Soup Up Your Chicken Soup Article -
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Soup Up Your Chicken Soup

Knock hours off of the cooking time and still end up with soup that tastes even better than from-scratch. Just start with a rotisserie chicken and chicken broth from the can or carton.

I have developed a basic formula, so whether I feel like a simple chicken noodle soup, a more elaborate curried chicken-vegetable soup, or an Italian-inspired chicken tortellini soup, the directions, proportions, and method are the same.

Actually, because the Fast Chicken Soup Base makes almost 4 quarts, you can prepare two different soups, if you'd like. Just use half of the soup base and half of the suggested ingredients in the chart, then proceed as directed. Let the remaining soup base cool before covering and refrigerating up to three days. Then try another "soup du jour," using half the ingredients called for.

These soups (at right) are warm and comforting enough to heal the sick, but they are really intended for the work-weary cook who needs to prepare a soul-satisfying meal in a bowl--quickly.

Copyright 2004 USA Weekend and columnist Pam Anderson. All rights reserved.

Jun. 20, 2009 1:29 pm
I have used much the same method with great results. The rotisserie chicken and chicken broth add a great deal of flavor and greatly reduce the time. In my soup base I cook the carrots, onions, and celeary in some oil well seasoned for the base then add additional vegees if desired later. I wish I had read your article a long time ago. Thanks for the tips for a great chicken soup.
Sep. 10, 2009 9:23 am
I make chicken soup all the time in the winter and I love the idea of changing the flavors into curry and italian, I will try these methods this winter for sure! I almost always use precooked chicken (rotisserie) because of it's ease on time and it's great on flavor too. If I want to make my soup a bit more "full" I cook in a bit of flour at the beginning stages when I'm cooking the veggies together. This will make my chicken soup go from a "broth" style to a "creamier" style... without adding any cream. Thanks for the ideas on variations of flavors!
Sep. 13, 2009 2:16 pm
Maine winters call for soup or stews, and as basic as this is, it sounds perfect for our cold months. I will definitely try it with curry, as my best man's (next year's wedding) family is from India. I've always love a new twist on the classics and never thought of it. Hope my 3 girls don't object!
Oct. 1, 2009 10:37 am
Another great veggie to add to chicken soup for a fuller soup is butternut squash. It makes it thicker and adds great flavor. I usually boil the sqash in the broth until soft while sauteing the chicken and veggies.
Oct. 15, 2009 12:49 pm
I have the easiest soup recipe ever! Buy or make chicken stock add a can of tomatoes and a can of V8 juice. Then add a package fo Voila garlic chicken. Be careful not to overcook it or the pasta will not do well. You don't even have to add more chicken. It is the best, quick soup in the world!
Oct. 20, 2009 12:31 pm
Best soup is to sweat the vegetables (Italian trinity..onion, carrots, celery) with salt and pepper to taste in canola or olive oil, use chicken wings - cover with water while vegetables are sweating in another dish, bring to boil wash and combine everything in a fresh pot.. add pasta and/or potatoes, and at the end add dill and parsley... sometime we through in a skinned tomato, for the slightly sour taste
Oct. 20, 2009 12:35 pm
forgot ..salt and peper to taste at the very end while still hot before adding the greens.. and add if soup is not hearty enough for you, add a table spoon of olive oil or butter(if you skip the chicken and go for veggie version of this)
Nov. 17, 2009 11:05 am
I'll keep your article in mind for a quick soup but I still prefer to make my own stock cutting down on sodium. My father gave me a tip from a restaurant he used to frequent that made great soup. You still simmer the chicken but when preparing the vegetables instead of discarding the onion skin, potato & carrot peelings and whatever other vegetables you might be using, throw it all in the pot (I wash it all first) makes for a very hearty chicken broth, and you won't be using twice the veggies
Dec. 10, 2009 8:42 am
We make chicken soup basically with chicken parts and adding crushed garlic, carrots, potatoes, celery, and onions and boiling it all together. When we make curry and/or roasted chicken, we pour the leftover gravy from the chicken pan into the soup, which makes it thicker and really adds to the flavor.
