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Most noodle soup recipes that I see call for boiling and draining the noodles separately, then adding them to the broth already cooked. Is there any reason that I can't just add the dry noodles 10 minutes before the soup is done, and add a little extra water or broth to compensate for that the noodles take? Doing it this way would allow the noodles to take up some of the broth's flavor, and also save dirtying an extra pot and a colander.

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

similar to what julio said, the main reason is that typical wheat-based noodles release a lot of starch into the water, which changes the consistency of the soup. the starches can add a dirty colour to the water, but more than that, they can also thicken the soup undesirably (think of making a roux). Finally, if there are leftovers, the noodles can sometimes become completely water logged, making eating it the next day a bit of a soggy experience.

That said, with all these considerations there are times when you might add the noodles directly in-- non-starchy noodles (eg. like rice noodles) seem to do ok. also parboiling regular pasta before hand seems to help a lot with the starch and can still help you achieve the flavour integration you mentioned.

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Just what I needed to know. I frequently thicken with corn starch anyway, so a little extra thickener hurts nothing. "water logged" noodles in a second day soup never bothers me. – Matthew Scouten Aug 28 '10 at 3:41
I agree with JessyKate, especially because of the leftover issue. I've had some noodles swell up so much the next day that they take up most of the broth. Plus, you don't want starchy soup and you shouldn't really boil the soup that strongly. – user24565 Apr 24 '14 at 23:56

Some people prefer to cook them separately because when you do so, you can see the water changes color a little and they don't want that (mainly flour) in their soups.

Another advantage is that you can have your soup ready and just cook the noodles on demand. The noodles go to boiling water, the soup is just very hot, but not boiling. That's what restaurants do.

If those reasons are not important for you, do as most of us do and cook them together :)

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+1 for the flour comment. This is especially pertinent with well-floured homemade noodles. – justkt Aug 18 '10 at 12:28

That's how I cook noodle soup. And yes, it does give them a nice flavor. Just be sure you don't add them too soon: it's easy to over-cook the noodles by leaving them too long in the hot broth.

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Well first of all, any sauce you make that'll have pasta in it, must have at least 1 to 2 tablespoons of pasta water in it, i.e. 1 to tbsp of the water you boiled the pasta with.

Second of all, it's all about the amount. If let's say you're adding a 1/2 cup of rigatoni or fussili then you're fine, add'er up; but be advised when reheating, pasta will break easily on you. If you're putting let's say skinny noodle type pasta, then don't put it from the start. What you can do is half boil the pasta in the normal water, drain it, and then add it to your soup 5 / 10 minutes before it's done.

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I would say NEVER cook noodles at the same time for all the reasons the smart friends above suggested but my adamant reason is that it makes the soup look and taste like dishwater!

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I agree that it can be bad for the appearance, but I don't think pasta starch dissolved into a soup makes it taste like dishwater... – Jefromi Oct 19 '14 at 18:46

With a cream-based soup the added starch adds desired thickness. It isn't worse for the soup than adding corn starch or extra flour, and color change would be indistinguishable. Same for a tomato-based soup, or an egg-flower soup.

I like robust soups in general, and I think throwing the water out in general is a terrible thing to do to a food product. Any soup that calls for discarding more nutrients and flavor from a product already 'enriched' out of the crop's natural value isn't one I'd be interested in cooking. Cooking flavor into the noodles beats wringing more out.

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Madness? This is ... just starch, from a refined flour product, all the good stuff has already been milled out... – rackandboneman Jan 18 at 0:16

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