Warm up from the inside with this recipe for homemade gluten free chicken noodle soup from scratch. Make the rich chicken stock ahead on the stovetop or instant pot.
The secret to the best soup
There’s a secret to making really good gluten free chicken noodle soup, and it’s simple. Cook each element of the soup with only those ingredients that are essential to its success, and only when you need them.
I used to make homemade chicken soup by cooking everything together in the same pot, removing impurities and whole pieces by straining, and then serving all the cooked vegetables and chicken meat.
I added as much liquid as I wanted to serve. Then, I would boil the noodles in the stock, add back in the vegetables and meat, and serve.
Now, I make the stock as much as 1 week ahead of time by only boiling skin-on, bone-in dark meat parts with large chunks of vegetables. I assume that everything in that pot is going to end up without a ton of flavor, so I don’t add anything that I plan to count on for serving, other than some surviving dark meat.
The white meat chicken is cooked separately. The gluten free noodles are boiled separately and only added to the soup on serving. Everything retains its flavor and texture.
How to make rich homemade chicken stock
This recipe makes rich homemade chicken stock by boiling dark meat chicken with skin and bones with vegetables, bay leaves, salt and pepper. All the ingredients sacrifice their flavor, including the chicken and vegetables, to the stock.
The stock is very rich and flavorful, and can be used for anything you like, including making some of the best risotto of your life. Here, we’re using it to make homemade gluten free chicken noodle soup.
Using fewer vegetables and only dark meat chicken parts makes the stock much more flavorful. You can stretch the stock a bit by adding some hot water and a bit more salt before serving. The stock can also be frozen in the wells of an ice cube tray and defrosted as needed.
The white meat breasts are cooked separately because they don’t add much richness to the stock, and end up flavorless and almost dry if they’re boiled along with the other ingredients. By cooking them separately, they add lots of flavor to the soup when it’s served.
Is there a shortcut way to make this soup?
Yes! I don’t often make chicken soup completely from scratch like this.
Cooking it on the stovetop is very easy, but kind of messy. Using the Instant Pot with the instructions listed below is really very simple, but it still requires that I have a whole chicken in my refrigerator.
If you’d like to make chicken noodle soup without first making stock from dark meat chicken and vegetables, I don’t recommend that you use store-bought chicken stock. I use Pacific brand chicken stock often for cooking, but not when it’s such a prominent ingredient.
For a brothy soup, I prefer to use our homemade vegetable bouillon powder that we use in our gluten free ramen recipe instead. Just boil as much water as you’d like soup, and add the bouillon powder to taste. You can use some store bought chicken stock, too, but the bouillon powder is going to give you the richest flavor.
Which gluten free noodles work best for this soup?
I like rice noodles best for this recipe. I’ve used Thai Kitchen brand and Lotus Foods brand rice noodles, and I love them both.
You can use any sort of gluten free pasta noodle you like, but when I think “noodles,” I think something flat. I bet Barilla brand gluten free fettuccine would be great.
You can also take longer noodles and break them into smaller pieces before boiling. My family loved the long rice noodles.
In the photos and video, you’ll see actual short pieces of gluten free egg noodles. They looked great.
The brand of gluten free egg noodles is Manischewitz. They’re super expensive, and they taste awful. They’re either tough, or mealy, and I paid nearly $7 for 12 ounces. Save yourself.
We now have a recipe for gluten free egg noodles that really make this recipe special. If you make every element of this recipe in stages, and make extra stock and extra noodles, you can eat well for days!
Homemade Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup
For the chicken stock
4 to 6 pound whole chicken or chicken parts (including 2 breasts) (See Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 bay leaves (dried or fresh)
5 to 7 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 large onion (any kind), peeled and quartered
1 pound (about 2 large) whole carrots, washed, unpeeled and roughly chopped
1/2 pound (about 4 medium stalks) celery, washed and roughly chopped (include any leaves)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 to 4 quarts water
2 tablespoons (28 g) extra-virgin olive oil
For the soup
12 to 16 ounces gluten free flat egg or rice noodles (See Recipe Notes)
Drizzle of neutral oil (like grapeseed, canola, or vegetable)
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter
1 pound (about 2 large) whole carrots, washed, peeled and sliced thinly by cross-section
1/2 pound (about 4 medium stalks) celery, washed and sliced thinly by cross-section
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
For the chicken breasts
We will set the chicken breasts aside and cook them separately. They don’t add much flavor to the stock if they’re cooked along with the other parts, but they’ll give up all they’ve got.
