I updated my favorite Chicken Noodle Soup recipe with healthy, nutty quinoa. This Chicken Quinoa Soup makes an easy lunch option or a quick dinner that won’t break your resolutions. Add fresh lemon juice and cilantro for extra flavor and a preview of the spring days ahead. Ready in 30 minutes or less.
Come the New Year, I find myself getting back to the basics. I organize the house, take stock in what I have, and…make stock with what I have in the refrigerator.
You don’t have to cook your own chicken stock to make this soup. But if you’re like me, you might already have a container or two way in the back of your freezer.
Dig it out and get ready to make a simple, made-from-scratch, restorative chicken and vegetable soup that’s perfect for fresh starts, chilly days, and nagging winter colds. Think chicken noodle soup, but healthier.
I add quinoa for a little extra protein and a lot of extra vitamins—something we all need to stay healthy. The fresh lemon juice stirred in at the very end brightens all the flavors and makes this soup really special.
I think you’ll love it.
Making a giant batch of Chicken Quinoa Soup for a lazy weekend indoors? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How do you make Chicken Quinoa Soup in a slow cooker?
The beauty of this homemade soup is that it comes together in about half an hour, so I normally make it on the stove. If you’d like to try the slow cooker, start with raw chicken and take it out to shred it or chop it before serving.
Cook on low for 6-7 hours. I wouldn’t let already-cooked chicken stay in the crockpot all day, or it will get really dried out.
What you can do, however, is make your own chicken stock from scratch in a slow cooker. Making your own bone broth using chicken is so good for you; chicken soup is absolutely, scientifically proven to reduce the duration of the common cold. Grandma was right on, this whole time.
How do you make chicken bone broth in a slow cooker?
Making chicken stock in a crockpot is about the easiest thing in the world.
- Place chicken in 6-quart slow cooker.
- Add onion, celery, carrots, salt, pepper, thyme and cover with water, about 4 – 5 quarts.
- Cover and cook 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low settings.
- Remove chicken from stock and use for other recipes.
How do you make chicken bone broth in an Instant Pot?
Technically there’s no real difference between the term stock and bone broth, but this recipe using the pressure cooker will make a rich, gelatinous stock that is phenomenal in soups.
- Place chicken carcass and bones in Instant Pot and top with a few celery stalks, a couple whole carrots, and a sprinkle of salt.
- Add water until the pot is two-thirds full.
- Select the ‘Soup’ button and set the pressure to “low” while increasing the cook time time to 120 minutes.
- After two hours, allow the Instant Pot to depressurize naturally.
- Strain off chicken and vegetables, then store in containers and freeze.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa, (pronounced keen-wah) is often grouped in with whole grains, since it’s cooked like one. Quinoa is actually the seed of a plant that is related to leafy greens, similar to spinach and chard. Grown in the Andes region, quinoa was cultivated for thousands of years by pre-Columbian civilizations.
What are some Quinoa benefits?
One of today’s most beloved superfoods, quinoa is high in fiber, B vitamins, folate, magnesium, and potassium. It’s also packed with amino acids; eaten by itself, it’s a complete protein.
In other words, it’s worlds better for you than regular old noodles, but it’s just as comforting to eat.
What does Quinoa taste like?
I love it because quinoa is nutty, fluffy and has just the slightest crunch, which works wonderfully in chicken soup. Plus it doesn’t get waterlogged, like rice or noodles.
For those of you who have tried quinoa and disliked it, you may want to give it another chance. Quinoa tastes very bitter if not rinsed properly before cooking, due to the presence of saponins.
Saponins are naturally-occurring bitter compounds on the outside of the quinoa seed. They get their name because they lather up a bit in water, like soap suds.
Giving the quinoa a good, brisk rinse under running water removes the saponins and the bitter taste. It really works!
I break down all the different ways to cook quinoa in my how-to, if you’re interested in a deep-dive into quinoa.
Chicken Quinoa Soup Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 8 cups chicken broth (2 quarts)
- 3 cups cooked chicken 10-12 ounces, chopped or shredded
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Minced fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish
- Using a large, fine-mesh sieve, rinse quinoa thoroughly under cold water first; this gets rid of the bitter taste.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in broth, chicken, quinoa, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to simmer and cook until vegetables and quinoa are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.