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Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Slow cooker chicken noodle soup is just one of those recipes you need in your back pocket for busy nights. This version is hearty and can be made stovetop in under 30 minutes if you’d rather, or set it and forget it for later. 

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You have popped open one too many canned soups.

Gone are the days of chicken and stars and now you’re on a mission for better flavor and health.

This version lets you freeze a batch for convenience and it’s way more satisfying as those little slimy noodles in the Campbell’s can.

The miracle of chicken broth and meat stock: It’s true.

Because we are using bones with meat on them (in this case a whole chicken) we call this a meat stock. Meat stock is better absorbed and is easier to digest than bone broth and it’s full of nourishing fat, collagen and minerals to boost immunity and soothe illness. I drink meat stock daily to help my autoimmune disease.

Look for a better chicken

I’d love for us to all eat chicken raised on grass and bugs. We call those pastured chickens and they can be 1) hard to find and 2) about $30 each. So, get the best chicken you can afford.

Look for one that is air chilled instead of chlorine dipped and free of antibiotics. Hormones have been banned in chicken for several years so don’t fall for that marketing trick. Katie’s Best is our favorite store brand.

If your budget won’t allow, just get whatever you can afford. Chicken soup from a regular bird is still better than pulling through McDonald’s for nuggets.

Tips for the best slow cooker chicken noodle soup

  • Skip the temptation to add bouillon cubes or powder. The salt levels are not just unpredictable, they can ruin a recipe. The slow cook time will still make a great rich broth and you can season it yourself.
  • If you can’t get a whole chicken, use 3 to 4 pounds of legs, bone-in thighs or breasts. You do need bones and ideally skin in this recipe for flavor.
  • Save back some of your fresh herbs to add during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Fresh herbs never survive the slow cooking process with a ton of flavor intact.
  • Cut your vegetables all about the same size for even cooking.
  • If you are short on time, this recipe can be made in 30-45 minutes on the stove top. If I was doing that, I might start with a good boxed chicken stock or some homemade stock to boost the flavor.

Is it better to cook the noodles before adding to the soup?

Noodles cooked in the soup have much better flavor than those cooked separately in water. However, you need to make sure they don’t go to mush.

  • Make sure to add the noodles during the last 30 minutes of cooking only.
  • If you aren’t going to eat the entire batch at once (this recipe serves 4-6 hungry eaters) take out the part you want to save for later and add noodles only to the part you plan to eat right then.
  • Add noodles to frozen soup only after it has been reheated to a simmer. Never freeze cooked egg noodles.

I use egg noodles here but you could easy swap in rice or small pasta like Ditalini for a fun change. You would want to adjust how much of each you use though: It’s not a 1:1 swap. Check out this chicken and rice recipe for inspiration.

Step 1: Add water, vegetables, and seasonings to the slow cooker.

Step 2: Add your whole chicken or parts. There’s no need to rinse your chicken either–food safety guidelines now discourage that practice. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low for 6-7.

Step 3: Once cooked, remove the chicken and separate the meat. Discard the skin and bones or save and freeze the bones for one more round of stock. Shred the meat with your fingers or two forks.

Step 4: Taste the broth for seasoning adjustments and add more salt if needed. Add the noodles and any remaining fresh herbs you may have held back along with the shredded chicken to the pot.

Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes.

If you want to freeze any of your soup, take that part out now before adding noodles and reduce the amount of pasta going in the pot.

How to freeze homemade chicken noodle soup

This soup freezes great! Just leave the noodles out. Cool the soup to room temperature and transfer it to your choice of air tight container or a jar. If you use a jar, leave 3 or so inches of head room for it to expand. It will last 3 months or more easily frozen.

Thaw overnight in the fridge then heat to boiling, or drop it frozen into a pot and heat until thawed and boiling, add noodles and serve.

To make this chicken soup on the stove top

Keep all ingredients the same but cut the chicken up to help it cook evenly. You can cut up your own chicken or use legs or thighs and things will go much easier. Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a large pot and cook until the chicken is no longer pink and reaches 165 degrees–about 30 to 40 minutes or so. Shred the chicken, discard the skin and bones and add the noodles and chicken back to the pot. Simmer to soften the noodles–about 10 minutes–serve.

Eat more chicken

Looking for more? Try these recipes!

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Slow cooker chicken noodle soup is just one of those recipes you need in you back pocket for busy nights. This version is hearty and can be made stovetop in under 30 minutes if you'd rather, or set it and forget it for later. 
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 365kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup carrots peeled and sliced into 1/4" pieces
  • 3/4 cup celery sliced in to 1/4" pieces
  • 3/4 cup onion chopped about the size of the carrots or celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 whole chicken about 3 pounds
  • 3 cups egg noodles uncooked

Instructions

  • In the crock of your slow cooker, add the water, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and stir well. 
  • Add in the whole chicken and cover with the lid. 
  • Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and peel away the skin and shred the meat. Return the chicken to the slow cooker. 
  • Add the noodles, put the lid back on and cook until they soften--about 20 minutes more. 

Notes

To freeze, portion out the amount you want to freeze before you add the noodles and put fewer noodles in your main pot. 

Nutrition

Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 716mg | Potassium: 420mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3817IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2mg

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