Dec. 12, 2009 2:47 am
Why strain and waste the veggies. I just pull the chicken and debone it. Cut up the meat and toss it back in. I use 3 good sized, skin on chicken thighs and my soup tastes great. ps; don't forget to add a tablespoon of yellow mustard.....
Jan. 6, 2010 3:39 pm
I made chicken soup in 20 minutes last weekend using my juicer. I was amazed! It was an experiment that actually worked. I simply began with chicken broth and juiced the following: carrots, celery, tomato, green onion, garlic, and a little bit of yellow onion. After I added the juiced veggies to the broth, I completely cheated with the chicken. I defrosted it in the microwave, cut it into small pieces, and boiled it (with a chicken bullion cube) for a few minutes until it was cooked through minutes. While the chicken was boiling I threw in some noodles and chopped up pieces of carrots and celery that I added those into the mixture. I allowed the chicken to simmer in the mixture for 5 more minutes... and it was DONE. I didn't need to add any additional flavor. Hope this helps!
Jan. 11, 2010 3:50 am
Regarding your new chicken soup receipe....I think your "old" method was flawed in that you boiled the vegetables for "hours" I have been making chicken soup for years and years using my grandmother's receipe. I usually add my vegetables after the chicken comes to a boil. Then I cook the soup only for about 1 1/2 hours. Also after deboning the chicken and cutting up the carrots and putting them back into to the broth Isometimes add tiny meatballs to the soup. Also only add pasta/noodles to the exact amount of soup you are going to consume and cook it in the soup. Save the rest of the soup for future bowls of soup when you then cook more pasta/noodles in the soup. That way the pasta/noodles don't taste over cooked and mushy. I live alone so I only cook enough for myself. Yes I am Italian,( added meatballs are an Italian thing) although we never called it Italian Wedding Soup like some do.
Jan. 16, 2010 8:45 pm
I have made soup many times from the leftover rotisserie chickens and from raw chicken, as another person commented it doesn't take hours, a good 1 1/2- 2 hrs is fine. I also don't want to miss the healthy collagen that comes out of the soup bones when being cooked in the broth. The recipie above is good once in a while but I will stick to my soup with the bones!
Gail Clark 
Jan. 22, 2010 6:59 am
Thanks for all the TIPS.........I will keep them all in mind when making my next pot of Chicken soup.
Jan. 23, 2010 11:29 pm
I remove all the easy to pull chicken meat from the rotisserie chicken and stick it in the frig. Then I take the carcass, juice, etc. and cover it with a carton of organic, low-sodium chicken broth. Toss in the leftover frozen fresh veggie parts from the last week or two (as long as they are well washed and not rotted, use ALL the skins, stems, etc.) and of course, onion and tons of fresh minced garlic and THAT is what I cook for an hour or so. I strain all the bones and cooked veggies out, toss em to the wildlife on the back 40, and refrigerate the broth for use all week. Skim off the fat on top when the broth cools. Then make any kinda soup you want, you are starting off with your own strained, clear and tasty chicken broth! Hint: do NOT add salt or bullion until you are nearly done with your final soup, whether it be veggie, dumpling base, meatball, etc. Add the salt during the last 15 minutes or so, especially if any beans are involved. Good luck and thanks for the tip, I just star
Jan. 23, 2010 11:32 pm
Oh, by the can add the chicken meat back in...for your actual soup. Dont waste the meat in making the broth...the bones, fat, juice and skin have plenty of brothiness on their own. Save that chickie for your final result or slap a slice of cold Havarti cheese and a romaine lettuce leaf around a pile of it warmed up; the spousal unit will believe you are a god.
Jan. 24, 2010 12:51 pm
I blend the veggies used in the initial cooking of the broth and add them back. Gives lots of flavor and those kiddies don't know they are in there.
