Learn how to make cream of chicken soup from scratch. It’s easy to make and tastes way better than store-bought.
Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup is loaded with juicy chicken and rich, creamy flavor. And, it’s so easy and to make that there’s no reason to buy the store-bought stuff. I love to make it during the cold months when I have leftover chicken in the fridge. But I’m giving you instructions for making it using uncooked chicken as well.
I love a good chicken soup, whether it’s a classic like Chicken Noodle Soup or Chicken Dumpling Soup, or something more zingy and fun like Chicken Enchilada Soup or Chicken Tortilla Soup, I’m happy with them all!
But, I especially love the comforting, cozy memories of rainy days and a bowl of creamy soup (sometimes condensed from a can, sometimes homemade). When it was homemade, the cream of chicken soup tasted just like the recipe below. I’m delighted to be sharing this recipe with you today because it really is close to my heart.
I’m giving you my delicious Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup recipe below, but first I’m going over some handy substitutions for you, and some tips for making the best creamy chicken soup.
Ingredients And Substitutions
These are the ingredients for this chicken soup recipe:
- Salt & pepper
- Chicken stock
I almost always have these ingredients on hand. So if there’s some leftover chicken in the fridge, chances are this soup is about to happen!
Ingredient Substitutions That Work:
- You can use olive oil or any kind of cooking oil in place of the butter, it just won’t be as rich-flavored.
- Chopped celery, bell pepper, and/or sliced mushrooms can be added to the onion as it sautés, or used in place of the onion.
- Use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, if desired. Just add it right when you add the flour and therefore skip the step where you cook it for 30 seconds.
- Chicken broth can be used instead of chicken stock. Or, you can mix up some bouillon with water to use instead. If you’re using hot water to make your bouillon mixture, be sure to cool it down with ice cubes or cool water, or wait a bit before using it. The reason is that adding a hot liquid to the flour mixture can cause the flour to clump up.
- Instead of heavy cream, you can use 1/2 cup of canned evaporated milk (fat-free, 2%, or whole milk versions work here) or you can use 1/2 cup of half-and-half or of whole milk. Just note that if you use anything other than heavy cream, it can curdle if it’s heated a lot, so keep it all at barely a simmer once you add it in.
What Kind Of Chicken To Use
The recipe calls for cooked chicken. You can use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or whatever leftover chicken you have.
If you’re going to cook chicken specifically to make this, here is how to cook chicken breasts, which work well. You can also use the meat from a roast chicken like this. But honestly, the best chicken to use for soup is chicken thighs because they’re juicier and have more intense chicken flavor. Here’s the best way to cook chicken thighs so you have cooked chicken to add to the soup.
Can You Use Raw Chicken?
Yes! If you’d like to, you can simmer raw chicken in the soup. What you’ll do is to chop up the boneless raw chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season it lightly with some salt. Then add it at the end of Step #4 in the recipe below. That is, you’ll add the chicken right after the stock and flour mixture have come to a boil and then been reduced down to low.
Stir in the chicken and simmer it in there, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked through. It will take about 4-7 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Then you’ll stir in the cream and proceed with the recipe. Note that I prefer chicken thighs if I’m doing this, but breast meat will work as well.
Tips For Making Homemade Cream Of Chicken Soup
You’ll melt the butter in a large saucepan to sauté the onion. Don’t let the butter start to brown before you add the onions. If it darkens too much, it adds a bitter, almost burnt, flavor.
When you add the flour, stir it well into the onions and butter. You don’t want lumps here because then your soup will end up with flour lumps.
You’ll be pouring the chicken stock into the onion and flour mixture. The flour in there is what will thicken the liquid. But again, you don’t want lumps. So make sure that:
- The chicken stock is not warm or hot.
- That you’re pouring really slowly so that you can be stirring everything until smooth before adding more.
- That you’re stirring the whole time so that nothing has the chance to start cooking and clumping.
Once the soup is finished cooking, I like to garnish it with some fresh parsley or chives. But that’s if I’m feeling a bit fancy. It often just gets some saltines cracked into it, or a chunk of bread on the side. It’s also great with a sandwich though!
Storing The Soup: Fridge or Freezer?
You can serve this soup immediately, or store it in the fridge in a covered container for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing this soup though. Soups that contain dairy can separate when they freeze, and this can lead to a grainy texture. I will say that sometimes it has worked for me, but other times it has not. So, only try it if you’re up for the experiment.
More Classic Comforting Soup Recipes
I’m pretty much obsessed with making homemade soup, and so I have a really large collecting of recipes. If you’re as in love with soup as I am, go ahead and browse through all of my soup recipes over here. I’m also going to give you the links to some of my favorite classic homemade soup recipes right here:
Podcast Episode About Making Cream of Chicken Soup
Listen to me explain briefly about how to make this soup, along with some other great tips, by clicking the play button below:Print
Learn how to make cream of chicken soup from scratch. It’s easy to make and tastes way better than store-bought. Just make sure you have some bread to dip into it, or some crackers to crack into there. Enjoy! –Christine
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock*
- 1/2 cup heavy cream**
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- Add the butter to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until melted and bubbly.
- Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper until well-combined. Slowly pour in the chicken stock while continuing to stir.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low.
- Add the cream and the chicken and allow to heat through. Simmer on low for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove from heat and serve, or store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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*If you’re using salted stock or chicken broth, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. The best thing to do would be to just add 1/4 teaspoon at the beginning and then taste it at the end and add more if needed.
**To make a lighter soup, use 1/2 cup of canned evaporated milk (fat-free or 2%) or you can use half-and-half or whole milk. Just note that if you use anything other than cream, it can curdle if it’s heated a lot, so keep it all at barely a simmer once you add it in.