Chicken quinoa soup is an upgrade to the classic chicken noodle. It’s perfect for sick days and warming up on cold nights!
Hello, friends! Every year the February cold front that hits the dessert always takes me by surprise! After the holidays, I expect it to go back to summer, which makes sense because we only have two seasons here: mild winter and hot. Maybe we have a couple of days of “fall or spring-like” weather, but it isn’t impressive. I digress.
While the “for real” cold front hits the rest of the country in the form of blizzards and whatever else happens where it snows, I’m always taken off guard by how cold it can get here. I mean, it’s not blizzarding and snowing me in, but, like any good native Phoenician (some parts of Arizona do get a lot of snow, just not Phoenix), I’m wildly unprepared for weather under 50 degrees and immediately sent running into the house to make cozy heart soup recipes and put on all my warmest clothes that I know I will only get to wear a couple more times.
I’m not too fond of quinoa as a plain side dish (bleh – tastes like earth or dirt, and yes, I rinse it) but, what I love to do with quinoa is use it on a spin-off of a traditional recipe. I did this with my quinoa mac and cheese, my carrot cake quinoa muffins, and a WHOLE bunch of casserole recipes I linked below.
After we were all getting over the ‘rona, I got the idea to make a chicken noodle soup, but with quinoa instead of noodles. I wanted it to be all the delicious things classic chicken noodle soup is, flavorful, salty, and comforting, but the bonus of fluffy and slightly nutty quinoa. It came out better than I could ever imagine! The quinoa fills out the soup and adds a delicious flavor you wouldn’t get with noodles. I can’t wait for you to try it!
How to Make Chicken Quinoa Soup
I mean, outside of chopping and slicing the veggies, this recipe couldn’t get any easier. And prepping the veggies isn’t hard. It can just be time-consuming (see below for time-saving tips.) Everything goes in the one stockpot or dutch oven and cooks until tender. Easy peasy and freezer-friendly (see below for instructions!)
Swaps and Substitution Ideas
- Swap carrots, onions, and celery for a pre-made frozen mirepoix mix, saving you a significant amount of time chopping or slicing veggies. I was planning on using frozen mirepoix for this recipe, but, sadly I couldn’t get any at the store.
- Use 3lbs bone-in chicken thighs if you want to amp up the flavor a bit. You can also sub the 2lbs chicken thighs for 2lbs chicken breast if that’s all you have on hand or what you prefer!
- Swap 12 cups of unsalted chicken broth and added salt for 8 cups of regular chicken broth and 4 cups of water.
- Use any kind of quinoa, including red or tri-color.
Can you freeze chicken quinoa soup?
Yes, you can! To freeze my chicken quinoa soup for up to 3 months:
Option 1: Freeze this soup after it’s completely cooled in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Make sure to leave at least 1/3 of the container empty because liquid expands when it freezes.
Option 2: Since this soup contains a huge amount of broth (thanks to the quinoa needing to soak so much of it up), you can freeze this soup prepped with or without the liquid. If I were going to freeze this soup, I’d probably freeze it with just four cups of broth so that I didn’t have to find a container or multiple containers to hold 12 cups of liquid. Then, I’d write on the bag, “add 8 cups of chicken broth for cooking.”
- bay leaves
- chicken thighs
- uncooked quinoa
- 4 -12 cups of broth
To cook – defrost under refrigeration. Once it’s defrosted, dump the whole thing in a slow cooker or a large stock pan. In a slow cooker, cook for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low until the chicken is cooked through. In a stock pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered until chicken is cooked through and quinoa is fluffy.
Can you make chicken quinoa soup in the slow cooker?
Yes! This is the ideal method if you don’t have uniformly sliced veggies, which if cut too thick can take up to two hours on the stove! No one has that kind of time to watch soup. To make this chicken quinoa soup in the slow cooker just dump all the ingredients in and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours. (Skip the step about sauteeing your veggies.) Your chicken will likely end up shredding instead of dicing because it will be so tender!
Can you make chicken quinoa soup in the instant pot or pressure cooker?
Yes, probably. However, I haven’t tested it. I’m quite certain that there may be too much of this soup to fit in a standard 6qt instant pot. You’d likely be past the PC max line.
If you chose to make this chicken quinoa soup in the instant pot, I would suggest scaling back on the liquid to 8 cups and making sure you do not surpass the PC max line. Then, I’d start with a cooking time of 15-20 minutes followed by a natural release of 20 minutes. (Add 5-10 minutes to the cooking time for frozen chicken.) Let us know if you try it let us know your modifications and how it turns out by leaving a comment below!
More Fun Things To Do With Quinoa:
- Quinoa “Mac” and Cheese
- Spicy Quinoa Skillet
- Quinoa Enchilada Skillet
- Quinoa Breakfast Bars
- Carrot Cake Quinoa Muffins
- Mini Pizza Quinoa Quiches
- Spanakopita quinoa casserole
- Kung pao quinoa casserole
- Creamy chicken casserole
- 18+ Healthy Quinoa Recipes
Chicken Quinoa Soup
- 1 mandolin
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or unsalted butter
- 1 onion diced
- 4 cups carrots peeled and sliced
- 5 celery ribs sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 12 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp lemon juice optional
- Prep your veggies by using a mandolin to slice carrots and celery. Using a mandolin will ensure that your soup will cook in under 30 minutes. Otherwise, unevenly sized veggies may cause the soup to take significantly longer to cook! Alternatively, you can dice them.
- Melt butter or oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook, occasionally stirring, until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add chicken broth, bay leaves, salt, pepper, chicken, and quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through and the quinoa is fluffy about 20-30 minutes.*
- Remove the soup from heat and then remove the chicken, dice, and return to soup—salt and pepper soup to your final taste. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon juice. Serve immediately.
- bay leaves
- chicken thighs
- uncooked quinoa
- 4 -12 cups of broth