This slow cooker chicken soup recipe is so easy to make that it'll become a weeknight favorite. It's a great recipe when you want to make a wholesome and nourishing dinner but are short on time.
What is it?
This slow cooker chicken soup is a simple and versatile recipe. You make it with chicken thighs, loads of vegetables, and a good dose of fragrant herbs. They simmer together in your slow cooker for a few hours, and then it's ready.
While homemade chicken noodle soup is one of the best things to eat on a chilly evening, this version of chicken soup skips the noodles in favor of a healthier option: potatoes. They're rich in potassium and folate and cook to a beautiful creamy texture in the slow cooker.
Bay leaf and plenty of fresh thyme give the soup a delicate, aromatic note. As the soup simmers, it makes the whole house smell amazing.
Why This Recipe Works
It's super easy to make. You toss everything into your slow cooker and wait. In a few hours, dinner's ready.
Chicken soup is a well-loved food, and this slow cooker version makes it even easier.
Adding the vegetables halfway through cooking means that they still have a little life in them when it's dinner time, and they won't taste overcooked.
This slow cooker chicken soup is deeply nourishing and includes plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber, as well as a good dose of healthy fats from olive oil.
It's easy to adjust the flavor to your liking or based on what's in season. You can always add more vegetables or swap a few herbs depending on what you enjoy most and what's available in your fridge.
Slow cooking is perfect for busy nights and your weekly meal prep. There's no tending a pot on the stove top. After all, the slow cooker does most of the work for you. Just add the ingredients.
It's a an excellent comfort food. It has a mild flavor and is super easy to make, meaning it works well when you need a comforting meal, but don't have the energy or time to tend the stove.
What's in it?
The ingredients for this slow cooker chicken soup are simple. You'll need chicken, vegetables, aromatics, and a liquid that will form the broth. They'll simmer together. And in a few hours, you'll have a hearty soup that takes practically no effort.
- Chicken is the heart of this slow cooker soup. Chicken thighs work well in this recipe because they're both flavorful and affordable, but chicken breasts work well too. Choose chicken without skin or bones because the skin can create an unpleasant texture, and small bones can be a choking hazard.
- Aromatics include fresh thyme and bay leaf. These herbs give the soup its flavor, and they work well with both chicken and vegetables.
- Vegetables give the soup flavor and bulk. Leeks are a delicious addition, but diced onion works just as well. Carrots and celery add both interest and substance to the soup. Other vegetables work well, too, such as bell pepper, green beans, peas, parsnips, and celeriac, depending on the time of year.
- Liquid ingredients can be just about anything that you have on hand. Homemade chicken broth is our favorite choice because of its rich, savory flavor. But bone broth, vegetable stock, and even plain water will work fine.
This Slow Cooker Chicken Soup goes well with a loaf of crusty sourdough bread and a simple salad. Or, you can serve it with a sandwich for a heartier meal.
This is an easy meal to make. Beyond a little chopping, there's not much to do. This makes it the perfect recipe for new cooks or busy weeknights, and it's an excellent choice for your weekly meal prep because of both its ease and versatility. Despite its simplicity, there are a few tips you'll want to keep in mind.
- Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat and sinew. There's nothing wrong with it, but the fat may and connective tissue may not render out during cooking and can lead to a few unpleasant, gristly bites if you're not careful. It works better than using a whole chicken.
- Clean your leeks thoroughly. Farmers grow leeks in sandy soil, and grit often adheres to the leaves. Rinsing your leeks in cold water can help dislodge any dirt or grit.
- Add vegetables halfway through cooking. If you add them at the same time as the chicken, they will taste overcooked.
- Use small new potatoes if you can find them. I like to peel them and cook them whole, as they're less likely to fall apart.
- Adding frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones is a good option if you're short on time. Just dump a couple of cups of frozen onions in place of fresh leeks, as well as a cup or two of celery and carrots. It works well.
- Slow cookers vary in temperature control. For instance, a Crockpot may run hotter or cooler than a Vitaclay slow cooker. So, you may need to adjust the timing of this recipe depending on how hot your slow cooker gets.
Which slow cooker should I use?
We prepared this easy chicken and vegetable soup in the VitaClay slow cooker. It cooks beautifully and has a gorgeous, unglazed clay insert that's third-party tested. It contains no glazes (which can often use heavy metals).
It also has a delay function that allows you to prep the ingredients in advance and time you're meal to be ready exactly when you want. It runs a little hotter than most slow cookers, so you may need to adjust your time or your setting accordingly.
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Variations + Substitutions
Add more vegetables. Parsnips and celeriac (celery root) are delicious additions to chicken soup and good options for the fall and winter months. In summer, try adding green beans or diced bell pepper. They give the soup both good flavor and a pop of color.
Finish the soup with fresh greens, such as finely chopped kale or spinach. You don't even need to cook them for much time. Just let the greens wilt in the residual heat of the soup for a few minutes. It's a great technique and one we use in our Lentil Stew, too.
Switch the herbs. If you don't care for thyme, you can also try dill, savory, basil, parsley, or other fresh herbs in this recipe, too. If you're using tender, leafy herbs like these, try adding them at the very end - about 5 minutes before you serve the soup.
Finely chopped green onions can be a nice addition, too. Add them at the very end of cooking - about 5 minutes befor you plan to serve the soup.
Add diced tomatoes. A jar of diced tomatoes can replace some of the broth. It'll also add a pleasant savory, tart flavor to the soup, too.
For a slow cooker chicken noodles soup, skip the potatoes and add wide egg noodles to the soup for about 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to serve it. Otherwise, they may overcook and fall apart.
If you prefer rice, add it at the same time as you add the chicken. Brown rice works best, as white rice may fall apart or become gummy.
When substituting either noodles or rice, you may need to increase the amount of broth slightly.
Try boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs. While chicken thighs have a little more flavor, you might find that you prefer chicken breast instead. Add a tablespoon or two more olive oil to the slow cooker
If you don't have leeks, add chopped yellow onion instead.
For a speedier version, add leftover chicken, such as shredded rotisserie chicken, to the pot along with all the vegetables and cook for 1 hour instead of 2.
If you like a hint of acidity, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice into the soup just before you serve it.
Store the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It's just as good the next day as the night you serve it. Reheat in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat until hot and steaming.
Yes! Because it is broth-based rather than cream-based, this slow cooker chicken soup freezes very well. Pour it into an airtight container, allowing 1 inch of headspace, and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Yes! If you only have dried thyme, use 1 teaspoon instead of 1 tablespoon. You can substitute an equal amount of dried bay leaves in place of fresh bay leaves.