What brings out the flavor in chicken soup?

It’s that time of year again! The leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air, and everyone is searching for the perfect bowl of chicken soup! There are very few meals that are as comforting as a hot bowl of tender chicken, soothing broth, and flavorful carrots. It’s probably America’s most sought-after comfort food. But, there are A LOT of ways to make chicken soup and sometimes they don’t turn out quite right. One question we always hear is: What brings out the flavor in chicken soup?

Well, if you’ve asked that question, like pretty much all of us have, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ll break down the do’s and don’ts of all things chicken soup. We’ll share our secrets for creating a flavorful and oh so warming chicken soup the easy way! Plus, we’ll give you our tried and true chicken soup recipe that is sure to warm your body and soul.

The Don’ts

Don’t use rotisserie chicken or other pre-made chicken or left over chicken breast. You NEED the cooked bits for flavor! The picture below shows what you WANT in your pan before cooking! It’s what brings out the flavor in your chicken soup!

Don’t use water in place of chicken broth. Chicken broth contains so many background flavors from its cooking process that are essential to add richness to your soup.

Don’t skimp on the chicken. You want a good balance of chicken to broth to veggies. A soup without enough chicken is like a lasagna without enough cheese!

Don’t oversalt! You can always add more salt at the end of the cooking. Go easy on the salt at first.

Don’t skip tasting the soup before it cools! Any good chef tastes their food with a clean spoon everytime to see what’s missing. You should be tasting all your food several times. This will help develop your palate as well so it’s not just good for soup making!

additional pit falls that need to be avoided

Don’t boil your soup! You may think that cooking soup at a higher temperature will get it done faster, but it doesn’t. The flavors need time to come together, so simmering for over an hour is necessary. Think of chili. Chili cooks for 8 hours! You wouldn’t want to eat your chili after just one hour, would you?

Don’t use cheap broth. If you want a good flavor, you must choose high quality, organic ingredients. This includes your broth. Go ahead and splurge. You’ll thank me later!

Don’t skip a tablespoon of flour. Your soup shouldn’t be the consistency of water. The way to thicken it up to the perfect consistency is to add a tablespoon of flour to the pot after cooking the chicken and veggies.

Don’t add your noodles too early. The egg noodles, which are the traditional type of noodle in chicken soup, will break apart and disintegrate if you add them too early. They go near the end of the cooking process.

Whew!

Now the Do’s

Do cook the chicken in a large, metal pot. The sides should be high so the grease splatter is minimized. It should have a heavy bottom so it doesn’t burn your chicken too quickly. You will be browning chicken in it and yes, we want it to kind of stick to the bottom and caramelize.

THAT’S the best way to create flavor! In my opinion, it’s the only way. Soup is incredibly bland when people skip this step. So be sure to follow the above, it really brings out the flavor in your chicken soup!

Do use the same pan you browned the chicken in to make your soup. You need all the crusty, brown, oily stuff that is left over at the bottom of the pan after you remove the chicken and set aside. It’s what brings out the flavor in your chicken soup!

Do use high quality extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of the large, silver pot to brown the chicken. Get it to medium high heat before you put the chicken in it. Cook the whole chicken breasts about 5-6 minutes per side. Remove the chicken breasts and set on a plate to use later. Turn down the heat to low.

Do cook your onions and carrots in the same pot as you cooked the chicken. They absorb a lot of the leftover flavor of the browned chicken. Cook about 3-4 minutes.

Do add a tablespoon of flour to the left over bits and onion/carrot mixture at the bottom of the pan. This creates a sort of rue. That’s just a fancy term for thickener. Usually a rue is made by heating up butter and flour, but in this case we are using oil and flour… and lovely chicken brown bits and veggies, too!

more tips to up your soup game

Do use a high quality organic chicken broth. Use the best broth that your budget can handle. Cheap broth is usually tastelss or cheap-tasting. Organic broth tastes richer, fresher, and cleaner. The broth you choose could make or break your chicken soup!

Do cook low and slow. Once your broth is in, let your soup do its thing. Low heat and an hour… or two! I’m telling you, time makes the difference. Keep the lid off, too. Let some of the water evaporate. This helps your soup develop a richer color and flavor. Your house will be smelling amazing! Homecooked vibes, anyone?

Do use chicken bullion cubes! Depending on the size of your soup, use 1-2 cubes. They make your soup go from broth-y to chicken-y! They provide a chicken flavor you can’t get from standard broth.

Do season it how you want. I know some cooks who only want salt and pepper in their soup. And do you know what? That’s totally fine! I know some cooks who love dried herbs and a lot of them. I know some who swear by fresh parsley. Seasoning is up to you.

the soup that traveled the world

And, hey, if you want to add international flair, try adding some chili powder, cumin, garlic. Get creative! It’s hard to mess up a chicken soup that has good bones… meaning if you follow my flavor tips, you can do pretty much whatever spice combos at the end and it’ll turn out good!

Do add egg noodles at the very end. Egg noodles soak up a lot of the flavor and liquid so add them at the end. They only need about ten minutes of cooking. You don’t want them getting broken up by all the stirring that is necessary during simmering. Following these tips really brings out the flavor in your chicken soup!

