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Chicken soup with noodles

Fri, 15 January, 2021

Grandma's chicken soup, clear and gorgeous broth with the most intense flavour - thank's to a secret ingredient - and egg noodles.

chicken soup

The mythical cold-fighting miracle, chicken soup is the heights of comfort food. But it is also an everyman of the soup world: Everysoup, so to speak.

Various versions of chicken soup

It is Jewish, and Chinese, Japanese and Polish.

It is broth, it is consommé; it is ramen and it is Bovril (I know: beef, but keep reading). And it is also rosól, the Polish version of chicken soup I was brought up on.

Sometimes the soup has the chicken meat in it, carefully stripped off the choicest cut of the bird, having been delicately poached in the broth. And sometimes, like in my case below, it’s nearly free food: chicken carcass bummed off the butcher plus egg noodles as a filler.

chicken soup with noodles

Polish chicken soup

The Polish version, the one that throws me back to the depth of 1970s, is the clear, no floating chicken meat variant. Bizarrely, the Polish chicken soup is often made with beef. What the what? Indeed.

But that weird fact aside (simply, Polish ‘rosól’ means ‘meat broth’ and it can be made either with poultry or beef, under the same moniker. Yeah, THAT’S weird), my Grandma made the best one ever. A mythical, epic, staggering dish consisting of crystal-clear chicken broth and homemade noodles.

clear chicken broth with noodles

Grandma’s chicken soup

My Grandma’s chicken soup was of the chickenless variety (meat was stripped off the cooked bird and magicked into a main course of wonderful sorts), with homemade noodles compensating for any complaints in that resort.

I am NOT going to attempt the noodles: my pasta-making efforts have showed me humility enough. But I can try to reproduce her soup, whose secret was amazingly simple. Aside from good quality chicken and plenty of vegetables, she’d flavour it with burnt onion. Literally burnt. Smouldering and black.

grandma's chicken soup

How I make my Grandma’s chicken soup

I can and I can’t reproduce it; Grandma had an old-fashioned Aga stove and I have induction. But the onion can be scorched in a dry frying pan, cast iron for preference and otherwise one you won’t miss much if it’s slightly ruined.

Apart from that, my recipe is simple and frugal. You can get chicken carcasses free from the butcher’s; supermarket shoppers might use a whole load of chicken wings instead, but it will be fatty. Not that there’s an awful lot of wrong with it, it’s just a small caveat.

Either way, cooking the chicken soup is a doddle: chicken, cold water, vegetables, seasoning, MY GRANDMA’S ONION and cooking slow and low for as long as you can, within reason.

The veg I usually use are plenty of carrots, half as many parsnips, a piece of celeriac, a trimmed leek, a little cabbage if I can find some and a few dried wild mushrooms that give the soup nice, dark, earthy flavour. And the ONION, obviously.

Once it’s simmered for a bit or more, or once you’re hungry enough to call it done, it is done.

chicken soup with egg noodles

Noodles for the chicken soup

Trust me – medium egg noodles for stir fries are the closest approximation of my Grandma’s noodles and they are the best.

I prepare them when my soup looks almost ready to jump into a bowl. A nest of soaked and drained noodles at the bottom of the bowl, a few slices of the carrot fished out of the soup and chopped, a sprinkle of fresh parsley – and it all gets gorgeously flooded by hot but not boiling, strained clear through a regular sieve, beautiful* chicken soup.

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup.

*apparently, ‘beautiful soup’ is some sort of coding or web scraping tool, whatever it means. Curiouser and curiouser!

Chicken soup with noodles

Servings: 4Time: 3 hours


  • 2 chicken carcasses (butchers will give them away for free)
  • 1 tbsp. salt plus more to taste
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 2-3 dried wild mushrooms (optional)
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • a piece of celeriac, swede or turnip
  • a few cabbage leaves or half a leek
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • To serve:
  • medium dried egg noodles or vermicelli
  • finely chopped fresh parsley


1. Place the chicken carcass in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add salt, peppercorns and dried mushrooms if using, cover and slowly bring to a simmer.

chicken carcass for soup

2. Wash and roughly chop the vegetables except the onion. When the broth is simmering, add the vegetables and cover again.

how to cook chicken soup

3. Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle until smoking. Halve the onion horizontally and place it, cut side down, on the skillet. Open all the windows to get rid of the burning smell. Scorch the onion for a few minutes until the cut surface is burnt.

burnt onion

4. Add the onion to the soup and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

the best chicken soup

5. Add the soy sauce and sugar, taste for seasoning and add salt and black pepper as needed.

6. Keep the soup on the simmer as you prepare the noodles or vermicelli according to the packet instructions, al dente. Drain and divide between serving bowls.

7. Strain the soup into a clean pan, fish out and slice a carrot in if you like. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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