Jan. 30, 2010 6:44 am
A chicken soup time-saver: QUICKLY pull off your pre-cooked chicken meat (rotisserie or other) and set aside to add to the completed soup. Make the broth with the carcass, any remaining meat on the bones, any gel from cooled chicken juices, and throw in any veggie scraps(cleaned skins or tips). As the carcass cooks down, POUND IT, in the pot, with a potato masher, several times. That releases flavor and nutrition from the bones. When you strain, after cooking as long as you can (I do 1-3 hrs.), throw away everything solid. The flavor has long been cooked out of it anyway. Into the finished broth, throw and cook your fresh veggies. Finally, add the pre-cooked chicken meat. You will be amazed at the improved flavor--and it is SO MUCH BETTER THAN PICKING COOKED SHREADS OF MEAT FROM THE CARCASS! (It took me 30 years to figure this out.)
Susie Vue 
Feb. 24, 2010 5:59 pm
I grew up PA Dutch and my grandma taught me to boil the bird and vegies for 3 hours and strain everything and put some of the meat back in the broth along with dumplings, rivels, vegies or whatever. I got a rotisserie and discovered that the broth from a rotisserie chicken is much stronger and richer. Now, I cook chickens just to be able to make broth. I can't get enough soups now. You are right, you can't beat a rotisserie chicken for broth. I pull most of the meat off of it and cook the carcass an hour or so to get the broth. I use the bulk of the meat to make a meat pie or chicken salad or something like that.
Feb. 27, 2010 9:42 pm
I am a soup chef in a busy deli and have to make a lot of Chicken Soup! This is a new method I have developed for great soup! I bake at 375 for an hour boned chicken thighs in white wine, with generous sprinklings of salt pepper garlic onion thyme rosemary powder. I in the meantime sautee my onion celery and carrots in a very large pot. I add water and bring that up to flavor with more of the same spices again for the broth and allow to simmer about 10 min and shut down until I add my chopped chicken and broth from roasting pan. Simmer with noodles until all married and YUMMY
Feb. 27, 2010 9:49 pm
footnote from above; I do get to use bones from time to time at work ..but always save bones from baked chickens for stock and keep that on hand for all soups at home!!
Apr. 25, 2010 11:14 am
I make my own soup because I must not eat anything with preservatives. Sam's Club sells large cans of boiled chicken that are perfect for soup. It is 100% cooked and no chemicals. It is a real time saver.
May 28, 2010 8:06 pm
they call me the soup lady,i use pulled chix dice onions crushed garlic broc,mushroms longrain white rice wildrice chixbase cornstarch for thicking a can liquid chez sauce let simmer , util it cooks down, mmmm. The docter's love it mmmm. enjoy it. try it. love it!!!
May 31, 2010 11:40 am
Wow these were some of the best ideas I have ever heard. I use to make the broth from the chicken and veggies the long way. Now I have a lot of great new ideas. I especially liked the idea for putting in the noodles only for that serving. I can see how that would lend a really fresh taste. thanks to everyone.
Jun. 14, 2010 8:49 pm
I am glad to hear that I have been making my chicken soup the way it has been suggested. I use the Swanson broth and the recipe on the box, it is yummy and so quick, but like you say the real deal is the old fashioned way. Oh and did I say I love soup.
Clem H 
Jul. 13, 2010 6:48 am
I like all the reviews have been saying " Pam, where have you been all this time". That really cuts down on cooking time plus more importantly it has a much better flavor, mine has always been so bland.
Aug. 1, 2010 8:12 pm
I always use chicken broth. Sam's Club has large cans of boiled chicken. I cannot use a rotisserie chicken. They have preservatives in them. I must not eat anything with preservatives or I get sick. Thus, I cook and it is great fun experimenting.
