Whether it's full of rice, egg noodles, spaghetti, rice noodles, heck, even quinoa — there are few things more comforting than chicken soup. But let’s be honest: The classic chicken, carrot, celery, and onion can get old fast. Here are 31 healthy (and delicious) ways to spice up the classic chicken soup, for any time of year.
What better way to start than with the classics? There's no long-cooking whole chicken broth on this list, but these are a few more traditional variations.
1. 30-minute Quick and Easy Classic Chicken Soup
It doesn't have to take six hours to make a pot of chicken soup. This recipe takes just 30 minutes and doesn’t sacrifice on ingredients or flavor.
2. Chicken and Dill Soup
Adding a bunch of dill to chicken soup is one of the most classic seasonings — and also one of the most delicious. This is a super simple, super cheap, and even more super delicious recipe for classic chicken soup! Serve it with rice or noodles.
3. Chicken and Rice Soup
When noodles aren’t an option, rice is the way to go. Opt for brown rice for an extra dose of fiber.
4. Chicken and Spring Vegetable Soup
Don’t be afraid to switch up the veggies in a pot of chicken soup to stay in-season. In spring and summer, options like fresh herbs, asparagus, snap peas, and zucchini make great additions. Try a recipe like this one and switch in the vegetables for whatever looks best in the produce section (or whatever’s on hand in the freezer!).
5. Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Eating a creamy soup that doesn’t actually have any cream is like getting away with a little lie: feel like you’re indulging but without dealing with the guilt later. It’s the milk and flour mixture in this recipe that makes it a silky-smooth winner.
6. Vegetarian “Chicken” Soup
No, we’re not talking fake “chicken.” This is just the classic chicken soup base (but made with veggie broth, of course), sans chicken.
Inventive Takes on the Classic
So what do we mean by “inventive?” Try swapping noodles for quinoa; carrots and celery for pumpkin and corn; or rice for farro. These recipes might sound a little out there but their winners in our book.
7. Chicken Soup with Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, and Corn
Forget the carrots and celery. This take on chicken noodle opts for rich pumpkin, sweet potato, and fresh corn to fill the broth. (Pictured above)
9. Poached Chicken Soup with Amaranth Greens and Quinoa
How’s that for a new ingredient? Amaranth is a teeny tiny grain (much like quinoa) that also comes in the form of super-healthy greens. Add a bushel to broth with chicken and quinoa for a super chic version of classic chicken and veg, or swap in other greens like collards or bok choy instead.
10. Chicken Soup Noodles
If you’re that person who always ends up taking all the “good stuff” from the soup and leaving behind the broth, this recipe will be a new favorite. Basically, you just cook all the “good stuff” together — noodles, chicken, and veggies — and eat it as-is! Plus, there’s no guilt for leaving behind all the broth.
11. Chicken Pot Pie Soup Let’s be honest: the crust on a chicken pot pie is pretty boss, but the insides? That’s where the real comfort food lies. So we have good news: the insides are super simple to make and can serve as a great soup! Pack it with veggies, some potatoes, chicken, and (healthy) creamy goodness.
12. Almond Chicken Soup
We know — putting almond butter in soup sounds weird. But trust us on this one. The nut butter creates a slightly creamy texture and rich flavor without all the extra butter and cream. (In fact, this recipe contains no butter or cream.)
13. Butternut Squash and Chicken Stew
Curry powder gives this perfect fall stew a unique flavor. The chicken adds some meat (pun intended) to the texture and the squash is packed with fiber. (Check out my modified version of this recipe here!)
14. Chicken Stir Fry Soup
This might just be the fastest way to transform one dish into another. Make a chicken stir fry… and then add broth and rice. Bam! Chicken stir-fry soup.
15. Spicy Chicken, Vegetable, and Quinoa Soup
This chicken soup is more spice-filled than spic-y. Quinoa cooks up quicker than rice or noodles (major plus!) and the veggie mix in this soup is a bit more inventive than the classic carrots and celery, too (and includes lots of herbs!).
