Authentic Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup: A Simple Guide

by Ella

Chinese cuisine is renowned for its rich flavors, diverse ingredients, and centuries-old traditions. One dish that encapsulates the essence of Chinese culinary expertise is the Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup. This hearty and comforting soup has been a staple in Chinese households for generations, and it’s a true reflection of the balance between flavors, textures, and aromas that the cuisine is known for.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the art of making authentic Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup, step by step. From selecting the right ingredients to mastering the intricate techniques, we will take you through the entire process, so you can prepare a bowl of this delicious and nourishing soup in your own kitchen.


Essential Ingredients

A. Chicken

The key to an authentic Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup is high-quality chicken. You can choose from whole chickens, chicken parts, or even just chicken bones. The most popular choices are bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks, or a combination of both. These cuts are flavorful and tender, making them ideal for this soup.


B. Noodles

Selecting the right type of noodles is crucial for an authentic Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup. Egg noodles, also known as wonton noodles or Hong Kong-style noodles, are the preferred choice. These noodles are thin, delicate, and quick-cooking, making them a perfect match for this dish. You can find them in most Asian grocery stores, or you can make your own from scratch.


C. Broth

The base of the soup is the broth, and it’s what infuses the entire dish with flavor. Traditional Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup is made with a clear and light chicken broth. You can prepare this by simmering chicken bones or parts with water, aromatics, and spices. Homemade broth is preferred, but you can also use store-bought chicken broth as a time-saving alternative.


D. Aromatics and Spices

Aromatics and spices play a crucial role in creating the distinct flavor profile of the soup. The key ingredients include ginger, garlic, green onions, and star anise. Fresh ginger and garlic add a delightful zing to the broth, while green onions provide a subtle sweetness. Star anise imparts a unique, fragrant note to the soup. These ingredients can be adjusted to your taste.

Preparing the Ingredients

A. Chicken Preparation

Clean the chicken: If using whole chicken parts, rinse them thoroughly under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. This removes any impurities and excess moisture, ensuring a cleaner broth.

Trim excess fat: Trim any excess fat from the chicken parts. While some fat is essential for flavor, removing any excessive fat ensures a cleaner and less greasy soup.

Season the chicken: Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper to enhance their flavor. You can also marinate them in soy sauce or Shaoxing wine for added depth.

B. Noodle Preparation

Cook the noodles: Follow the package instructions to cook the egg noodles until they are al dente. Be careful not to overcook them, as they will continue to soften in the hot broth. Once cooked, drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process and remove excess starch.

Toss in sesame oil: Drizzle a bit of sesame oil over the cooked noodles and toss them gently to prevent sticking. This adds a subtle nutty flavor and prevents clumping.

C. Broth Base

Simmer the chicken: Place the seasoned chicken pieces in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off any impurities and foam that rise to the surface. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Aromatics and spices: While the chicken simmers, prepare the aromatics and spices. Slice the ginger and garlic thinly, cut the green onions into 2-inch pieces, and toast the star anise in a dry pan until fragrant.

Add aromatics and spices: Once the chicken is cooked, add the sliced ginger, garlic, green onions, and toasted star anise to the pot. Simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to infuse the broth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Strain the broth: Use a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain the broth, discarding the solids. This step results in a clear and flavorful broth for your soup.

D. Aromatics and Spice Preparation

Fresh ginger: Peel and slice the ginger into thin rounds or julienne strips. The quantity can be adjusted to your preference; more ginger will impart a stronger ginger flavor.

Garlic: Peel and finely mince the garlic. You can use as much or as little garlic as you like, depending on your taste.

Green onions: Slice the green onions into thin rounds, separating the white and green parts. The white parts can be added to the simmering broth, while the green parts are reserved for garnishing.

Chinese chicken noodle soup

Chinese chicken noodle soup is a comforting and flavorful dish that combines tender chicken, savory broth, and delicious noodles. Here's a basic recipe to get you started:
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Yield: 3
Cost: $5


For the Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 slices of ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

For the Soup:

  • 8 cups chicken broth (homemade or store-bought)
  • 2-3 slices of ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 star anise (optional)
  • 2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms (optional, for extra flavor)
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • 8-10 ounces of Chinese egg noodles or any noodles of your choice

For Garnish:

  • Sliced green onions
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Sliced chili peppers (optional)
  • Soy sauce and hot chili oil for serving (optional)


Poach the Chicken:

  • In a pot, add the chicken breasts, ginger slices, garlic cloves, salt, and white pepper.
  • Cover the chicken with cold water, and bring it to a simmer.
  • Once it simmers, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let the chicken poach for about 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot, let it cool, and then shred it into bite-sized pieces.

Prepare the Broth:

  • In a separate pot, add the chicken broth, ginger slices, garlic cloves, star anise, and dried shiitake mushrooms.
  • Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for about 20-30 minutes to infuse the flavors.
  • Remove the ginger, garlic, star anise, and mushrooms from the broth.

Season the Soup:

  • Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt, and white pepper to the broth. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Cook the Noodles:

  • In a separate pot, cook the Chinese egg noodles or any noodles of your choice according to the package instructions.
  • Drain the noodles and set them aside.

Assemble the Soup:

  • Place a portion of cooked noodles in a bowl.
  • Add the shredded chicken on top of the noodles.
  • Ladle the hot broth over the noodles and chicken.

Cooking Techniques

A. Boiling the Chicken

Bring water to a boil: Start by placing the chicken parts in a large pot and covering them with cold water. This cold start helps to render the chicken fat and create a clearer broth.

