6 Ways to Make Hearty Chicken Soup With Almost No Effort

Chicken soup isn’t just for colds (though it’s definitely good when you’re feeling under the weather). Hearty, healthy chicken soups are also the perfect meal for cold fall nights. Plus, they’re often budget friendly, leave you with abundant leftovers for next week’s lunch, and are relatively simple to prepare. Here are six recipes for easy chicken soup that will make your hunger disappear.

1. Easy 20-Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup, avocado, chicken

Chicken tortilla soup | iStock.com

This filling chicken-and-black-bean tortilla soup can go from stove to table in just 20 minutes. You can use cooked chicken breasts in this dish, but leftover roasted chicken would work just as well if you’re trying to save time. Recipe from Chef Savvy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce (medium)
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15½ ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded chicken breasts, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (about half of a lime)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Avocado for garnish (optional)
  • Tortilla strips for garnish (optional)
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions: Add oil to a large saucepan, heat, then add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth, enchilada sauce, crushed tomatoes, black beans, corn, cumin, paprika, and pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, and heat until warmed through. Remove from heat, then stir in the lime juice and 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro. Ladle into bowls and garnish with tortilla strips, avocado, and cilantro.

2. Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew

butternut squash

Butternut squash | iStock.com

Squash and chicken come together perfectly, along with healthy quinoa, for a filling and nutritious stew. This one-pot meal takes just a few minutes to prepare, especially if you cheat and buy pre-cut and peeled butternut squash. Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Café.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts
  • 1 can (14-ounces) petite or regular diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups chopped butternut squash (about 1 medium squash, peeled and seeded)
  • ⅔ cup uncooked quinoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped fresh spinach

Directions: Heat the olive oil in a large (at least 4 quarts) stock pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, oregano, and garlic. Sauté until the onion is softened, stirring frequently, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, and continue boiling until the meat is cooked, about 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the chicken, and set aside.

Add the tomatoes, butternut squash, and quinoa to the pot. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes until the squash is tender and the quinoa is fully cooked. If you like, remove some of the squash, mash it, and then return to the pot.

Shred the cooked chicken using two forks, and then return it to the pot. Add the salt and pepper, then stir in the spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Ladle into bowls, and serve.

3. Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Creamy chicken wild rice soup | iStock.com

Stick-to-your-ribs chicken and rice soup is the perfect meal for chilly afternoons and evenings. Plus, wild rice is a healthy whole grain that’s rich in folate, vitamin E, and zinc, according to WebMD (plus, it has fewer carbs than brown rice). Substituting a store-bought mirepoix mix (chopped onions, carrots, and celery) will save you time in the kitchen. Start this simple slow-cooker recipe from Little Spice Jar in the morning, and you’ll have delicious, creamy soup by lunch or dinner time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice blend
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • ¾ cup celery, chopped
  • ¾ cup carrots, chopped
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt-free poultry seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or substitute more butter)
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (or use half and half for a richer, creamier soup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Rinse the wild rice. Add the rice, chicken breast, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, chicken broth, water, and poultry seasoning to your slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, remove the chicken breasts from the slow cooker. Let cool slightly, then shred with two forks. Return the chicken to the soup.

Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan. Add the flour, and cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour the milk into the pan, whisking as you do so. Continue to whisk until the mixture is lump-free, then let the mixture cook until it thickens and becomes creamy.

Add cream mixture to the slow cooker, and stir to combine. If soup is too thick, add a little water or milk to thin. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

4. Fast and Easy Chicken Soup

chicken soup

Chicken soup | iStock.com

Sometimes, a cold comes out of nowhere. When achiness and sniffles hit, whip up a batch of this quick, noodle-free chicken soup with hearty mushrooms for instant relief. Plus, immune-boosting button mushrooms could help you fight off nasty germs, according to WebMD. Recipe from Home Sweet Jones.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 pound cooked chicken meat, shredded
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • Salt to taste

Directions: In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Dice the carrots, celery, and onion (in that order), and add them to the pot as you work. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic to the pot, and sauté for 1 minute more.

Pour in the chicken stock, and add the bay leaves and thyme. As you wait for the soup to come to a simmer, shred the cooked chicken with two forks. Once the soup simmers, add the meat along with the tarragon and parley and cook until the chicken is warmed through. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems, season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

5. Easy Chicken Tortellini Soup

chicken tortellini soup

Chicken tortellini soup | iStock.com

Using pre-made chicken tortellini makes preparing this recipe incredibly easy, not to mention filling (the addition of healthy, fiber-rich white beans helps too). The whole dish should take about five minutes to prepare and just 15 minutes to cook. Recipe from Taste and Tell.

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (19-ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14½-ounce ) can diced Italian tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions: Add 4 cups of chicken broth to a large stock pot or Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini, and cook until pasta is tender. Add the white beans, tomatoes (do not drain), basil, and chicken. Simmer until all the ingredients are heated through (about 5 minutes). Add the vinegar, stir, and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more broth if you’d like a thinner soup.

Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired, then serve.

6. Chicken Lentil Soup

chicken lentil soup

Chicken lentil soup | iStock.com

Filling, nutritious lentils add some extra heft to this budget-friendly chicken soup, and using fast-cooking French lentils cuts down on the time the pot needs to simmer. This recipe from The Kitchn makes between 8 and 10 servings. Try freezing any leftovers so that you can enjoy a delicious and hearty lunch throughout the cold weather months.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 12 cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 cups French lentils
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, for serving

Directions: In a large Dutch oven, melt the bacon fat or butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Add the tomato paste to the pot, and stir to coat all the veggies. Continue cooking until the tomato paste darkens and begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and lentils to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer, then add the chicken thighs. Cover and cook for 1 hour, checking occasionally to make sure the soup doesn’t boil over.

Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool, then shred the meat using two forks. Using an immersion blender, blend the cooked lentil mixture until it reaches the desired consistency, or transfer to a blender in batches and puree, then return to the pot. (You may only want to blend half the soup if you prefer a chunky consistency.) Add the shredded chicken to the pot, season with salt and pepper to taste if you like, then serve garnished with sprinkled Parmesan or Romano cheese.