Aug. 29, 2010 10:24 am
When I make homeade chicken noodle soup I simply use thebroth from my roasted chicken , which already has seasonnings and sometimes to be different iI cook my Homeade noodles on the side so my guest can simply add there own noodles if they wish as little or as lots of them, this way they are cooked just right...Hope this helps
Sep. 13, 2010 3:11 pm
I guess I'll give my secret hint - A tbs of sugar to the broth - NUM. P.S. Only simmer - never boil for a rich broth
Sep. 27, 2010 1:42 pm
I roast most of the vegees I use for chicken soup in a pan at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, bit of sage and sometimes oregano & marjoram (carrots,potatoes,celery, onions,leeks,garlic) along with any of the bones from the chicken. Remove bones add all the vegees to organic broth (two boxes), add spices, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and meat from a rotisserie chicken and simmer for about an hour. Sometimes I add tortellini at the last. As always when soup cools, remove any solidfied fat for heathier soup.
Oct. 6, 2010 4:56 am
I add fresh squeezed lemon juice to my chicken soup really gives it a nice zing & very yummy.
Oct. 7, 2010 11:08 pm
I like to add fresh ginger slices, cilantro, a couple of drops each of sesame oil and Chinese hot chili oil(which isn't that spicy,)and maybe some avocado slices to my basic chicken soup. Also, try dicing peeled baby carrots and quickly steaming in a bit of water in the microwave to add freshness and a little crunch.
Oct. 7, 2010 11:13 pm
P.S. I add all the items (in my previous posting) to the hot soup after serving it.
Oct. 12, 2010 8:50 am
Can't wait to make my next batch of Chicken Noodle Soup and try some of these variations along with making my first ever broth. Thanks everyone!
Oct. 22, 2010 6:16 am
How come no one adds cabbage leaves to the stock. When making the stock after adding all your other vegetables float 4 or 5 nice big cabage leaves on top and simmer along with the rest and remove after simmering the soup. It gives a real nice flavour.
Cindy Benedict 
Oct. 28, 2010 4:04 am
Instead of waiting for the broth to cool, put it in a mason jar and seal it. Then it will last much longer than three days in the refrigerator.
Renee D. 
Nov. 12, 2010 9:16 am
Try simmering whole carrots, celery, onion and chicken pieces in store bought chicken broth/stock. Strain. Place strained broth in new soup pot. Place some of the cooked veggies into a blender along with a half can of diced tomatoes and 2 cloves of garlic. Puree the veggies then add back to the stock. Add some "Better than Bouillon" chicken soup base and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Add chicken meat and some extra veggies. Little meatballs and chopped fresh spinach leaves also taste great in the soup. Simmer. Serve with orzo pasta and top with a drizzle of olive oil, grated cheese and fresh cracked black pepper. Very yummy.
Nov. 17, 2010 2:37 pm
I've been making chicken soup like that for years!!! It's the BEST way as well as easier. When making beef soup or cream soups, just before serving add a good nob of butter to the soup and stir in. It adds a wonderful flavour and the difference is like a plain soup and a gourmet soup. Do the dsame with gravy, especially if you use prepared gravy - it separates the men from the boys!!!
Nov. 17, 2010 2:41 pm
1 rotisserie chicken, cut up 1 tetra pack of chicken broth 1 cup water (to taste) chopped carrots, celery and minced onion (can saute veggies in olive oil first to soften and caramelize a little) Cook soup noodles separately and add to soup Taste for seasonings (salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley) for your own taste. Simple and delicious (takes fifteen minutes)
Nov. 19, 2010 5:48 pm
Use store bought cartons of broth or stock. Lightly simmer broth with quartered and sliced onion, few stalks of chopped celery, thick chunks of carrots, good teaspoon or more of celery seed, fresh or powdered garlic, salt and freshly cracked pepper. Add veggies and broth to Mrs. Weiss' Kluski noodles which you've cooked separately in water (or for best flavor, in additional broth.) I strongly recommend these noodles as they are so close in taste, texture and flavor of home made egg noodles. They come in a clear cellophane bag with blue lettering. The noodles look like they have been lightly coated in flour, just as they would be if made from scratch. You can also add torn greens to mixture at last minute for extra flavor and color. I use kale or spinach...and I don't even like cooked spinach but this is awesome!
