Cuban chicken soup is a comforting and hearty dish with tender chicken, a medley of vegetables, and aromatic spices simmered in a flavorful broth. It's a soul-warming Cuban classic known for being rich and nourishing.Jump to Recipe
The first time I tried cuban chicken soup, I was blown away. It's everything you want a homemade chicken soup to be. Rich, bold flavors are found in every single bite. The chicken is juicy and tender while the vegetables are cooked perfectly. Let the soup simmer on a Sunday afternoon and fill your home with all the tasty warm aromas.
What is Cuban Chicken Soup?
Traditional cuban chicken soup, known as "Sopa de Pollo" in Spanish, is a hearty and comforting soup that is a beloved part of Cuban cuisine. It typically consists of tender pieces of chicken, a variety of vegetables such as carrots, onions, and potatoes. Then seasoned with aromatic spices like cumin and oregano, and sofrito.
The sopa de pollo is usually simmered in a flavorful broth until all ingredients are tender and infused with the delicious seasonings. Cuban chicken soup is known for having a rich, savory flavor. It's served as a comforting meal, especially on cooler days or when someone is feeling under the weather. It's a dish that reflects the hearty and homey qualities of Cuban cooking.
Why You'll Love Cuban Chicken Soup
Flavorful and Hearty: This cuban chicken soup recipe has a rich and savory flavor. The combination of tender chicken, a variety of vegetables, and aromatic spices creates a satisfying and comforting taste experience.
Comfort Food: This soup is the epitome of comfort food. It's warm, nourishing, and perfect for cold or rainy days. It's a go-to dish when someone is feeling under the weather.
Healthy Ingredients: This soup is balanced with nutrients. There are a variety of veggies, a comforting soup, and the chicken is packed with protein.
Aromatic Spices: The use of spices like cumin, oregano, and sofrito gives the soup its distinctive Cuban flavor profile. These spices add depth and complexity to the dish that you wouldn't normally get from a traditional chicken noodle soup.
Easy to Make: Cuban chicken soup is extremely easy to make. Place ingredients in a pot or dutch oven. Simmer until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender. It's that simple.
Bone-in chicken thighs - Bone in chicken is a must for this recipe. The bones create a bone broth that allows chicken to become juicy and tender. Chicken falls off the bone with no effort. I find that chicken thighs bone in, skin on work best in this recipe. Keep in mind you may have a little extra fat on the top of the broth you may consider skimming off for a lighter soup.
Cuban seasoning or sazon goya - Both can be found that the store easily. I chose a cuban seasoning made up of garlic, cumin, oregano, cane sugar, orange oil, and jalapeno pepper. Don't have cuban seasoning on hand? You can make your own. More on that later.
Yellow potatoes - For heartiness. Don't have yellow potatoes? No problem. Russet or red can be used instead. I like using yellow because of the vibrant color it has. It also cooks up nicely in soup because of the low-medium starch content.
Carrots - What is a chicken soup without carrots? I suggest using whole carrots. Be sure to peel before slicing for the best flavor.
Onion - Any type of onion can be used. I've made this with a white and yellow onion and both work great. You could also use a sweet onion for a more mild flavor instead.
Garlic - Fresh garlic is best for this recipe. If you don't have fresh you can use garlic powder or pre-minced if you don't mind the after taste.
Sofrito - An aromatic blend of peppers, onion, garlic, and tomato cooked in olive oil. This enhances the richness of the broth. Can't find sofrito in stores? Make your own and use in soups, rice, to season meats, and more.
Bay leaf - To infuse the broth with an herbal note that's subtle and refreshing.
Chicken broth - The flavorful base of the soup. It is enahnced by the other ingredients.
Corn - I used frozen corn in this recipe because it's cheap and I always have it on hand. Fresh corn can be used if it's in season. Simply slice it off the cob and place it in the soup.
Lemon - The juice of the lemon adds a hint of tanginess and brightness to the broth. Fresh lemon juice is best.
Half length angel hair pasta - The half length pasta is best in this soup because it makes it easier to scoop up when you're eating it. Angel hair pasta is traditionally used in cuban chicken soup but you can substitute with any pasta you have on hand.
Fresh cilantro - Adds freshness and a pop of color to the soup. If you don't have cilantro you can substitute parsley.
Easy Cuban Seasoning Mix
If you don't have cuban seasoning on hand, don't worry. You can make it with the spices you have on hand. Keep in mind this recipe makes more than you'll need for this recipe but it's a perfect blend to keep on hand.
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Combine all ingredients listed above in a small bowl. Mix until well combined before measuring out the amount you need.
How To Make Cuban Chicken Soup
Step 1. Place the chicken, cuban seasoning, potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, sofrito, bay leaf and chicken broth in a large pot or dutch oven.
Step 2. Stir the ingredients together and cover. Place on the stove over medium high heat and bring the soup to a heavy boil.
Step 3. Once the soup is boiling reduce the heat to medium low and simmer covered for 45 minutes.
Step 4. After 45 minutes, uncover the soup and remove the cooked chicken. Place chicken on a cutting board or plate. Skim the surface of the soup of any excess fat.
Step 5. Using two forks separate the bone and skin from the chicken and shred the chicken.
Step 6. Add frozen corn and lemon juice to the pot and bring to a boil uncovered.
Step 7. Once the soup is boiling add the angel hair pasta and cook uncovered for 6 minutes. Once done, remove from heat, garnish with fresh cilantro and serve immediately.
