.
This is a “dump and go” crock pot recipe, meaning that you essentially toss all the raw ingredients into your slow cooker without any advance prep like sautéing required. It’s fairly fast and yields a generous portion so you can enjoy it all week long.
Making the Best Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
This recipe starts with a classic base:
- Carrots and Celery. I hate buying a whole pouch of celery just to use a few stalks, but the soup wouldn’t be complete without it. Use the extra for snacking or in many of these healthy soup recipes or this Healthy Chicken Pot Pie.
- Onion. PRO TIP ALERT. Instead of using diced raw onion—which I find overpowers crock pot recipes unless it is sautéed first—I put in 1 whole, peeled onion that I remove at the end of the cook time. It imparts the onion flavor, but it’s not nearly as off-putting as when raw onion is used. It also saves you the step of sautéing the onion first.
^^I can’t take credit for this genius hack. I heard it from a friend who said that’s how her grandma’s slow cooker chicken noodle soup is made, so I decided to test it out here. BRILLIANT.
- Chicken. Part I of the Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup’s namesake. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can make it with chicken thighs if your household prefers dark meat or a mix. This soup is fairly fast, but if you need to cut down the prep time further, you could even cook this crockpot chicken noodle soup with rotisserie chicken.
I haven’t played around with making Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup with a WHOLE chicken, but it’s on my list for future experimentation. One “grown up” weekend later this season perhaps?
- Chicken Stock. I recommend using chicken stock instead of broth in this recipe. Here’s why:
The Difference between Chicken Stock and Chicken Broth
- Stock is made with chicken or other animal bones (along with aromatics and veggies). It has a long simmer time.
- Broth uses mostly meat and has a shorter cook time.
- As a result, stock has a slightly fuller flavor, and I even think the texture is a little richer.
- Broth is a bit less expensive, and you can find more options for it in the grocery store.
My Verdict on Using Chicken Stock versus Chicken Broth in Recipes
- Unless you are cooking the stock from scratch (which, GOOD FOR YOU, I’ll happily take any extra off your hands), I find store-bought broth works as well as store-bought stock in 95% of recipes.
- Recipes when I prefer to use stock: liquid-based soups like this Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup. They benefit from the (slightly) richer mouthfeel of stock.
Now, let’s talk about what makes this particular soup recipe a step above your standard Betty Crocker crock pot chicken noodle soup.
- Fresh Rosemary. I picked up a tip from Ali to simmer a bundle of fresh herbs in my chicken noodle soup while it cooks. It perfumes the stock and imparts additional flavor, and if you love rosemary as much as I do, you’ll want it in every bowl of chicken noodle soup you eat from now until forever amen.
Not a rosemary freak? Swap a bundle of fresh thyme. You can also leave out the bundle and top the final soup with chopped fresh dill.
- Whole Wheat Pasta Noodles. To make this Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup healthy, I used whole grain egg noodles. You can cook them directly in the crock pot and save yourself washing a separate pasta pot, but I found the best results cooking them separately on the stove. Noodles simply can’t achieve that perfect al dente bite in the slow cooker and tend to fall apart.
I included directions for cooking the noodles in both the crock pot and on the stove. You can take your pick based upon how much you value nice noodles versus the effort of washing an additional pot.
Looking for one pot AND ideal noodle cookage? Check out my Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup. For an even faster recipe, I also have this Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, which is good to go in about 30 minutes.
Can You Put Frozen Chicken in the Crock Pot?
- You should not put frozen chicken in the crock pot. The meat could spend too long at room temperature, which may render it unsafe to eat.
- However, it is perfectly safe to use raw chicken in a slow cooker recipe.
What to Serve with Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Salad. Serve an easy, tasty salad like this Anytime Arugula Salad.
- Bread. Soup was meant to be served with a delicious loaf of bread like this Rosemary Olive Oil Bread.
- Crackers. Add a fun flair to your soup crackers by serving these Ranch Crackers.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- To Store. Place cooked and cooled soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm soup gently in a medium saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat the soup in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until warmed through.
- To Freeze. Store cooked and cooled soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Recommended Tools to Make Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
No matter your age, this Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup is easy to make, gratifying to eat, and guaranteed to help see us through these chilly days. Spoons up!
Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts trimmed of excess fat
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus additional to taste
- 1 small yellow onion peeled and left whole
- 3 medium carrots peeled and cut into 1/4-inch coins (about 1/2 pound)
- 2 large celery stalks thinly sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 3 stalks fresh rosemary tied into a bundle for easy removal
- 1 bay leaf
- 7–8 cups low-sodium chicken stock divided
- 6 ounces whole wheat wide egg noodles about 4 heaping cups
- Chopped fresh parsley
- To the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker, add the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the whole onion, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary bundle, and bay leaf. Pour 6 cups of the chicken stock over the top. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or HIGH for 2 to 3 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. The cooking time can vary greatly depending on your slow cooker model, so check the thickest part of the chicken for doneness early to ensure it does not overcook.
- Remove the chicken from slow cooker to a large mixing bowl or plate. Fish out and discard the whole onion, bay leaf, and rosemary springs (don’t worry if a few of the rosemary leaves are left in the soup). Shred the chicken—a hand mixer, two forks, or your fingers (if the chicken is cool enough) all work well for shredding. Set the shredded chicken aside.
- To cook the noodles on the stove (the best option so that you don’t worry about them over- or undercooking and so the noodles stay more intact): Towards the end of the soup’s cook time, cook the egg noodles until al dente according to package directions. Drain and add to the soup when the soup has finished cooking. Add back the shredded chicken. Stir and let cook on LOW for 5 minutes to absorb some of the flavor.
- To cook noodles directly in the slow cooker (the best option if you are willing to risk less-than-perfect noodles for the sake of not washing a separate pasta pot): Add the uncooked egg noodles to the soup. Cook on LOW for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Stir in the shredded chicken.
- Add as much of the remaining 1 cup chicken stock as you like to reach your desired consistency. (If you cooked your noodles in the slow cooker, you may also need to add some additional stock since the noodles absorb the stock as they cook). Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
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