12 Ways To Add Flavor To Chicken Noodle Soup

Whether you're feeling under the weather or are just simply in need of a comforting meal, chicken noodle soup is always the answer. Store-bought or homemade, this famous soup has been filling stomachs (and hearts) with warmth for as long as we've been trying to figure out which came first: the chicken or the egg. Chicken noodle soup is a classic, and while it is simple by nature, that doesn't mean your dish has to be boring.

From the broth to the finishing touches at the end, there are endless opportunities to sneak more flavor into your chicken noodle soup. Whether it's adding different spices, substituting the different elements of the soup for alternatives, or infusing flavors inspired by different cultures, let's explore a variety of creative ways to take this dish to the next level. No matter the occasion or season, keep these things in mind when you find yourself in need of a flavor-packed, chicken noodle soup pick-me-up.

Make your own mirepoix

If the word "mirepoix" doesn't mean anything to you, let us introduce this classic combination to your repertoire. A staple in French cuisine, this mix of finely chopped celery, onions, and carrots is meant to add flavor to dishes with its combination of aromatics and sweetness. When cooking a homemade chicken noodle soup, a flavorful chicken stock is critical to ensure that your dish has a strong base. Chop up these three vegetables, toss them in a fat of your choice until slightly caramelized, and boil them in water alongside the other ingredients of your stock.

If you're not making a homemade stock, a mirepoix can still be used as an easy way to upgrade any store-bought broth. While it might sound too good to be true, this minimalist approach truly is the simplest trick out there to ensure that your chicken noodle soup is off to a flavor-packed start. With this trifecta, it really is as easy as one, two, three.

Add fresh herbs

When it comes to sneaking flavor into chicken noodle soup, don't forget that seasoning is always on your side. We're not just talking about your basic dry seasonings, but the fresh herbs that can be added at various stages in the soup-making process to elevate its flavor. Recipes will list some of the basic seasonings to use, such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasonings. These additions are a given, but we're here to advise on the best freshly chopped herbs to take your soup a level above the rest.

At the beginning of the soup-making process, add fresh thyme stems and rosemary to flavor your broth with their notably strong scents and flavors, allowing them to soak into the soup early on. To top your herb-infused soup off, chopped parsley is the garnish that we all know and love. While it's mainly recognized for its vibrant green color, a handful of parsley to finish off chicken noodle soup will liven up your dish and freshen up the rest of your flavors. As a rule of thumb, if your recipe calls for these herbs as dry seasonings or powders, you'll want to use three times as much if using the fresh version.

Use lemon juice

We're no longer associating chicken noodle soup with gloomy, sick days. If you've been searching high and low for the missing ingredient in your homemade chicken noodle soup, a squeeze of citrus may be the final piece of the puzzle. Lemon can bring brightness to your dish to compliment the rest of the otherwise saltier flavors. The acidity of the lemon can cut through those other savory flavors, and bring a little bit of balance to your soup.

You might be thinking that something as strong as citrus might add too much of a punch to a soup that isn't known to have the most intense flavors, but we are here to advise on exactly how much, and when, you should be adding lemon juice to your chicken soup. Of course, there are some do's and don'ts when it comes to lemon in soup. Recipes incorporate anywhere from 1 to 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, at the discretion of the cook. However, if one thing is for certain, it's that lemon juice should always be added at the very end of the cooking process to avoid turning the lemon juice bitter. Give this tip a try and watch your chicken noodle soup come to life.

Try a Thai twist

Get adventurous with your chicken noodle soup and take it international by infusing it with some common Thai ingredients. Authentic Thai cuisine is known for its tangy, creamy, and sometimes, spicy flavors — often incorporating things like lemongrass, lime, coconut milk, and curry pastes. Adding things like lemongrass and lime will give your chicken noodle soup more of that tangy base, whereas the coconut milk will bring a creamy, richer taste to the dish. Curry paste is another Thai staple that can easily be incorporated into the base of the soup and is a great way to pack it with spicy flavors.

Mix and match or try them all together, but don't be afraid to play with any of these different flavor combinations. A Thai chicken noodle soup might also include rice noodles, traditionally used in Asian soup dishes, as another option to bring some variety to your meal. Whether you use one or more of these additions, giving your chicken noodle soup an Asian flare may be the trick to bringing it to the next level.

Increase the heat with peppers

If you're feeling spicy (literally), throwing some heat into a chicken noodle soup is a great way to add another layer of flavor to the dish. One way to do this is by taking the fresh route by chopping up some chili peppers, allowing them to cook in the soup broth, and infusing your base with some heat. We know that spice is not for the faint of heart, so to control for the heat levels choose the right chili for you from a wide array of chili peppers with varied degrees of spices.

The beauty of spice is that it is not one size fits all, and there are countless modes and methods of giving your soup that little extra kick it may be missing. Adding a hot sauce or hot chili paste is an alternative to fresh peppers and a quick solution to a soup that might otherwise be lacking in flavor. Even a squeeze of something, such as a classic Sriracha, to top off the dish can take a simple chicken noodle soup and make it a deliciously spicy experience.

Give it a creamy base

If your chicken noodle soup is still lacking, making a creamy rendition of this traditionally brothy soup will certainly elevate it. For our dairy lovers, including milk, butter, or heavy cream in the broth of your chicken noodle soup is a great way to not only make a lighter broth more filling, but more flavorful, as well. You can even whisk flour or cornstarch with your fat into the base to create a roux; a common way to make any broth thicker and more flavorful.

