Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup With Lime and Ginger Recipe (2024)

With nothing but a single burner, a chicken, and a few vegetables, you can pull together a good soup in a little over an hour.


J. Kenji López-Alt

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup With Lime and Ginger Recipe (1)

Culinary Consultant

Kenji is the former culinary director for Serious Eats and a current culinary consultant for the site. He is also a New York Times food columnist and the author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.

Learn about Serious Eats'Editorial Process

Updated February 04, 2024

Trending Videos

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup With Lime and Ginger Recipe (2)

Why It Works

  • Cutting the chicken carcass into small pieces reduces the simmering time necessary to achieve a full-flavored broth.
  • Adding the chicken breast toward the end of cooking keeps it from overcooking and turning dry.
  • Lemongrass, ginger, Thai chiles, fish sauce, ham, scallions, herbs, and lime juice make this soup much more savory, spicy, and aromatic than traditional chicken noodle soup.

Last week it seemed like every single person in the office was sick, which meant chicken soup was on the brain. While Ed loves his Jewish-style chicken soup, we're also smack dab in the middle of Chinatown, which makes access to Southeast Asian ingredients like lemongrass, fish sauce, and Thai chile as easy as a walk down the block.

The end result is a soup that's as fortifying as the best chicken noodle, but with a bit of kick from its sour/sweet/pungent flavor profile. With nothing but a single burner, a chicken, and a few vegetables, you can pull together a good soup in a little over an hour. The first key is to make extracting flavor and gelatin from the chicken bones as easy as possible. This means chopping the carcass into very fine pieces.

I remove the breasts and legs, then take the body and chop it up into fine pieces with a heavy knife or cleaver (you can use kitchen shears or even a food processor for this if you'd like—the more finely chopped it is, the richer your broth will be). When chopped finely enough, you can get a strong, flavorful broth with just about 30 to 45 minutes of simmering. I tossed in a stalk of lemongrass (also chopped finely), a few scallion bottoms (I saved the top for garnish), some slices of ginger, some mint and cilantro stems (keep the leaves for garnish) and a small hunk of ham in along with the chopped chicken bones.

The next trick to great chicken soup is to make sure the meat is cooked right. That means that legs should go in at the beginning along with the chopped bones to make sure that they fully tenderize, while breasts should go in only for the last 10 minutes or so—any longer and they dry out. I like to shred the chicken meat by hand into nice bite-sized chunks.

With a good stock base and the chicken shredded, the rest of the soup comes together really quickly. I just simmered some carrots, onions, and cabbage, then flavored the broth with a few splashes of fish sauce, some chopped Thai chiles (you can use serrano or jalapeño), a bit of soy, and a good squeeze of lime. Ramen-style wheat noodles go well in the broth, but regular old egg noodles would do fine as well.

A handful of fresh herbs and scallion greens added to the hot broth release their aroma. This is good stuff. The kind of stuff that makes you long for winter even on a nice spring day.

March 2012

Recipe Details

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup With Lime and Ginger Recipe

Prep10 mins

Cook90 mins

Active30 mins

Total100 mins

Serves4 servings


  • 1 whole small chicken, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds

  • 3 quarts water

  • 4 ounces smoked ham, ham hock, or bacon

  • One 3-inch knob ginger, roughly chopped

  • 4 whole garlic cloves, smashed

  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, dry outer leaves, pale yellow/green section only, chopped fine

  • 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and stems reserved separately

  • 1 small bunch mint, leaves and stems reserved separately

  • 6 scallions, greens and whites reserved separately, greens sliced thin

  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 2 medium carrots, finely sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 1 small head Napa cabbage, finely sliced (about 2 cups)

  • 1 Thai bird chile, very finely sliced (see note)

  • 1 cup dried egg noodles or rice noodles or 8 ounces fresh ramen-style Japanese or Chinese wheat noodles

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1/4 cup juice from 2 to 3 limes

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • Kosher saltto taste


  1. Using a sharp knife and following the bone, remove the breasts from the chicken carcass. Discard skin and set breasts aside. Remove legs from chicken and set aside. Using a heavy knife or cleaver, roughly chop the body into fine pieces. Transfer the chicken body and legs to a large saucepan. Add ham, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, cilantro stems, mint stems, and scallion whites. Cover with water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce to low and simmer, skimming scum from surface and topping up with hot water as necessary, until rich and flavorful, about 45 minutes total. Add chicken breasts to pot for last 10 minutes of cooking.

