Your Guide to Picking the Best Noodles for Any Type of Soup

updated Jul 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

In all their many forms, noodle soups are comforting and seriously delicious. But sometimes they can also prove a little confusing, especially when it comes to choosing the best type of noodle to add to your soup. Pasta or egg noodles? Soba or rice noodles?

Wonder no more! Here’s your guide to picking the best noodles for any type of soup.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Chicken Noodle Soup: Egg Noodles

While similar to traditional pasta, these noodles contain a higher egg-to-wheat ratio. There are two varieties of egg noodle. The dried German variety, which is short and corkscrew-shaped, is the noodle to use for chicken noodle soup.

Chinese egg noodles, which are much longer and thinner and available fresh or dried, are an ideal match for light and meaty broth-based soups like won ton noodle soup.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Minestrone: Tiny Pasta

Traditional Italian dried pasta made from semolina and wheat is the perfect match for hearty broth-based soups that are loaded vegetables, beans, or meat, like minestrone and pasta e fagioli. Smaller shapes, like pipettes, elbows, mini farfalle, and orzo work best.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Japanese Noodle Soup: Wheat Udon Noodles

Udon is a type of thick Japanese noodle with a soft, chewy texture, that’s made with wheat flour. These noodles have a mild taste and are commonly served as a noodle soup with a mild broth made from dashi, soy sauce, and mirin, then topped with scallions. Udon noodles can be sold dried, fresh, or frozen.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Soba Noodle Soup: Buckwheat Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are dried, thin, flat noodles made from buckwheat flour and have a strong, yet wonderful nutty flavor. These noodles are also commonly used in hot Japanese soups, though their nuttiness also makes them a nice complement to rich vegetable soups.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Ramen Noodle Soup: Wheat Ramen Noodles

These lightly springy, popular noodles belong in once place: ramen, the Japanese noodle soup (that may or may not be dead). Traditionally, this soup is made with meat or fish-based broth, flavored with soy sauce and miso, and topped with sliced meat, seaweed, green onions, and sometimes egg. Instant ramen is usually made from wheat flour that’s been cooked, fried, and dehydrated, but fresh ramen is made from wheat (and sometimes egg) and alkalized water.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Vietnamese Pho: Rice Vermicelli Noodles

Made from rice flour, these noodles come fresh or dried. In terms of shape, rice noodles can be vermicelli, which have a similar thickness as angel hair pasta, or cut wider. If you’re making pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) or any kind of Thai-inspired soup, get your rice noodles ready, because this is where they belong.