Can I use a different rice?
You can use whatever rice you have on hand for this Chicken and Rice soup recipe but expect varying results. For BEST results, stick with wild rice blend – it not only is wonderfully nutty and earthy but extremely difficult to overcook, remains al dente and reheats like a champ. Even leftovers will remain fabulously chewy so the soup tastes even better the next day.
- Brown rice: You can substitute the wild rice with brown rice and cook for about the same amount of time.
- White rice: You can add long grain white rice to the soup after you remove the chicken and add the half and half and cook for about 10-12 minutes (add the cauliflower after the rice has been cooking 6 minutes). White rice is easy to overcook, so make sure you check it for doneness often and cook just until al dente. Alternatively, you can cook white rice separately and add it the soup or individual servings if you expect leftovers.
- Leftover rice: Because you are using leftover rice, you only need to simmer the soup for 5 minutes after you add the half and half. Add any leftover cooked rice with the peas at the very end of cooking and warm through. Alternatively, add the rice to individual servings if you expect leftovers.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Here is a summary of tips and tricks for the Best Chicken and Wild Rice Soup:
- Use chicken thighs. This Chicken and Rice Soup recipe will work with chicken breasts or chicken thighs, but for best flavor use chicken thighs or shredded rotisserie chicken.
- Rotisserie chicken. Stock shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken portioned into 3 cup freezer bags so you always have chicken ready to add to a soup. Add rotisserie chicken to the soup with the cauliflower.
- Don’t skip mirepoix. This Chicken and Rice Soup recipe boasts the classic combination of carrots, onions and celery sautéed in olive oil and butter. They are known as the holy trinity of cooking and provide a richness and depth of flavor that can’t be achieved any other way. Please don’t skip unless you can’t get your hands on these ingredients.
- Customize vegetables. In addition to the mirepoix, you can add whatever veggies you have on hand or mix it up just for fun! Green beans, corn, zucchini, cabbage, spinach, etc. would all be delicious. Just be aware most vegetables only need 10 minutes to cook -see my detailed instructions in the Variations section in the post.
- Vegetable size. Chop carrots and celery at least ½-inch thick because they are going to simmer for a long time. Avoid chopping your vegetables too thin or they can become mushy.
- Cook wild rice al dente. (meaning it has a little bite) to it because it will continue to cook for 5 minutes after you add the cauliflower.
- Consistency. You can make this Chicken and Wild Rice Soup more or less “chunky” or more or less creamy. For a less chunky soup, simply add additional broth or half and half at the end of cooking. For a creamier soup, remove about ¼ cup finished soup and whisk in 1 -2 tablespoon cornstarch with a fork until smooth then whisk it back into the soup. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Repeat if needed.
This Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup is very simple but it does require some prep work as far as trimming the chicken and chopping vegetables. You can save time by:
- Trim chicken: trim off excess fat from chicken then store chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Chop vegetables: chop the vegetables a couple days ahead of time, the night before dinner or just a few hours before cooking then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You will want to store the cauliflower separate from the onions, carrots and celery because it is added later in the recipe.
- Measure Spices: It doesn’t take long to measure out the spices, but you can certainly do it beforehand and store the mix in an airtight bag or container.
Yes! The flavors of this Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup get better the next day so it makes amazing leftovers! Reheat per below instructions.
STORAGE & HOW TO I REHEAT
- Storage: Let Chicken and Rice Soup cool to room temperature, then cover and store in your Dutch oven or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- Stove: reheat large batches on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.
- Microwave: transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lids or paper towel. Microwave for 2 minutes, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.
- Crockpot: Transfer soup to a crockpot and heat on low for 1-3 hours. The time will depend on how much soup you have remaining.
CAN YOU FREEZE CREAMY CHICKEN AND RICE SOUP?
As a general rule of thumb, creamy soups do not freeze well as the texture can become unpleasantly grainy as the dairy and fat separate. You can still freeze the soup with these expectations, or omit the half and half when freezing, then add the half and half to the soup after thawing – then you will have no problem. Alternatively, you can swap the half and half for evaporated milk (see tips below).
- Cook: Cook the Chicken and Wild Rice Soup according to recipe directions.
- Cool: Allow soup to cool completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients and prevent it from entering the “danger zone.”
- Package: Transfer soup to an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag. You can even use sandwich size plastic bags for individual portions. Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn and label
- Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave, crockpot or stove according to aforementioned instructions.
Tips for freezing:
- If you plan on freezing, do not substitute the wild rice blend for any other rice as other rice varieties have a tendency to turn to mush once thawed from frozen.
- Leave out the half and half if you plan to freeze so it will freeze and thaw without becoming grainy. Once thawed, add the half and half mixed with cornstarch to the thawed soup and simmer until thickened.
- Regular (not lowfat) evaporated milk, or heavy cream freeze much better than half and half -the higher the fat content, the better it freezes. If you think you might freeze this Chicken and Rice Soup, then plan on using either of these alternatives.
- If freezing with half and half, reheat the thawed soup very gently over low heat to help incorporate the cream back into the soup.
- If freezing with half and half, add some fresh cream or softened cream cheese to improve the grainy texture.