Smoked chicken soup is a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for a winter meal. This soup is made with smoked chicken, onions, carrots, and celery, and is simmered in a chicken broth. The smoky flavor of the chicken pairs perfectly with the vegetables in this soup and makes for a delicious and comforting meal.
This smoked chicken soup recipe is delicious and easy. It is one of my favorite dishes on a cold fall or winter day. It is the perfect way to warm up from September to January and those cold long periods manning the smoker. If you have never made chicken soup before and this is your first time, it is really quite easy. This recipe will walk you through each step and I have added a few different variations to give you a few other options as well.
Ingredients for Smoked Chicken Soup
Smoked Chicken - This is a great recipe for leftover smoked chicken. If you don't already have smoked chicken, you will need to smoke some. Dark meat is the best for a soup so that it doesn't dry out if you overcook it. Legs and chicken thighs are the best choices for this homemade chicken soup recipe. I find if you use just breast meat, there is a chance you will overcook the chicken and it will get chewy. The dark meat gives you more of a tender fall-apart texture.
Chicken Stock - There are so many options for chicken stock. I love making my own and allowing it to simmer for a day. You can also use store-bought or bullion. If you want some ideas for making your own, check out the options below in this post.
Celery - Celery is a classic mirepoix ingredient. I also like to cut larger chunks to add as I am finished with the chicken soup. They add volume and size to the soup. Don't overcook them so that you still have a bit of texture.
Carrots - Similar to celery. I use them finely diced in my mirepoix but also add larger chunks for texture in the soup.
Yellow Onion - These are one of the most versatile veggies. Diced onion adds a depth of flavor and sweetness to the soup.
Salt and Black Pepper - You need to make sure the soup is seasoned well. The amount you use will really depend a lot on the stock you have. Be sure to check your stock ingredients if you didn't make it homemade and always taste as you season to avoid over-seasoning.
Noodles or Rice (These are optional) - If you are looking for a fuller soup and want to include ingredients other than veggies or protein, you can easily add noodles or rice as an option. My kids tend to prefer the chicken noodle soup route, so I give them that option. Egg noodles, small elbows, or even orzo are a few of our favorite noodle options for Smoked Chicken soup.
How to Make Smoked Chicken Soup
Step One - Smoke some chicken. You can either smoke a whole chicken or smoke some chicken legs. The key is to smoke chicken that is still on the bone. There are two reasons for this. The first is that cooking meat on the bone gives more flavor to the meat. Secondly, we will use the bones to create a delicious chicken stock to be used as our chicken broth in the recipe. You can just use smoked chicken breasts if you don't plan to make your own stock. You just want to be careful that you don't overcook the breasts or they can easily dry out.
All you need to do is season your chicken with salt and pepper. Put it into a preheated smoker and close the lid. Smoke the chicken at 225°F until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. For chicken legs, that will be about 90 minutes depending on the size of the legs.
Cooking Tip: If you have a Traeger Pellet Grill, I recommend using the super-smoke feature during this smoke to give the meat a great amount of smoky flavor.
Step Two - Once the chicken is cooked. Remove the meat from the bone. Cut the meat into small half-inch cubes and put them into a container and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Step Three - Place the chicken bones, or if you used a whole chicken, place the whole carcass into a large stockpot and cover it with water. Simmer with the lid on for up to 12 hours. You can also do this in a slow cooker and cook for 24 hours. If you don't have time to make your own stock, you can also use bullion or premade chicken stock to use for your soup. If you want to cook the soup on the smoker, just use a dutch oven or large soup pot made from stainless steel. Keep the temperature in the 300°F range for consistent cooking.
Step Four - Prepare your veggies. To start a soup base we will start with the traditional mirepoix. This is a combination of celery, carrots, and onions. The traditional ratio is one part carrot, one part celery, and two parts onions. While you cutting up your veggies, I recommend adding a few larger pieces of carrots and celery to have some larger vegetable bites in the finished soup.
Step Five - Add the small minced mirepoix ingredients to a preheated stock pot. Cook the vegetables down until the carrots are soft and the onions are translucent.
Step Six - Next, add the rest of the cut veggies and the chicken stock.
Step Seven - Once the stock comes to a boil, add smoked chicken pieces. Cook the soup over low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the chicken to get hot and the flavors to blend together.
Step Eight - Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until they are well incorporated.
The End: Enjoy your Smoked Chicken Soup.
Easy variations for your soup recipes
Chicken Noodle Soup - If you want to make this Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, I recommend cooking whatever pasta you want to use. Make sure that the noodles are only cooked to al dente. You want firmer noodles to be used in the soup so they do not fall apart. I recommend placing the noodles in the soup bowl and then ladling the soup over them. If you decide to add all the noodles to the soup, it becomes harder for leftovers. I'm sure this variation will becomes one of your favorite chicken noodle soup recipes.
Creamy Soup - If you'd like a creamy soup simply add ½-1 cup of heavy cream during the last step.
Chicken Rice Soup - Similar to the noodles, cook the rice first and then put a scoop of rice into your bowl and ladle the hot soup over it.
Fresh Herbs - If you want to add some fresh herbs to give a little different flavor profile, I recommend fresh dill, thyme, or sage. Just dice and add to the soup. You can also use some fresh parsley as a garnish for a beautiful presentation. Bay leaves can be simmered with the soup and then removed.
Smoked Vegetables - If you want to add more onions, bell peppers, garlic cloves, mushrooms, or zucchini, smoke the veggies until they are tender when you are smoking the chicken. It will add an additional great smoky flavor to the soup.
Other Vegetables - You can really add anything you like. Corn, peas, and potatoes are all standard additions.
Spicy Chicken Soup - You can also rely on spices like chili powder, or crushed red pepper to give a kick to this dish. You can also smoke some jalapeno peppers, slice them, and add them to the soup for another spicy flair.
Add Cheese - My favorite is cheese. Grated parmesan cheese added to chicken soup reminds me of how my grandmother used to serve soup before every Holiday meal. You can also go with cheddar or swiss and let it get nice and melty in the soup. It is an easy way to aff more texture to the soup.
Chicken Stock - Options for making homemade stock
For the best chicken soup recipe, you want to make your own stock. As I mentioned in the post, I love to smoke the meat on the bone, remove the meat, add them to a large stock pot, cover them with cold water, then bring them to a boil and simmer them for about 12 hours. If you don't want to use the stove, you can also use a slow cooker and simmer for up to 24 hours.
If you are trying to save time, you can also use your instant pot or pressure cooker. That will only take about 2 hours on high pressure.
You can also make it ahead of time. Sometimes if we get a rotisserie chicken, I will pick the remaining meat off of it and save it for chicken soup and I will use the carcass to make stock. Then I can freeze it and use it when I need it at a later moment. There isn't anything much better than homemade chicken stock. It really helps make the best soup.
- 2.5 lbs chicken legs or bone in thighs
- 1 cup carrots diced
- 1 cup celery diced
- 2 cups onions diced
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoon pepper
- Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. Then place them in your preheated smoker. Close the lid and smoke at 225°F for about 90 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken legs reaches 165°F.
- Remove the chicken legs from the smoker and allow them to rest. Once the legs are cool enough to touch, remove the meat from them and dice the meat into small one inch sized cubes. Place them into a container and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Once the pot is hot add the carrots, celery, and onions. Stir and cook down until the carrots are tender and the onions are translucent, next add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Then add the smoked chicken and turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Use salt and pepper to season to taste. Then serve and enjoy!