Noodles & Company is a popular fast-casual restaurant chain that serves a variety of noodle dishes, soups, salads and more. Their chicken noodle soup is a fan favorite, made with chicken, veggies and noodles in a savory broth. However, for those with dietary restrictions like lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, an important question arises: does Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup contain dairy?
In this comprehensive guide, we will analyze the ingredients list for Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup to determine if it contains any dairy products or byproducts. We will also look at the preparation methods and possibility of cross-contamination in Noodles & Company kitchens. By the end, you’ll have a clear answer to whether this soup is safe for dairy-free diets.
Examining the Ingredients List
The easiest way to identify if a packaged food product contains dairy is to carefully read the ingredients label. Here are the ingredients listed for Noodles & Company’s Chicken Noodle Soup, according to their website:
– Chicken bone broth
– Chicken thigh meat
– Noodles (wheat flour, egg whites, salt)
– Chicken fat
– Black pepper
Upon initial examination, none of these ingredients seem to be dairy-based. There is no milk, cream, cheese, yogurt or butter listed.
The noodles contain egg whites, but egg whites are not considered dairy. Dairy refers specifically to milk-based products.
So based on the ingredients list alone, Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup appears to be dairy-free. But we need to dig a little deeper before drawing final conclusions.
Analyzing the Chicken Bone Broth
The main ingredient in Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup is chicken bone broth. This savory broth provides the base flavor and is central to the soup.
Chicken bone broth is typically made by simmering chicken bones, meat and vegetables in water for an extended period of time. This allows the bones and meat to release collagen, minerals and nutrients into the water, creating a nourishing stock.
The process for making bone broth does not require any dairy ingredients. However, there is still a possibility that Noodles & Company’s preparation methods could include dairy.
Some cooks add a splash of milk or cream to bone broths for extra body and richness. Vegetables like onions or carrots might be sautéed in butter before going into the broth. And finished broths are sometimes enriched with cream or thickened with roux, a butter and flour mixture.
So while bone broth itself is dairy-free, the version served at Noodles & Company could potentially include some undisclosed milk products or butter. Without greater transparency into their in-house cooking methods, this remains unclear based on the ingredients list alone.
Considering Allergens and Cross-Contamination
For people with severe dairy allergies, labeling of major food allergens is hugely important. In the United States, the top 8 most common allergens must be clearly disclosed on package labels: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
Since dairy is a major allergen, if any milk product were intentionally added to Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup, it would need to be highlighted on the ingredients label or allergen statement.
The absence of a “Contains: Milk” label suggests that, according to regulatory standards, this soup does not contain dairy ingredients. However, people with serious dairy allergies also have to consider the risk of cross-contamination.
Even if a dish does not contain dairy itself, it could pick up traces of milk protein during storage, preparation or serving in a kitchen that also handles dairy products. Cross-contamination can be enough to cause serious allergic reactions in highly sensitive individuals.
Noodles & Company locations prepare all types of dishes, some of which definitely contain dairy like cheese, cream sauces and butter. So while diligent kitchen practices are used to prevent cross-contamination, the risk may still exist. Those with severe dairy allergies need to use their best personal judgement.
Inquiring with the Restaurant
Because the ingredients list and preparation methods for Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup remain somewhat unclear, your best option is to inquire directly with the restaurant about dairy content.
You can speak with a store manager, call their customer service hotline or contact them online to ask specifically whether their chicken noodle soup contains any dairy products or is prepared near dairy.
Many restaurants are happy to accommodate allergen and dietary restriction requests. The staff should be able to definitively say whether their chicken noodle soup broth is made with added cream or butter, or carries risk of dairy cross-contamination.
Some helpful questions to ask:
- Do you add any butter, cream or milk to your chicken noodle soup broth or noodles?
- Do you use any roux or flour thickeners that contain butter in the soup?
- What precautions do you take against dairy cross-contamination in soups?
- Can you confirm your chicken noodle soup is completely dairy-free?
Considering Vegan Options
If you are concerned about dairy in Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup, or simply want to avoid animal products entirely, you may want to consider ordering one of their vegan soups instead.
Some vegan soup options at Noodles & Company include:
- Tomato Basil Soup – contains tomatoes, basil, olive oil, veggies and spices
- Minestrone – vegetables, beans, pasta and light tomato broth
- Spicy Korean Soup with Tofu – tofu instead of chicken, served with rice noodles
These plant-based soups are made without any dairy products, so you can feel confident they align with a vegan diet and will not trigger a dairy allergy. Just check with the restaurant to confirm the soups are prepared without cross-contamination from dairy.
Checking Nutrition Information
One final way to analyze the dairy content of Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup is to check the nutrition information and allergen statement published online.
In the nutrition facts for a 280g serving of their chicken noodle soup, 0% of the Daily Value for calcium is reported. Calcium is the main nutrient found in dairy products. So the lack of calcium reinforces the lack of dairy ingredients.
Additionally, under the “Allergens” section, no milk warning statement is provided. Again, this adds assurance that the soup itself does not contain milk or milk products according to regulatory labeling standards.
However, those with severe dairy allergies would still need to use caution and ask about kitchen protocols to assess cross-contamination potential. But for lactose intolerance, the nutrition facts lend confidence that functionally, the soup is dairy-free.
Based on careful analysis of the ingredients, nutrition facts and preparation methods, Noodles & Company’s chicken noodle soup appears to be free of dairy products in its actual recipe. However, due to potential cross-contamination in restaurant kitchens, individuals with severe dairy allergies need to inquire directly and exercise personal caution. Those simply avoiding dairy for preference like lactose intolerance can be more assured that functionally, the soup itself does not contain milk products or have high amounts of dairy-based nutrients like calcium. To be 100% dairy-free, vegan soup options are also available at Noodles locations. So with proper precautions and questions, most people can enjoy this warming chicken noodle soup as part of a dairy-free diet.