Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemon & Thyme

Soup season has almost arrived. It is still hovering around 70 degrees here in Shanghai, but the mornings and evenings are chilly. I suspect that after Halloween I won’t be able to go jacketless again for a long while. As much as I hate the cold, wet Shanghai winter, I do love making pots on pots of soup. It tastes good, it’s good for you, and it lasts for several meals. Perfect for your average lazy bum like me.

Before I made this, I had actually never made chicken noodle soup before. I like the concept, but to be honest the canned stuff just falls flat. It is way too salty, the noodles are mushy, and it just can’t compare to homemade soup. I was on the prowl for a good recipe and I found several that added a serious amount of lemon juice at the end of the cooking time. At first I thought it was weird, but after trying it I have discovered the holy trinity of chicken soup making: lemon juice, pepper, and fresh thyme.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemon & Fresh Thyme

Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemon & Fresh Thyme

To make a flavorful soup you have to have your aromatics. This soup keeps it simple with carrots, celery, and onion. Next time I will add something a little more sophisticated, like parsnips. I also used vegetable stock cubes for the broth. Most recipes call for chicken stock/broth, but that stuff is too expensive to buy here in Shanghai, so these vegetable stock cubes work just fine.

Another key to good chicken noodle soup is the chicken. Roasting is the key. Make sure you use a handful of spices and good olive oil, then roast and shred. While the chicken is roasting you can make the broth, so it’s actually a quick meal to throw together, takes about 35 minutes total!


Fresh Thyme Galore

In addition to all the dried spices used on the chicken and in the broth, the addition of the fresh thyme really makes this soup amazing. I have become addicted to this herb lately. I’ve probably gone through three bags in the past few months. It pairs so well with chicken in general, but also compliments the aromatic vegetables and is a great combination with the lemon juice in this particular soup.


Check out these noodles


  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (or just dried oregano)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5-7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes (or chicken bouillon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 package (approx 1 1/2 cup) noodles of your choice
  • more salt & pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • fresh thyme

oodles of noodles

I know the ingredients list seems long, but it’s not that bad, trust me.

How to:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F (190C), In a baking dish, drizzle chicken with about 2 T olive oil and generously coat with salt & pepper. Add in the cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika & Italian seasoning and bake for about 30 minutes flipping once in the middle. Once done, let rest for a few minutes and then rip into shreds with two forks.
  2. While the chicken is baking, roughly chop the carrots & celery (if you like a chunky soup) and finely dice the onion, set aside. Mince the garlic, set aside.
  3. In a large pot heat the remaining olive oil and cook the aromatics with a dash of salt on medium heat for about 8-9 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the 6 cups water, bay leave, and vegetable stock cubes and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium again, add the dry noodles. Cook for about ten minutes until noodles are al dente (ad more water if it boils off too quickly or you like a soup with more broth)
  6. Add the shredded chicken and a generous amount of black pepper (and salt if needed).
  7. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice (can use the whole lemon if desired, but 1/2 gives just the slightest taste of lemon)
  8. Top with fresh thyme and Pig out

Nom nom nom

Soup is a blank canvas, if you have something you love in your chicken noodle soup, let me know I am always looking for new secret ingredients. Also, this week is my absolute favorite holiday of all time: Halloween! Can’t wait to see crazy costume pictures. If I snap a good picture of mine I’ll include it in my next post. Happy Halloween!





7 thoughts on “Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemon & Thyme

  1. Emilie says:

    This looks SO GOOD. I see this soup in my very near future. I would have never thought to add lemon or thyme, but now that you mention it, it makes sense and sounds like such a great addition!

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