You can cook the breasts up to 3 days ahead of when you want to serve the soup, and just keep them in the refrigerator. The strained stock can be stored in the refrigerator in sealed containers for about 1 week, or frozen for longer storage.
For the noodles
I like Thai Kitchen brand or Lotus Foods brand rice noodles in this recipe. You can, of course, use your favorite gluten free pasta.
Since we cook the pasta separately and only combine it with the soup on serving, don’t shave off any cooking time from the pasta. Cook it how you’d like to eat it.
If you’re using a whole chicken, you’ll need to break it down into parts. All you really need is poultry shears, which can cut through bone. Place the chicken on a clean, dry surface, breast-side up. Press down on the backbone very firmly to break the back (sorry, chicken), and then separate out the wings, legs, thighs, and as many large bones as you can. Discard as many tiny bones, gristle, and as much fat as possible, leaving as much of the skin intact as possible. I even clean off the neck and include it, but discard the giblets because I’m only human. Set the breasts aside.
If you’re using chicken parts, be sure you have at least 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, and two breasts. Set the breasts aside.
In the bowl of an Instant Pot or a very large stockpot (I used a 7-quart pot), place the dark pieces of chicken plus any assorted non-white-meat pieces (everything but the breasts), the bay leaves (dried or fresh both fine), garlic cloves, onion quarters, chunks of carrots and celery, salt and pepper. Add enough tap water to nearly fill the pot and cover all the ingredients in water.
If you’re making your stock on the stovetop: Place the pot on the stovetop. Place the cover on, but askew so that some steam can escape. Bring the contents to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to cook until the vegetables are very fork tender and the chicken has begun to separate from the bones (around 2 hours). Remove the pot from the stove and uncover it. Allow it to cool until the contents are no longer too hot to handle. Remove all the pieces (vegetables, bones, meat) to a separate bowl, and strain the stock into glass bowls or containers. Let the containers cool, uncovered, and then refrigerate until ready to use.
If you’re using an Instant Pot for the stock: Plug in your Instant Pot, and return the bowl to the appliance. Secure the lid, making sure the vent is set to “seal.” Press the “Manual” dial and increase the cooking time to 40 minutes. The pot will take some time to come to temperature and seal. Once it has finished cooking, allow the pressure to reduce naturally for as long as you can, then manually release the remaining pressure. The vent will sputter, so cover it with a towel and step back. Uncover the pot, and allow it to cool until the contents are no longer too hot to handle. Remove all the pieces (vegetables, bones, meat) to a separate bowl, and strain the stock into glass bowls or containers. Let the containers cool, uncovered, and then refrigerate until ready to use.
Separate as much of the dark meat as you can from the other cooked ingredients, and set it aside to serve with the soup. The vegetables will be really soft and rather flavorless, but I still eat them on their own. Discard the bones, skin, any other chicken parts, and the bay leaves. Strain out any impurities from the stock with a metal strainer.
Cook the chicken breasts: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the breasts in a lined or greased baking dish or quarter sheet pan. Drizzle them meat with the olive oil, and cover it completely with parchment paper placed directly on top of it. Place the dish in the hot oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until an instant-reader thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of each breast reads at least 165°F. Allow to rest outside the oven, still covered, for 10 minutes. Remove and discard any skin, bones, or cartilage and chop into small chunks. This is to serve with the soup, and can be made ahead and refrigerated, once cool, for up to 2 days.
To make the soup: Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Rinse them thoroughly with warm water, and drain them completely. Toss them with a bit of oil and set them aside.
In a medium to large, heavy bottom pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced carrots and celery and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the vegetables are fork tender (about 6 minutes). Remove as much of the stock from the refrigerator as you plan to serve. I usually serve 8 cups of stock (2/3 of the total) to feed 4 people. Scrape off and discard any fat that has solidified at the top of the liquid, and pour the liquid into the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until hot (about 5 minutes).
To serve, place noodles and cooked chicken in each serving bowl, and then ladle in the hot soup with cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve hot.