Skim impurities: As the water comes to a boil, you’ll notice some foam and impurities rising to the surface. Skim off these impurities with a fine-mesh skimmer or a spoon. This step is crucial for achieving a clear broth.

Reduce to a simmer: Once the water reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. You should see small bubbles breaking the surface but not a vigorous boil. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.

B. Simmering the Broth

Aromatics and spices: As the chicken simmers, prepare your aromatics and spices. Thinly slice the ginger and garlic, cut the green onions into 2-inch pieces, and toast the star anise in a dry pan until fragrant.

Add aromatics and spices: After the chicken is cooked, add the sliced ginger, garlic, green onions, and toasted star anise to the pot. Continue to simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and infuse the broth. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.

C. Assembling the Soup

Serve with noodles: To assemble your Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup, place a portion of cooked and drained egg noodles in a serving bowl.

Add chicken and broth: Top the noodles with a few pieces of cooked chicken, and then ladle the hot chicken broth over the noodles and chicken.

Aromatics and garnishes: Scatter the fresh ginger, garlic, and green onions over the soup. You can also add a few slices of star anise for an extra burst of flavor.

Customize with garnishes: Complete your soup with a selection of garnishes like fresh cilantro leaves, sliced green onions, bean sprouts, julienned carrots, sliced mushrooms, and hard-boiled eggs. Drizzle with chili oil or soy sauce if you prefer a bit of heat or extra umami.

Serving and Garnishing

A. Serving Suggestions

Individual servings: Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup is best served individually, allowing each person to customize their bowl with their preferred garnishes.

Family-style: Alternatively, you can serve the soup family-style by placing the noodles, chicken, and broth in separate serving dishes, along with an array of garnishes. Your guests can then create their own bowls to suit their taste.

B. Garnish Variations

Garnishes are a significant component of the Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup, allowing you to tailor the dish to your preferences. Here are some popular garnish variations:

Fresh cilantro leaves: Add a burst of fresh, herbaceous flavor to your soup by scattering a few cilantro leaves on top.

Sliced green onions: The mild, sweet flavor of green onions complements the soup’s richness. Slice them thinly and sprinkle them over the bowl.

Bean sprouts: Bean sprouts provide a delightful crunch and freshness. They can be added for texture and a light, earthy flavor.

Julienned carrots: Thin strips of carrots not only add a pop of color but also a slight sweetness that contrasts with the savory broth.

Sliced mushrooms: While not traditional, sliced mushrooms can be a delightful addition for an earthy note and a chewy texture.

Hard-boiled eggs: For a heartier meal, slice hard-boiled eggs in half and nestle them in the soup. The creamy yolk complements the savory broth beautifully.

Chili oil or soy sauce: If you crave an extra layer of heat and flavor, drizzle your soup with chili oil or a splash of soy sauce.

Feel free to experiment with these garnishes to create a soup that suits your taste. The combination of flavors and textures is key to achieving a well-balanced and satisfying dish.

C. Side Dishes

Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup can be served as a standalone meal, but it also pairs well with some classic Chinese side dishes. Consider adding the following accompaniments to complete your dining experience:

Spring rolls: Crispy and filled with various ingredients, spring rolls make a perfect starter or side dish.

See Also: Fresh Spring Rolls with Best Sauce (Plus Pictures!)

Potstickers or dumplings: These savory delights, whether steamed, boiled, or pan-fried, are a popular choice as a side dish in Chinese cuisine.

Bok choy or Chinese broccoli: Sautéed or blanched leafy greens can be served with oyster sauce or a light soy-based dressing.

Fried rice: A classic Chinese side dish, fried rice is a flavorful complement to your soup.

See Also: Shrimp Fried Rice: An Easy 20-Minute Recipe

Hot and sour soup: This soup, with its tangy and spicy flavors, pairs well with Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup.

See Also: Hot & Sour Soup – Easy & Authentic!

Dim sum: A selection of dim sum items, such as siu mai and har gow, can provide a diverse and satisfying meal.

Variations and Regional Differences

Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup has numerous regional variations, each with its own unique flavors and ingredients. Here are some popular regional variations to explore:

Sichuan-style: Known for its bold and spicy flavors, Sichuan-style chicken noodle soup often features chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and a more intense broth.

Cantonese-style: This is the classic Hong Kong-style chicken noodle soup with clear and delicate flavors. It typically includes wonton noodles, a clear chicken broth, and simple garnishes.

Shandong-style: A robust and hearty variation that often includes julienned vegetables and a generous amount of garlic.

Hainanese-style: Made famous by Hainanese chicken rice, this soup features poached chicken, fragrant rice, and a light broth.

Shanghai-style: A richer and more savory soup often made with dark meat chicken and served with bok choy.

Taiwanese-style: Known for its strong, savory flavors and the addition of braised eggs.

Fujian-style: Typically featuring a seafood-based broth, this variation includes prawns, squid, and other seafood.

These regional variations offer a glimpse into the diverse world of Chinese cuisine. Each style brings its own unique twist to the classic chicken noodle soup, providing a rich and satisfying culinary experience.


In conclusion, mastering the art of crafting authentic Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup requires attention to detail, quality ingredients, and a deep understanding of the diverse regional variations. With the step-by-step guidance provided in this article, you can create a bowl of this comforting and flavorful soup in your own kitchen, tailored to your taste preferences.

Remember that Chinese cuisine is not only about following a recipe but also about exploring and adapting it to your liking. Whether you opt for the classic Hong Kong-style or decide to venture into the bold and spicy flavors of Sichuan, Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup offers a world of culinary possibilities, all within a single bowl. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and start your journey into the rich and savory world of authentic Chinese cuisine.



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