Chicken Noodle Soup is a childhood classic. There was nothing better than mom making a big pot of homemade soup during cold and flu season. Since giving up meat, we'd never found a Vegan "Chicken" Noodle Soup that quite hit the spot. A great chicken noodle soup has a depth of flavor that can be hard to replicate with a quick-cooking veggie version. But after lots of testing, we figured out how to make an intensely flavorful Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup—without hours of simmering! This version has the flavors and textures of what we remember from our childhood (minus the real chicken). And, dare we say it's even better!
This soup has a deep, well-developed flavor that comes from browning onions; and then bolstering a quality vegetable stock with garlic, herbs, and veggies. Rather than using a store-bought chicken "meat" alternative, we use shredded mushrooms—tossed in tasty chicken-inspired spices. It looks surprisingly like shredded chicken, don't you think? This soup comes together in just over 45 minutes, and leftovers might be even more delicious the next day!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Cozy and comforting: This recipe channels the familiar flavors of the chicken noodle soup from our childhood...but without the chicken!
- No packaged vegan meat substitutes needed: Shredded oyster mushrooms make a whole foods plant-based alternative, to mimic the look and texture of shredded chicken. Dried spices add more savory flavor.
- Loaded with umami: Chicken noodle soup traditionally gets its umami from chicken bones and meat. Instead, this recipe keeps it vegan by using plant-based umami sources—like mushrooms, nutritional yeast, vegetable stock, and aromatics (garlic, onion, carrots, celery).
- Big flavor(!): Some of the best soups have a long list of ingredients and require hours of simmering on the stove. This recipe strikes a balance of deep, developed flavors, but without an excessive amount of cooking time. News flash: it will take you longer than 30 minutes, but it'll be done in under an hour! After one spoonful, and you'll know it's worth it.
- No soggy noodles: Cooking the noodles separately from the soup helps prevent the noodles from going soggy—especially if you're making a big batch for leftovers or freezing.
Ingredients (and substitutes)
This delicious vegan chicken noodle soup is made with healthy, whole ingredients. You won't need any specialty packaged vegan "meat"—just veggies, seasonings, and some noodles for good measure!
- King Oyster Mushrooms: Shredding these mushrooms with a fork makes them look surprisingly like shredded chicken. Mushrooms are a source of umami, and once seasoned, they become extremely savory. If you can't King Oyster mushrooms, you can use regular Oyster mushrooms instead (see the recipe card for full details). Or, if you don't like mushrooms, just skip them altogether!
- Stock: For amazing results, we highly recommend Better Than Bouillon No Chicken. It really helps the soup taste chicken-y. The Better Than Bouillon Vegetable would be our next-best choice; otherwise, use a high quality vegetable stock you love.
- Noodles: We use wide and short egg noodles for a classic look—many brands make an eggless version! Or, you can use another type of short pasta noodle, if you prefer.
- Celery Salt: This adds an earthy, savory flavor to the dish. Don't skip it! We usually just buy celery salt from the spice aisle of our grocery store for convenience, but you can make your own by mixing 1 part ground celery seed with 2 parts salt.
- Nutritional Yeast: It's a source of umami and it adds a yellow tint, which really makes us think of chicken noodle soup! If you don't have nutritional yeast, you could leave it out—but in our side-by-side taste tests, the nutritional yeast definitely took the flavor up a notch.
Find the recipe card below for the complete recipe, including all ingredients and instructions.
How to make (step-by-step photos)
There are 3 main parts to making this recipe: preparing the mushrooms, cooking the soup, and cooking the noodles. Here are the details on how you make this Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup:
Frequently asked questions
Brands vary, so check the package for conversion instructions. When using Better Than Bouillon, we add 1 teaspoon of bouillon concentrate (paste) for every 1 cup of water. (Note: This uses slightly less paste than their package would suggest, but we find it plenty flavorful and salty at these levels). If using a bouillon cube, we usually use 1 cube for every 2 cups of water—but again, check the package as brands vary.
King Oyster mushrooms have a light, delicate flavor. On their own, they don't really taste like chicken. But, this recipe seasons the mushrooms with spices that are often used on chicken: sage, celery salt, and black pepper. The result is seared mushrooms that look like shredded chicken, seasoned with chicken-inspired spices, and that tastes savory and delicious. We think you'll love it!
In this recipe, we use the light and dark green parts of the leek. The dark green tops of the leeks are edible and flavorful, they're just tougher than the tender white and light green sections. In this soup, we find there's sufficient cook time to soften the dark green sections. And, they add pops of green color too!
Yes, you can freeze it. If freezing, let the soup cool after cooking, then transfer it to freezer safe bags or containers. We recommend cooking the mushrooms and pasta fresh the day you're eating it. But, you could also cook the mushrooms, then add them back to the cooled soup and freeze together. This recipe keeps the noodles separate from the liquid, to prevent the noodles from swelling, so we do not recommend freezing the noodles with the soup.
Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup
- 12 oz king oyster mushrooms (trumpet mushrooms, see note 1)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ¾ teaspoon dried ground sage
- 1½ teaspoon celery salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb yellow onions, diced (3 cups)
- 3 carrots, thinly sliced
- 3 celery, thinly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups chopped leek (about 1 medium)
- 10 cups vegan chicken stock (or vegetable stock, see note 2)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 7 oz dried egg-free wide ribbon noodles (or egg noodles, see note 3)
- Shred mushrooms: Cut off the mushroom tops and slice them as thin as possible. Then, rake a fork down the base of the remaining stems to shred them.
- Cook mushrooms: Heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Scatter in mushrooms. Let cook undisturbed until golden brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Cook, stirring infrequently, until half the mushrooms are brown, another 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in sage, ¾ teaspoon (3.75 ml) of the celery salt, and pepper. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
- Cook veggies: Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil to the pot. Add onion and cook until golden brown on the edges, about 6 minutes. Add carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and the remaining ¾ teaspoon (3.75 ml) celery salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Simmer: Stir in the leeks, vegan chicken stock, and nutritional yeast. Cover with a lid partially ajar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Cook noodles: Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and shake well. (Note: To prevent noodles from sticking, drizzle a bit of extra olive oil over the noodles in the colander. Then shake to lightly coat)
- Assemble: Divide the noodles and mushrooms into bowls, then ladle the hot soup over top. Garnish with more pepper.
- Mushrooms: King Oyster mushrooms have large white stalks and brown tops. The stalks are edible—that's where the "meat" shredding action happens (see post above for photos). You can find at well-stocked grocery stores and Asian grocery stores. You can substitute King Oyster with regular Oyster mushrooms, but they won't have quite the same "shredded chicken" appearance. If using Oyster mushrooms, simply tear them them into thin strands using your fingers (a fork isn't necessary). Alternatively, if you don't like mushrooms, omit them and skip step 1 and 2. If omitting the mushrooms, you can prepare the rest of the soup as is, or if you prefer, add a prepared vegan shredded chicken substitute to the bowls just before serving.
- Stock: For best results, we recommend Better Than Bouillon No Chicken (or if not available, Better Than Bouillon Vegetable). Or feel free to use another high quality vegetable stock you love.
- Noodles: You can use wide (broad) egg (or eggless) noodles for this recipe. Alternatively, use a short pasta noodle. Choose gluten-free if needed.
- Storage tips: Store the soup and noodles separately, so the noodles don't swell. To prevent the noodles from sticking together, lightly toss them with extra olive oil after cooking and draining. To reheat, warm the soup over the stove, then spoon the hot soup over the noodles in bowls—or submerge the noodles in the pot of soup right before serving.