FAQs

How to Increase the Flavor of Chicken Soup?

  1. Use Bones: Chicken bones, especially from the neck and back, enrich the broth with depth and complexity.
  2. Brown the Chicken: Sear chicken pieces before simmering. This caramelization adds a richer flavor.
  3. Aromatic Vegetables: Incorporate onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté them lightly before adding to the soup.
  4. Herbs and Spices: Thyme, bay leaves, and parsley stems are great. Add peppercorns for a subtle spice kick.
  5. Simmer Slowly: A gentle, long simmer helps extract flavors, melding them beautifully.
  6. Umami Boost: A dash of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce can elevate the overall taste profile.

How Do You Fix Tasteless Chicken Soup?

  1. Season Smartly: Don’t be shy with salt. It’s the simplest fix to a bland soup.
  2. Acidic Touch: A squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can brighten the flavors.
  3. Fat is Flavor: A bit of butter or olive oil can add richness.
  4. Fresh Herbs: Add fresh herbs like parsley or dill towards the end for a fresh flavor boost.
  5. Spice it Up: A pinch of cayenne or some freshly ground pepper can add layers to your soup.

Why Doesn’t My Chicken Soup Have Flavor?

  1. Underseasoning: The most common culprit. Salt is essential.
  2. Insufficient Simmering: Not simmering long enough can result in a lackluster broth.
  3. Poor-Quality Ingredients: Using old vegetables or low-quality chicken can affect taste.
  4. Water Ratio: Too much water can dilute the flavors. Ensure a good balance.
  5. Lack of Fat: Chicken skin and bones add richness and depth.

How Can I Increase the Flavor of My Chicken Broth?

  1. Roast Bones: Roasting chicken bones before making the broth can add a deep, roasted flavor.
  2. Add Umami: Ingredients like mushrooms or a piece of Parmesan rind can add umami.
  3. Mirepoix Magic: A traditional French mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) adds a flavor base.
  4. Spice it Right: Don’t forget to add bay leaves, whole peppercorns, or garlic for subtle flavor enhancements.
  5. Reduce: Let the broth reduce after straining to concentrate the flavors.

What Gives Soup a Good Taste?

  1. Quality Ingredients: Fresh, high-quality ingredients are the foundation of tasty soup.
  2. Layering Flavors: Start with a base of sautéed onions, then build layers by adding ingredients at different stages.
  3. Balance of Elements: A good balance of salt, fat, acid, and heat brings out the best in your soup.
  4. Freshness Factor: Fresh herbs added towards the end preserve their vibrant flavors.
  5. Personal Touch: Don’t forget a personal twist, be it a secret spice or a family ingredient!

For chicken soups that pop, try out some of these flavor combinations:

Seasoning VariationIngredientsFlavor Profile
Classic ComfortThyme, bay leaf, parsley, black pepperTraditional, herbal, comforting
Spicy KickCayenne pepper, paprika, garlicSpicy, bold, warming
Asian TwistGinger, soy sauce, star aniseAromatic, umami-rich, slightly sweet
Mediterranean CharmOregano, basil, lemon zestBright, herbaceous, zesty
Rustic CountrySage, rosemary, smoked paprikaEarthy, smoky, hearty
Herb GardenDill, chives, tarragonFresh, light, green
Indian InfusionTurmeric, cumin, corianderWarm, spicy, complex
Latin FlavorsCilantro, lime, chili powderVibrant, zesty, bold

I told you it would be easy! Now, are you ready to grab your ingredients and make the best chicken soup of your life?! Comment below on how the tips worked for you and share this recipe far and wide. Let’s tell the world the secrets to great chicken soup! Enjoy!

best homemade chicken soup

Course: DinnerCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

2

hours 

Step into a world of warm, comforting smells and tastes of the most flavorful chicken soup out there! Perfectly seasoned chicken breast, aromatic broth, and soft carrots create a taste like no other soup!

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts, patted dry with a paper towel

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced

  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 4 cups organic chicken broth

  • 1 to 2 chicken bullion cubes, to taste

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh or dried herbs to taste (oregano, thyme, parsley)

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • 1 cup uncooked egg noodles

Directions

  • In a large silver pot on medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 chicken breasts over medium high heat. Cook each side 5-6 minutes and remove. Set aside on a plate.
  • Add diced onions and carrots to the bottom of the same pot and cook 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
  • Add 1 tablespoon flour to carrot/onion mixture. Cook 1 minute.
  • Add 4 cups chicken broth to the pot. Be careful with the steam. It’s hot! Stir.
  • Add salt, pepper, herbs, and chicken bullion cubes. Simmer on low uncovered for an hour or two.
  • 10 minutes before soup is done, add the uncooked egg noodles.
  • Serve soup hot preferably with oyster crackers or saltines.

Notes

  • Spices, herbs, and salt and pepper are to your own taste preference.

Craving more delicious recipes? Try these: Copycat Outback Steakhouse Bloomin Onion