  2. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer into a 2 quart liquid measuring cup. Remove cooked chicken legs and breasts to a plate and set aside. Discard remaining solids. Add enough hot water to broth to equal two quarts. Rinse pot and return broth to it. Add onion, carrots, cabbage, and Thai chile and bring to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes longer, adding noodles in for last 5 minutes of cooking time (or according to package directions).

  3. Meanwhile, when chicken is cool enough to handle, roughly shred breast and leg meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding skin and bones.

  4. When noodles and vegetables are soft, add fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, and shredded chicken to pot. Season to taste with salt (if necessary). Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with picked mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and scallion greens.


Make sure to carefully wash your cutting board and hands after chopping the Thai chile. You can use 1 jalapeño or 1 serrano chile in place of the Thai chile.

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
24g Fat
51g Carbs
76g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g31%
Saturated Fat 7g36%
Cholesterol 233mg78%
Sodium 2512mg109%
Total Carbohydrate 51g19%
Dietary Fiber 6g21%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 76g
Vitamin C 27mg137%
Calcium 166mg13%
Iron 7mg39%
Potassium 1199mg26%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup With Lime and Ginger Recipe (2024)


Why do people put lemon juice in chicken noodle soup? ›

use a bit of lemon juice in mine to brighten up the. flavor, and it adds such a welcome element. I love to. use a fun pasta shape for a soup like this, such as.

How to add extra flavor to chicken soup? ›

Fresh Herbs:Add fresh herbs like parsley, dill, or cilantro just before serving for a burst of fresh flavor. Citrus Zest:Grate the zest of a lemon or lime into the soup just before serving to add brightness. Ginger and Turmeric:Add grated ginger and a touch of ground turmeric for warmth and depth of flavor.

Why add vinegar to chicken noodle soup? ›

Add Vinegar To Begin With To Avoid Oversalting

Vinegar, much like salt, is a flavor enhancer — it not only imparts its own taste and acidity to a soup, but in small quantities, it helps to bring out the brightness of other ingredients as well.

How to spice up chicken noodle soup from the can? ›

If you love food with some zing to it, drizzling in some hot sauce can be a great way to bring on the heat and give your soup an extra edge. Or, mix in some parsley, dill, or other fresh herbs to lend different tasting notes to your meal.

Do you add lime juice before or after cooking? ›

Adding lime juice too early can even make your dish bitter and discolored. To ensure your dish bursts with lime flavor without hiccups, add the lime juice after taking the dish off the heat. Similarly, if you're using lime zest, sprinkle it in during the last few minutes of cooking to maintain that zesty freshness.

What will be the impact of adding lime juice to his recipe? ›

Lime juice in cooking

Lime juice will enhance the flavour of fruits, vegetables, salads, and other dishes without adding fat or a lot of calories. It also allows less salt to be used. Like lemon, lime juice is also used in baked goods and desserts to provide a light, fresh flavour like the famous Key Lime pie.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Golda Nolan II

Last Updated:

Views: 5981

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Golda Nolan II

Birthday: 1998-05-14

Address: Suite 369 9754 Roberts Pines, West Benitaburgh, NM 69180-7958

Phone: +522993866487

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Shopping, Quilting, Cooking, Homebrewing, Leather crafting, Pet

Introduction: My name is Golda Nolan II, I am a thoughtful, clever, cute, jolly, brave, powerful, splendid person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.