Panera chicken noodle soup in under an hour! I can help you bring some life back into a rotisserie chicken, or brighten up some skinless, boneless thighs with nothing more than some standard vegetables, a few herbs and seasonings, broth or homemade stock and a package of cheap egg noodles.
Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup
Panera Chicken noodle soup is one of my favorite wintertime recipes. Nothing quite hits the spot on a cold winter evening like it. I got pretty tired of wasting my money on Panera so I decided to come up with my own copycat recipe. I know it's tempting to heat up some of that sodium-filled chicken noodle soup, but this Panera copycat will fill your stomach, warm you up, and bring a smile to your face. So make it!
Most importantly, you can make this Panera copycat with basic pantry ingredients you have laying around!
First things first, let's go over what I use to make Panera chicken noodle soup. I'll even list a few alternatives you're almost guaranteed to have laying around if you don't have one of my preferred ingredients.
That's one of the beautiful things about chicken noodle soup; you can dress it up however you want, and you'll still get an aromatic flavor bomb that warms your chest and raises your spirits.
- Skinless/boneless chicken thighs: These are the star of the show. I love the way the thighs' fat content floods the chicken broth with mouthwatering flavors, and they're tender, juicy bits on their own, too.
If you don't have any skinless/boneless thighs in your fridge, you can substitute regular thighs that you de-bone and skin yourself. You can even shred up a refrigerated rotisserie chicken you never got around to eating.
- Fresh parsley, dill, and dried thyme: These are the herbs that are going to make your kitchen and your Panera chicken noodle soup smell just like grandma's did back in the day. They also make the natural flavors of the chicken pop in your mouth and leave a savory goodness you can't quite put your tongue on.
I love using these fresh, straight-from-nature, ingredients, but I'll admit I don't always keep them stocked on my herb rack. If you haven't picked any up recently, the dried or freeze-dried versions will do just fine in a pinch.
- Salt/pepper/cayenne: You'll need these to-taste, and they're what will add a little kick to your savory chicken noodle soup.
- Rice vinegar: I like to use rice vinegar to add a slight bite to my broth, but you can substitute it for apple cider vinegar or white vinegar in a pinch.
- Chicken stock/broth: This is the base of the soup, and there are two ways you can get your hands on it. For a quick soup to warm up with, just use store-bought broth. It's flavorful and gets the job done without you having to stick around the stove all day.
For a more traditional touch, make your own. You can use a leftover chicken carcass or chicken bones, and simply simmer them in a pot with carrots, celery, and seasonings for about 4-6 hours before starting this recipe.
- Carrots/onion/garlic: Thinly slicing this traditional soup trinity and sautéing it before adding your broth and chicken will help enrich your soup base with a punch of garlic and a subtle sweetness.
- Egg noodles: These can be any egg noodles you have laying around. Just pick your favorite brand and keep them on standby until the end.
How to make chicken noodle soup
Step 1: To start this Panera chicken noodle soup off, get a pan nice and hot to sear your chicken thighs. I prefer to make everything in a pot which means less dirty dishes, but if you want a really nice sear, you can use a cast iron.
Nothing puts a better crust on meat than old-fashioned cast iron. You'll just need to transfer the chicken to a pot to make the soup.
However, if you're using rotisserie chicken, you can skip this step entirely. Shred the chicken but don't add it right away. Since the chicken is already cooked, you'll want to wait until the soup is done then add it to the pot.
Always make sure to use a little butter or oil to coat your pan, and once it's hot, lay the chicken away from you as you put it into the pan. You don't want to pop yourself with oil. If you're making this to escape the cold, I'm sure you won't like the way the oil heats you up.
Aim for an even, golden-brown crust on both sides of your thighs with this step. It will only take a short period of time to sear them off, though. The key is to make sure your pan is hot before you add the chicken.
Once the chicken is seared, set it to the side.
Step 2: Next, simply slice your garlic, carrots (if you like), and onion into thin, uniform pieces. You can add in celery if you'd like, too. It'll add a some nice flavor to your soup. I love to add it to my soups. Once everything is sliced evenly, sauté the mixture.
Step 3: Add the chicken broth or stock to the pot.
Step 4: Let the soup come to a boil. Now, add the chicken to the pot of broth and vegetables. Be careful not to cause any splashes during this step. Plopping too much in at once can make a painful mess. Just take it slow and add little by little.
Step 5: All that's left to do is let the soup simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Step 6: Next, remove chicken and carefully (because it will be very hot or let it cool first) shred into bit size pieces. Add the noodles and shredded chicken. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until the noodles are tender. Season with salt and pepper or more seasonings if you like.
What to serve with chicken noodle soup
You're finally ready to enjoy a hot bowl of Panera chicken noodle soup. This Panera copycat recipe makes plentiful helpings, and it's a healthy, and far more flavorful, alternative to the salty canned chicken soup staples of our childhoods or Panera bread.
Panera Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs Pepper and lightly seasoned with salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup onions diced
- ½ cup celery sliced
- 2 ½ tsp minced garlic
- 1 cup carrots sliced
- 8 cups chicken broth I used Better than Bouillon chicken base (low sodium)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp dried dill
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp vinegar or use lemon juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups wide egg noodles
- 1. Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chicken and sear both sides until golden about 2-3 minutes. Do not move the chicken around at all. Once the chicken is done. Take it out and set it to the side.
- Next add the onions, celery and carrots. Add more butter, or olive oil if needed. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
- Pour in chicken stock and bay leaf; Add the salt, pepper and the remaining seasonings and parsley. Bring to boil; add the chicken. Simmer covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken and carefully (because it will be very hot or let it cool first) shred into bit size pieces.
- Add chicken back into the pot. Next add the noodles. Stir. Cook until tender about 6-8 minutes and serve.
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