Nov. 19, 2010 5:52 pm
Cont. from above: Oops, I forgot to menmtion the chicken. I cut up uncooked chicken breasts into chunks and sautee in a bit of oil until lightly browned. Season to taste with garlic powder and add to the veggie broth mixture. Allow to simmer a bit so flavors mingle.
Nov. 27, 2010 1:29 pm
only takes me like an 1-2 hours. I cut all veggies with chicken in boiling. steam the veggies till almost done in separate pans place in a bowl.( I put them in a bowl with liquid so i can reuse pans) While veggies are steaming strip chicken put in a pan with chicken stock boil. keep all liquid from steaming veggies put all in the pan with boiling chicken with chicken stock. Add water and seasonings.
Nov. 27, 2010 5:06 pm
I have found a good timesaver, and the taste is every bit as good, by saving the water from cooking the dinner vegetables, then tossing in the carcass after dinner and making the broth from this already vegetable-flavoured water I then store the broth (with the turkey bits added also,) in the freezer until ready to use.
Nov. 28, 2010 7:21 am
After my chicken or beef soup with veggies is done I strain the vegatables and blend them in my blender and add it to the soup--It makes the soup thicker and creamer and tasts dellious and you haven't wasted any thing
Jan. 6, 2011 11:05 am
You and I do this pretty much the same way. I love the fact that once you get the basics of almost any recipe, and if you love to experiment, you can come up with some really satisfying and happy meals that are healthy, pretty and fun to make. I love being in the kitchen and seeing happy faces eating what I have made. I know you all do too. Thanks for sharing your tips.
Mar. 2, 2011 11:37 am
Everyone's ideas look great!Personally, I use a rotisserie chicken (usually prepared at home), remove meat for later use and simmer carcass for 3-4 hours. Included would be any scrap veggies. Once done, I strain stock, cool until fat can be removed. For soup, pan roast any veggies to carmelize and add sweetness, add to stock with additional chicken and spices depending on the flavor profile I'm looking for that day. May puree some veggies to add thickness to soup. It's a winner!
Mar. 17, 2011 7:23 am
Great ideas from all. Been doin this for years Low sod ch broth. Rotisserie chicken(organic). Throw juices from chick in pot I cut lots carrots 1-2 sweet onions. 2 parsnips peeled 2 leeks whole. Trim top and bottom washed well. At very end when veggies almost soft I ad big bunch fresh parsley. I use flat. smell both curly and flat and choose. Wash well snip long stems and tie with string or thread And My secret ingredient is GEORGE WASHINGTONS CHICKEN BROTH. depending on how much soup I make. I can add 3 packets to 5or 6 packets. People can't figure it out they never tasted such great soup. A little old lady gave me the secret years ago. I have to get it online. Stores stopped carrying it.
Apr. 4, 2011 8:36 am
Well what I do is boil the chicken in 1/2 water 1/2 chicken stock. Use plenty of liquid this will be your soup broth! While chicken is boiling steam carrots,celery and anything else you might want in it. Until it is almost done. Don't discard any liquid from anything! Than use tongs and place chicken in bowl and take off bone. Put veggies and seasonings in chicken broth. Add the chicken and noddles When noodles are done soup is done. husband loves this and he doesn't like soup! After chicken is boiled only takes me like 20 mins!
Apr. 6, 2011 11:24 am
Just made my soup today with the left over beer butt chicken that I made yesterday.( found that recipe on ( All Recipe).Used 3 large boxes of chicken stock. ( I buy when on sale)any brand! Cut up carrots, celery,onions,and garlic and cook in butter until they sweat.Throw in the chicken stock,with a bay leaf. cook 30 minutes, then I add the cut up chicken,chopped fresh spinach, and a cup of medium size noodles! It is wonderful! Lots of pepper. I used to cook chicken soup the old way. Not know more!Took me 30-40 minutes tops!