16. Chicken, Lentil, and Barley Soup
This is like the ultimate marriage of three favorite soup classics: chicken and veggie, lentil, and barley. It’s full of veggies and spices, and packed with protein from the chicken and lentils.
17. Lemony Chicken Soup with Dill, Coriander, and Orzo
The addition to coriander and orzo to this chicken soup base makes for a unique flavor and texture, while adding in some lemon and egg reference the Greek version of chicken soup, Avgolemona (more on that later). A diverse soup to say the least!
It's time to get multicultural. While Americans typically fall back on the ol' chicken noodle staple, there are similar chicken-based soups in tons of other cultures around the world. Here's a sneak peak at some of them, plus other ways to change the flavor profile beyond carrots and celery.
18. Chicken and Avocado Soup
We all know chicken and avocado go perfectly in tacos or burrito bowls (thanks for that revelation, Chipotle!), but in soup? Surprisingly, the combination of big chunks of avocado with the warm chicken broth, scallions, and lime makes for a slightly creamy and rich soup that doesn’t overdo it on calories.
19. Coconut Lime Chicken Soup
This is just about the most simple Asian-inspired chicken soup out there. In fact, it won’t take more than 20 minutes! Ginger and lime create a light and refreshing flavor, while the coconut milk gives some body and creaminess.
21.Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup The addition of chipotle is clearly the twist in this hot recipe. Combined with cumin and lime, the chipotle peppers give this soup a slightly spicy, rich flavor that’s super comforting.
22. Asian Chicken and Chili Soup
Using hot chili sauce in this soup’s broth means no having to chop up super-spicy peppers by hand. Score! Plus, it’s super simple and ready in less than 30 minutes.
23. Peruvian Chicken Soup (Aguadito)
The originality factor for this recipe is that the chicken stays on the bone! Not to mention the cilantro sauce that’s used as the flavoring for the broth. Combine that with corn, peppers, and other spices and this one’s a sure winner.
24. Pho “Ga” (with Chicken)
Chicken Pho is (more or less) the Vietnamese version of the classic chicken noodle. It’s basically a combo of rice noodles, herbs and spices, broth, vegetables, and a beat of some sort.
25. Coconut Curry Chicken Soup
Curry is simple to make at home, even though it can require a few handfuls of ingredients. This curry soup cuts down the ingredient list a bit, relying on curry paste, fish sauce, and coconut milk for flavor. Add to that veggies, chicken, and vermicelli (very thin rice noodles), and you’ve got a filling dinner!
26. Arroz Caldo (Filipino Chicken and Rice Soup)
Ginger and fish sauce easily transform this otherwise-bland chicken and rice soup into a Filipino comfort food. Plus, this recipe can be made in about 30 minutes.
27. Lebanese Chicken Soup
The key to this soup? Cinnamon. The rest of the ingredients are pretty classic. But, we promise, the cinnamon adds something very, very special.
28. Chicken Gumbo
This slow cooker recipe is packed with all the good stuff — Andouille sausage, veggies, rice, herbs, and — duh — chicken. It takes about 40 minutes to prep, but the time is worth it.
29. Chicken Mushroom Soba Soup Soba is one of those things that’s so comforting and delicious as takeout it seems too tough to make at home. Wrong! This recipe is a snap, and tasty thanks to all those shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy, buckwheat noodles (soba), and superfood ginger.
30. Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)
This is a Greek classic. Sometimes it’s made without pieces of chicken (just the broth) but this version is the perfect texture with little pieces of vegetables and chicken throughout. Make it with rice or orzo.
31. Thai Red Curry Noodle Chicken Soup
Let’s end this list on a spicy note! This soup is seasoned with fish sauce and thai red curry paste, plus a little sugar, lime juice, and fresh herbs. It’s just as authentic as it is delicious!
What’s your favorite take on the classic chicken noodle? Share with us in the comments below or join the conversation on twitter with Kate at @ksmorin.