This super easy method to making chicken soup can be used to make any number of servings using almost anything in your refrigerator and pantry and is as warm and comforting as a hug from your favorite person.
Because honestly, I can't help but think that we all need a few more ways to get dinner on the table in a not-precious but still delicious use-what-you-have kind of way. Also, we probably all need more hugs even if they come in the form of chicken soup.
Rotisserie Chicken Soup is part of our No Recipe Required series, a collection of quick and easy dishes that are more of an idea than a recipe.
How to make rotisserie chicken soup
You’ll find plenty of variations and ideas below, plus an actual recipe, but here’s the basic formula, which is really all you need:
- Cook some rice or noodles until just slightly underdone.
- In another pan, create a quick but super flavorful soup base by sautéing onions and garlic in oil until they’re soft. Then add some dried herbs, salt, a bit of mustard, and a pinch or two of sugar. By the way, no need to add the sugar if your veggies are super fresh and ripe (more about that later).
- Toss in whatever chopped veggies you like. Stir them around in the pan for a couple of minutes then add some broth. I use Better than Bouillon broth base and some water. Cover the pot and let the veggies simmer until done. Done, by the way, is whatever you decide tastes good to you. If you like your veggies super soft, cook them longer. If you like them crisp-tender, don't cook them quite as long.
- Add some shredded rotisserie chicken, some leftover roast chicken, or any kind of leftover cooked chicken, and a chopped fresh tomato if you have one.
- Add the rice or noodles and a splash of lemon juice or vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you like.
Substitutions and variations
Making rotisserie chicken soup takes less than 30 minutes and can easily be adjusted to whatever you have and what you like. Here are a handful of ideas just to get you started...
- This soup is equally delicious with any kind of rice or noodles, but you could also use orzo, pearl couscous, barley, or faro. Or, go a totally different direction and substitute cooked lentils or beans for the grains or noodles. OR, in addition to the grains or noodles. Cooking them separately allows you to ensure that the grains/noodles/legumes are cooked to the desired texture without overcooking or undercooking the veggies in the soup.
- For me, garlic and onions are non negotiable, but if you don’t want them in there, then leave them out. I have a friend who is super sensitive to both garlic and onions and so, when cooking for her, I often substitute chopped fennel and it’s delicious.
- Add whatever veggies you like. I made the soup you see here earlier this week and added chopped red bell pepper and zucchini. But, you do you and add whatever kind of veggies you like. One thing to keep in mind is how long different vegetables take to cook. If you’re going to add peas, for example, which take no time at all to cook, add them at the last minute. Whereas, if you wanted to add chunks of butternut squash or potatoes, you’d want to allow enough time for them to get nice and soft.
- If you like a soupy kind of soup, add more broth. If you prefer a thicker soup, add less. Speaking of broth…
Pro tip! A delicious soup shortcut
I currently have 5 different jars of Better than Bouillon in my refrigerator because it’s honestly one of the best culinary shortcuts especially if you have limited space in your kitchen, which I most definitely do. (My husband and I live, work, and travel full-time in a 5th wheel RV.)
My favorite is their veggie base. It’s rich and flavorful and about a million times better than any kind of vegetable broth you’ll find in a jar, carton, or can.
The ingredients that will elevate your chicken soup game
Most of us have a variety of ingredients hanging out in the refrigerator and pantry just waiting to transform the next pot of soup from something delicious to something extraordinary. The following ingredients add fresh flavor and rich umami elements that transform every bite into something layered and multi-dimensional.
- Mustard, vinegar, and/or lemon juice. These three ingredients add acid and complex flavor to this soup, taking it from tasty-but-basic, to bright, flavorful, and with a rich depth of flavor generally reserved for longer cooking times.
- Quick pickled onions take 30 minutes to prepare and add bright, fresh flavor on tacos, nachos, salads, sandwiches, black bean soup and rotisserie chicken soup.