Use Bone-In Chicken: Bone-in chicken pieces, such as thighs or drumsticks, add depth of flavor to the soup. The bones release collagen, creating a richer broth. You can also use a whole chicken cut into pieces. Using boneless chicken may cause the chicken to be a little more dry.
Chicken Broth: To enhance the chicken flavor, use a good-quality chicken broth. Adding chicken broth and then letting it cook with the chicken thighs is going to create a super rich and flavorful bone broth. The quality of chicken broth you use will affect the flavor.
Simmer Slowly: Don't try to speed up the cooking process. The slow simmer in the oven is going to help all the flavors come together and keep the chicken tender and get it to the point where it's falling off the bone.
Skim Off Excess Fat: When you pull the soup out of the oven you'e going to notice a bit of fat on the surface. Take extra time and skim the excess fat so you can have a clearer broth free from impurities. To reduce this a little, trim the chicken thighs of fat before adding to the pot.
Adjust Seasoning: Taste the soup before serving and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and additional herbs or spices if needed. It's important to taste because chicken broth is already salted so you may not need as much extra seasoning as you think.
Cuban Chicken Soup Variations
There are so many ways to customize this soup. Use up the items you already have on hand to make your own variation of this recipe. Below are some populat ways to take this soup to the next level.
Vegetable Variation: Load up the soup with a variety of vegetables like peas, black beans, and green beans for a hearty and nutritious twist.
Rice Variation: Make it a heartier meal by adding cooked white or brown rice directly into the soup instead of pasta. Cuban chicken soup with rice is just as good as it is with pasta.
Avocado Cream: Make a creamy Cuban chicken noodle soup by blending ripe avocado with a bit of broth and then stirring it into the soup. It adds a rich, silky texture.
Spicy Variation: If you love the extra heat, add some diced jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to give the soup a spicy kick.
Seafood Variation: Combine chicken with seafood like shrimp or crab to create a surf and turf Cuban soup. Seafood adds a unique flavor and texture. Add this to the soup at the very end since seafood tends to cook up quickly.
Coconut Milk: Create a Cuban-inspired coconut chicken soup by adding coconut milk toward the end, which adds a creamy and slightly sweet flavor.
Sweet Potato: Add diced sweet potatoes for a naturally sweet and nutrient-rich element that complements the savory flavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this in the instant pot?
If you're short on time you can certainly make this in the pressure cooker. Simply place all ingredients through chicken broth into the instant pot. Place the lid on and turn the vent to the sealed direction. Pressure cook on high for 20 minutes followed by a quick release.
Once the cook time is over remove the chicken thighs and shred using two forks. Turn on the sautee button and bring the soup to the boil (without the chicken). Add the angel hair pasta and cook for 3-5 minutes or until al dente. Press the cancel button.
Finally, add shredded chicken, corn, lemon juice, and garnish with cilantro then serve cuban style chicken noodle soup immediately.
How do I make this Cuban style chicken soup without drying out the chicken?
There are a few tips I have to make sure you have juicy, tender chicken. First, use bone in chicken. The bones help keep the chicken moist during the entire cooking process.
Next, make sure you simmer with the lid on. This helps trap the steam and moisture preventing it from drying out. Finally, make sure you simmer gently. Boiling vigorously for 45 minutes may cause the chicken to become dry and tough.
What part of the chicken is best to use for this recipe?
I highly recommend using chicken thighs. They are forgiving and less prone to drying out than chicken breasts. Thighs also have a slightly higher fat content, which helps keep them moist. I don't recommend using boneless skinless chicken which may become dry during the cooking process.
Can I use chicken bouillon cubes?
Yes, chicken bouillon cubes or broth base can be used to develop flavor in the broth if you don't have stock. Use one serving at a time to ensure it's not too salty. Dissolve the cube in a small bowl with hot water to keep any lumps out of the soup.
Can I freeze the soup?
Soup with pasta doesn't tend to freeze well. The thawing and reheating process can lead to an undesirable texture for the pasta. Therefore, I don't recommend freezing unless you plan to freeze without noodles.
Storing and Reheating
To store the soup, allow it to cool to room temperature. However, don't leave it at room temperature for an extended period; refrigerate it within 2 hours of cooking. Transfer the soup to an airtight container or a covered pot and store for up to 3-4 days.
To reheat, transfer to a saucepan or microwave safe bowl. If reheating on the stovetop, heat over medium-low. Stir until heated through. Don't bring to a boil which can overcook the pasta.
If reheating in the microwave, heat for 30 second increments. Stir and repeat until heated through.
More Soup Recipes
More Chicken Recipes
Authentic Cuban Chicken Soup
- 2.5 lb bone-in chicken thighs bone in and skin on
- 1 tablespoon cuban seasoning or sazon goya
- 2 cups chopped yellow potatoes
- 1 cup roughly chopped carrots
- 1/2 large onion chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons sofrito
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 4 oz half length angel hair pasta
- Place the chicken, cuban seasoning, potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, sofrito, bay leaf and chicken broth in a large pot or dutch oven.
- Stir the ingredients together and cover. Place on the stove over medium high heat and bring the soup to a heavy boil.
- Once the soup is boiling reduce the heat to medium low and simmer covered for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, uncover the soup and remove the cooked chicken. Place chicken on a cutting board or plate. Skim the surface of the soup of any excess fat.
- Using two forks separate the bone and skin from the chicken and shred the chicken.
- Add frozen corn and lemon juice to the pot and bring to a boil uncovered.
- Once the soup is boiling add the angel hair pasta and cook uncovered for 6 minutes. Once done, remove from heat, garnish with fresh cilantro and serve immediately.