Sunday, February 22, 2015

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Isn't soup just the best in the winter?  I think so.
 It's so comforting...filling, yet healthy, and it can last for multiple meals or feed a large group. 
Chicken Wild Rice soup is definitely one of my all-time favorites.  A soft & warm homemade roll beside it also makes me pretty happy I have to admit. 

Whether you're feeling under the weather, or you just want to warm up quickly on a cold winter afternoon or evening - this soup is sure to make you feel better in no time. 

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
7 Tbsp butter, diced, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups l chicken broth or stock (I make my own homemade stock – recipe here)
1/2 tsp of each dried thyme & rosemary
1-2 bay leaves
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced or shredded* (see below for three options for cooking the chicken either ahead of time, or with the soup)  
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp lemon zest

Prepare wild rice according to directions listed on package.  I recommend using a rice cooker if you have one, but either way I like to make the rice a day ahead or at least leave plenty of time before I plan to make the soup since wild rice can take a while to cook.

In a separate large pot, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté until slightly tender, about 4 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sautéing. Add chicken broth, thyme, rosemary, & bay leaf and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

For the chicken:
You have a few options and every option is good, but it just depends on what you prefer and have time for.
Option 1: you can make the chicken breasts a day ahead in the crock pot (or bake in oven).  I like this option because it allows me to make more than I need and then split up for various meals throughout the week, or freeze the cooked chicken that I don’t put in the soup for later use. 

Option 2: you could cook the chicken in the stock pot you will make the soup in at the beginning with a bit of olive oil or but, then remove from the pan and dice into cubes or shred.

Option 3: After adding the chicken broth to the stockpot with the veggies, increase heat to medium-high, add raw chicken breasts and bring mixture to a boil. Cover pot with lid and allow mixture to boil 12 - 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (rotating chicken to opposite side once during cooking for thicker chicken breasts - if they don't fully immerse in broth). Remove chicken and set aside on cutting board to cool 5 minutes then shred into small bite size pieces.

If you are not cooking the chicken right in the broth (option 1 or 2), simply simmer the broth & veggies for 12-15 minutes.  

After chicken is cooked (with any of the options), then reduce heat to low and add cooked rice. Add shredded chicken to soup. Remove bay leaf.

In a separate medium saucepan, melt remaining 6 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook 1 1/2 minutes, whisking constantly. Then, while whisking vigorously, slowly pour milk into butter/flour mixture. Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens. Add milk mixture to soup mixture in pot and cook about 5 minutes longer, or until soup is thickened. Stir in heavy cream and lemon zest and serve.

This soup is great as leftovers or you could freeze half of it and save for a later meal. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

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