This is comfort in a bowl – chicken and rice in a thick creamy soup. Dress it up with some roasted fingerling potatoes, a parmesan crouton, or a crumble of crispy bacon. Or just have it in a mug with a grilled cheese sandwich. This soup demands nothing but a cold day outside to appreciate it.
I was supposed to have this soup years ago for a winter dinner at my friend Venus’s house. Instead I delivered my second baby. After things settled down, the nurses offered me the dinner choice of a vending machine turkey sandwich or a Lean Cuisine frozen meal. I ate the sandwich – reluctantly – but really celebrated the next day when Venus brought me soup to the hospital.
Now Venus is fearless in the kitchen in a way that I am not. She makes mashed potatoes to die for – but truly you risk bypass surgery afterward, because the recipe calls for something like a pound of butter for every two pounds of potatoes (actually, I think it’s the Joel Robuchon potato puree, which calls for a stick of butter for every pound of potato). I have stubbornly healthy tendencies that don’t allow me to make those potatoes or that fantastic Cooks Illustrated coconut layer cake that has a pound of butter in the frosting alone.
But this is why Venus’s food – and restaurant food – tastes so great, because Venus and restaurant chefs do things (like melt a stick of butter on top of your steak) that your conscience wouldn’t allow you to do at home. I thoroughly enjoyed the soup from Venus, rich with cream and sour cream, but of course I had to modify the recipe for plain old milk when I went to make it myself. I’ll include Venus’s version in the notes here for the fearless among you.
This is a great recipe for leftover chicken, as you are likely to have the rest of the ingredients on hand.
I didn’t have leftover chicken, so I defrosted a couple chicken breasts.
The classic base of onion, celery and carrot (or mirepoix, as Fancy Nancy would say).
Saute vegetables in olive oil. Add diced chicken, salt, pepper and thyme. Thyme smells like Thanksgiving to me.
Add chicken broth.
Add rice and simmer. I like to use brown rice, which doesn’t get as mushy left over. But white rice is great and cooks faster too.
When rice is almost cooked, it’s time to make the creamy part of the soup. Start with butter and flour to make a roux (another Fancy Nancy word). Whisk well.
Add milk, whisking constantly; simmer until thickened.
Add milk mixture to soup along with final flavorings.
Enjoy your bowl of fall comfort.
Creamy chicken and rice soup
A comforting cold weather soup. Handy to make with leftover chicken, as you’re likely to have the other ingredients on hand.
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cups diced chicken breast (raw or cooked)
- 3/4-1 cup white or brown rice (3/4 cup makes a looser soup)
- 8 cups chicken stock or broth
- 4-5 drops Worcestershire sauce
- 6 drops Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
- A shake of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- Heat olive oil on medium heat in Dutch oven or other large pot. Saute onions until tender.
- Add celery, carrots and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
- If using raw chicken: Add raw diced chicken. Saute until chicken is no longer pink.
- Add chicken stock and rice. Cover, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer until rice is cooked. White rice cooks faster than brown (approximately 20 minutes for white vs 40 for brown). Add 1 cup of water if the rice absorbs all the liquid.
- In separate saucepan, prepare roux. Melt butter on medium heat. Add flour and stir with a wire whisk. Let cook a minute, stirring constantly.
- Add milk slowly, whisking constantly to smooth out lumps. After milk is incorporated, continue cooking a few minutes, whisking occasionally, until thickened and bubbly.
- Add milk mixture to soup. Stir.
- If using cooked chicken: Add diced chicken.
- Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and cayenne pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Can add some roasted fingerling potatoes as a garnish, or parmesan cheese toasts would be great also.
- Add water when reheating leftover soup to loosen it up.
- Venus’s creamier version: Venus sautes onions in 8 tablespoons of butter, then slowly adds 1/4 cup flour, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes. She then proceeds to add carrots, celery, rice and broth as outlined in steps 2-4 above. After rice is almost cooked, she adds 1 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of sour cream before adding cooked chicken and final seasonings.
Here’s a link to the print version: Creamy chicken and rice soup for printing.