If you're looking for a non-dairy option, but an equally creamy experience, let's talk about dairy alternatives. If you choose the dairy-free milk route, we would recommend coconut milk for a lighter option, or cashew milk to add a hint of nuttiness to the soup. Another option that might seem a little off the beaten path is adding tahini. We all know and love hummus, but we'd like to draw attention to the secret to its creaminess and its true hidden hero: tahini. This sesame paste could be the key to creating the creamiest, dairy-free chicken noodle soup and enriching the overall flavor.

Be creative with your vegetables

While many of us associate chicken noodle soup with a classic combo of celery, carrots, and onions, who's to say that you can't use other vegetables to boost the flavor of your soup? The beauty of chicken noodle soup is its neutrality, which creates plenty of opportunities for new flavor combinations.

Seasoning is not the only way you can change the flavor of your dish, so let's explore some other creative options. You might consider using more umami-forward vegetables, such as mushrooms, that also pair well with chicken to tie together the richer flavors in the dish. Alternatively, vegetables like corn, peas, and tomatoes will bring out some sweeter notes to the soup. If you want to go the more herbaceous route, asparagus or green peppers will add both a vibrant color and a very different depth of flavor to the soup that you'll appreciate.

Try noodle alternatives

Now, this next tip requires some flexibility, but hear us out — consider inspiring new flavors in your chicken noodle soup by substituting basic pasta with other noodle options. As mentioned above, substituting a rice noodle to achieve a more Asian-inspired dish is one option for changing up your chicken noodle soup. In line with Asian flavors, you can use ramen noodles as another alternative. Some store-bought ramen noodles even come with flavor packs, which could be used to flavor your soup in a unique way to create a chicken ramen soup. If you want to add a more earthy taste to your soup, use soba noodles to balance out the saltier, richer nature of chicken noodle soup.

For the grand finale, try using a noodle alternative that isn't a noodle at all. Matzo ball soup-inspired chicken noodle soup is the ultimate fusion of comfort foods, with the matzo balls present to soak up every ounce of flavor in your broth. You could even make your own matzo balls for an added homemade element.

Create a Mexican rendition

Try taking a Southwestern approach to your chicken noodle soup with these Mexican tortilla soup-inspired additions. We've established that adding a specific culture's flare to chicken noodle soup is a great way to mix things up, so let's explore another simple way to create a fusion of flavors. Starting with your base, add a can of stewed or diced tomatoes to give your broth a different flavor profile. Season with taco or adobo flavors, and you've got yourself a strong foundation with a heightened flavor experience.

A classic Mexican tortilla soup also typically includes corn, green peppers, and black beans, all of which make great additions to chicken noodle soup as replacements for vegetables typically associated with the popular dish. Last but not least, add toppings to garnish this soup with key final touches. A squeeze of lime, a handful of cilantro, and diced avocado are all essentials to finishing this dish on a fresh note. Put it all together and you'll have a still-recognizable, but highly elevated Mexican chicken noodle soup.

Use ginger for extra health benefits

Put the ginger shot down and try adding ginger to your chicken noodle soup, instead. A little bit goes a long way with this popular spice, and it's the perfect way to give your soup both a wellness and flavor boost. Not only is ginger a staple ingredient in cold-fighting remedies, but it can also aid digestion while serving as an anti-inflammatory. A sprinkle of this spice will give any chicken noodle soup an instant kick with its distinct flavor, brightening up your senses and the color of your soup with its recognizable yellow hue. Add the ginger with the rest of the spices and let them cook in oil, allowing their aromatics to release before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Opt for a freshly shaved ginger root or a shake of ground ginger. No matter which you choose, your chicken noodle soup is guaranteed to become a cold-fighting, flavor-packed double threat.

Make a homemade egg drop soup

For all our Chinese food lovers in the house, satisfy two cravings at once and try an egg drop in your next chicken noodle soup. While many might associate egg drop soup with the staple American Chinese takeout dish, the concept of incorporating whisked egg into a broth is a delicious add-on in many Cantonese soup dishes — and it doesn't end there. Not only is an egg-drop soup super easy to recreate at home, but it can also be included in your chicken noodle soup as a last-minute touch, covering your soup with a blanket of egg and enriching it with its creamy flavor (and extra protein).

Simply whisk your eggs in a bowl as your soup is nearing completion, then slowly pour your mixture into the simmering broth while continuing to whisk. Watch as the ribbons of egg form and solidify, and proceed with finishing your soup as you typically would.

Keep up with the seasons

​​Despite its reputation for being the ultimate cold weather, cozy meal, we'd like to think that chicken noodle soup can be made for every season. A great way to add some variety to your dish is to incorporate vegetables based on what's in season. Eating vegetables while they're in season also ensures that they're at their best in terms of both flavor and nutritional value, so make sure your chicken noodle soup is reaping every benefit.

If you're looking for a spring dish, consider trying peas and spinach for your greens — both easy additions to chicken noodle soup. For summer, things like zucchini and other summer squash are ideal along with a squeeze of lemon for a brightly flavored soup on those sunny days. Fall is prime time for many vegetables, including butternut squash, cauliflower, kale, and plenty of others. Get creative and add some cauliflower rice to your soup in place of (or in addition to), your noodles, or throw a bunch of kale in for the distinctly bitter flavor and nutrient boost. Though winter is everyone's favorite time for soup, it isn't the best for harvesting fresh produce. Hearty greens like broccoli and collards are your best bet for the colder time of year and still make excellent additions to freshen up your chicken noodle soup.