Apr. 23, 2011 7:46 pm
A pressure cooker reduces cooking time of chicken by about half. The veggies worth saving can be pureed and added to stock. You can't add garlic and onion, thyme and rosemary to a rotisserie chicken.
Jun. 14, 2011 12:41 am
Thank you so much to Cookie for mentioning the George Washington Chicken Broth packets! I used to use Weight Watchers Chic Broth to fortify my soup if needed, but they stopped making that years ago and I haven't found anything like that again. I bet the George Washington will be a similar idea. Not all chickens are created equal. Sometimes you come across one that doesn't have much flavor. I always prepare my broth with chicken and bones that I brown first to heighten the flavor, but sometimes I still need more flavor. Thanks for the info!
Jul. 1, 2011 12:54 pm
Fabulous ideas here! We all seem to have our own way of making chicken soup. Most important of all is that we continue to make it! My dear Grandma made the best! Back then she would go to the poultry store, pick out the (LIVE) chicken she wanted & take it home already cleaned, wrapped in paper & string, ready to put in the pot! She also cooked the noodles (in her younger days - homemade) in a separate pot and served them that way. My Grandfather preferred just crackers with his, so I suppose that's why she did this. The tradition lives on in the family - we all (STILL) serve them in a separate bowl on the table. Some of the younger family members have begun asking for (my) homemade seasoned croutons in place of either noodles or crackers. Try it! I did, and I like it that way too!
Sep. 18, 2011 5:34 am
Being of Jewish decent, chicken soup is a big thing in our family, it's very much a comfort food when very tired, run down or ill. I will give your ideas a go as I start from scratch, which I do not always have time for. Thanks for your advice.
Sep. 19, 2011 7:40 pm
I love all of these ideas, but I've never tried to make my own soup before. I'm pretty picky about what I eat, as far as spices I only eat garlic and salt, lol. I don't eat tomatoes or celery in soups. So I have a couple questions. First off I will use diced chicken from our Ingles Deli with store bought chicken stock. I want to have potatoes, corn, garlic, baby carrots, and a small onion (for flavor, we don't eat onions themselves. My problem is that I'm not sure of any of the amounts, as far as water v/s stock, and about the slow cooker times? since my chicken will be fully cooked, how long will the ingredients take to come together? Will adding small amounts of flour help thicken the soup? And since I am using potatoes, would adding a type of noodle (or rice) make it too starchy? I would like to have potatoes and white rice. I am wanting to make this all in a crock pot, no other cooking then transferring to other dishes. Any advice for my picky recipe idea? Any comments would be app
Sep. 20, 2011 3:51 pm
I just recently learned about using the rotisserie chicken carcass after deboning and adding water, boil and strain for broth for chicken soup. I always hated to throw all that good juice and carcass away. Now, when I have a chicken and don't want to make soup right away, I freeze the broth for next time I wantto make soup. Thanks for the tips...
Sep. 24, 2011 5:28 pm
I've always thought it a bit insane to put vegetables in the broth pot, then strain them out and throw them away. Put the veggies in the soup. The flavors end up in the broth that way, too ... and your body gets the nutrition it needs for the solid parts. If God had intended that we suck out the juice and throw the rest away, He'd have put a small drain valve on each and every vegetable.
Feb. 1, 2012 6:07 am
Mrs.Spayth, if you'll limit the use of spices & veg's, and you're adding rice, I'd experiment w/types of the less-bland rices, like basmati, and maybe consider a bit of lime juice for flavor, and maybe even a little cilantro.
Feb. 5, 2012 6:12 am
Here in Fl. we uses a grill and put a whole chicken on the other side away from the coals in a cast iron fry pan .Season the chicken up and it cooks it self with the lid closed and a small draft on the chicken side. The pan holds all the juices so you have your broth for the soup with the left over chicken from the night before dinner . Enjoy
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