From America's Test Kitchen Season 10: Chicken Classics, Reinvented
Sometimes we prefer a simple bowl of chicken soup—a brothy soup modestly enriched with chicken, noodles, and vegetables. Other times, a heartier version of chicken noodle soup is what we crave—one chock-full of chicken, noodles, and vegetables—a true meal in a bowl. We also wanted to find a way to produce such a soup without relying on a whole chicken for the stock.
We began by jump-starting the flavor of our soup with a mixture of store-bought chicken broth and water, but the broth-and-water base had a distinctly flat flavor. A few pounds of chicken parts created a wonderfully rich stock, but the method—browning the parts and then simmering them—was just too fussy for what we wanted here. Instead, we turned to a somewhat unlikely but more convenient substitute—store-bought ground chicken. Ground chicken offers more surface area and exponentially more flavor, providing a great-tasting stock when sautéed with aromatics and then simmered with the broth and water. All the stock needed was some body and thickening, which we found by adding a little cornstarch. With our broth down, we were ready to add the chicken (breasts that had been poached in the stock until just cooked through and then shredded), vegetables, and noodles. Along with onion, celery, and carrots, we further enriched the soup with potato and Swiss chard. Our streamlined hearty chicken noodle soup was now rich, and satisfying.
Serves 4 to 6
When skimming the fat off the stock, we prefer to leave a little bit on the surface to enhance the soup’s flavor. The soup can be prepared through the end of step 2 and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Store the chicken breasts in a zipper-lock bag with the air squeezed out and the stock in an airtight container.