- Sugar. I add a pinch of sugar to nearly every kind of soup or stew I ever make. Here’s the thing - if I had a garden in my backyard packed with fresh-grown vegetables picked at the pinnacle of ripeness, the pinch of sugar would be unnecessary because the veggies themselves would add enough sweetness to the soup to balance everything out. If you have such a garden, you (lucky duck!) can probably leave the sugar out. Same if you have a box of fresh veggies from your local farm or coop. For those of us relying on supermarket veggies, a bit of sugar makes up for the fact that most are picked when they’re underripe and therefore lacking in some of their natural sweetness. You don’t need to add much. Start with a teaspoon at most, then add more only if you think it needs it.
- A chopped tomato tossed in at the end of cooking adds some fresh flavor that would be lacking if you added the tomato earlier in the process. Another way to get that bright, fresh flavor is to add a handful of fresh herbs at the end of cooking.
- Marinated roasted bell peppers, homemade or from a jar.
- Other delicious umami-rich additions include using soy sauce instead of salt, adding a few anchovies or a bit of anchovy paste anchovy paste, or stirring in a spoonful of miso paste.
Important tip for when to add herbs: Add dried herbs at the beginning of cooking and fresh herbs at the end. Dried herbs need heat and some time to impart their flavor to the other ingredients. But, fresh herbs can lose some of their flavor and freshness when allowed to cook for a long time.
A few more riffs for not-so-basic chicken soup
Toss in some caramelized mushrooms. Yes, sliced mushrooms can be boiled in the broth, but they have so much more flavor when sautéed in a skillet with some butter and oil until they are golden brown and caramelized. So, when I want to add them to this soup, I caramelize them in a separate pan and then toss them into the soup along with the chicken.
Add some cooked bacon or Italian sausage. If starting with raw bacon or sausage, add it to the garlic and onions to cook it before adding the other ingredients.
Make vegan “chicken” soup by using one of the many vegan chicken substitutes available in most supermarket freezers.
Add some richness and flavor by topping bowls of chicken soup with a drizzle of olive oil and some shredded parmesan cheese. Also delicious are sautéed breadcrumbs or croutons.
What to serve with chicken soup
Two of the most popular things to serve with chicken soup are flaky buttermilk biscuits and buttery dinner rolls. But, a loaf of crusty bread, cornbread, or crackers are also the perfect accompaniment to warm bowls of soup.
Or, go for a classic soup and salad route combination and pair this soup with a tossed salad or a classic Israeli Salad.
Whatever you choose to serve with your chicken soup, this simple method is sure to become one of your favorite tricks to getting a healthy, delicious meal on the table in no time flat.
- 1 cup of rice, OR 4 ounces of egg noodles
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or canola or vegetable oil
- 1 small chopped yellow onion
- 4 or 5 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon of mustard (I used a grainy brown mustard)
- About a tablespoon of dried herbs (I used thyme and dill)
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar (omit if your veggies are fresh and sweet)
- 1 chopped red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 3 - 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, OR a tablespoon of Better than Bouillon chicken or vegetable base plus 3 - 4 cups of water
- 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken or any other kind of cooked chicken
- 1 chopped fresh tomato and/or a handful of fresh herbs
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar (white wine or rice vinegar), more to taste
- For serving (optional): A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some shredded parmesan cheese
- Cook the rice or noodles according to package instructions until the rice or noodles are slightly underdone. If cooking noodles, be sure to add enough salt to the water for
the water to taste salty. Once cooked, rinse noodles under cold water to stop
the cooking (no need to do this for rice).
- Add the olive oil, chopped onion, and chopped garlic to a saucepan and set it over medium heat. Cook, stirring every now and then, for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the mustard,
dried herbs, and sugar, and cook, stirring, for another minute or two.
- Add the chopped bell pepper and zucchini, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and cook for
another minute, stirring to toss the veggies around in the oil and herbs. Add
the broth (or Better than Bouillon and water), turn the heat up to high, and
bring it to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer,
and let the veggies cook until they are the right level of done for your taste
- Add the cooked chicken, chopped fresh tomatoes or fresh herbs, and the rice or noodles. Cook until everything is heated through. Off heat, add a tablespoon of lemon juice
or vinegar. Taste and add more vinegar or salt if you like.
- Serve bowls of soup topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some shredded parmesan cheese if you like.
Different kinds of broth come with different sodium levels, so be mindful of that when seasoning your soup.
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Serving Size:1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 455Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 1177mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 35g