This really is one of the best, most flavorful chicken and rice soups we've ever tasted! And with the help of rotisserie chicken (or leftover chicken), it's super easy too!
I don't know many people who don't enjoy a bowl of chicken and rice soup. It's somehow so comforting, kind of like mom and apple pie. Though there's nothing fancy, just the thought of it, makes me feel good! And when it's loaded with lean chicken, healthy veggies and a super flavorful broth, I'm ALL in! So "all in", that I ate two bowls of it for breakfast this morning (well... actually, that was for you, so I could write this post and convey how good it is!).
I think everyone needs a good chicken and rice recipe. While I love a totally-from-scratch soup with a whole chicken (preferably one that you've organically raised yourself) that's been simmered till the meat falls off the bone and the broth is decadently delicious, I generally don't have the time (or inclination) for that. It's funny, I thought as I got older, I'd have time for spending all day in the kitchen, but that's definitely not the case. It seems I'm busier than ever and I'm pretty sure many of you are in the same boat!
How to create a delicious, flavorful broth, not from scratch
That's why I created this easy chicken and rice soup recipe that utilizes and rotisserie (or leftover) chicken along with a few little tricks to ensure a super flavorful broth without making it totally-from-scratch.
The recipe starts out with a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil which combine for a great flavor base. After the butter is melted and bubbly the aromatics are added. Finely chopped onion and shallot along with diced celery are sautéd until soft and tender. (Shallots add a wonderful layer of fine flavor, having a natural richness and a bit of sweetness.) Then comes garlic and a generous scoop of Italian seasoning. Everything is then cooked for another 30 seconds which helps "bloom" the garlic and Italian seasoning.
The rest is super simple. Add the chicken broth (more on that later), carrots, bay leaves, finely minced fresh rosemary, turmeric (mostly for beautiful color), kosher salt and pepper. All this is simmered in an open pot (no cover) which helps concentrate the broth a bit. When the veggies are nice and tender, add the chicken and cooked rice. Sometimes I add a cup of finely chopped fresh spinach at this point to up the nutritional value and include a green veggie, but that's optional. It's delicious either way!
Should you cook the rice in the chicken and rice soup or separately?
You might be wondering why the rice is added at the very end in this chicken and rice soup recipe. I tried it both ways and we prefer the soup with rice that's pre-cooked. Anytime you cook rice in soup, it absorbs a tremendous amount of the broth and you end up with more of a porridge than a brothy soup. It also doesn't keep well and doesn't look very attractive.
I get the rice going first, before prepping for the soup and it's perfectly done and cooled a bit by the time the soup is finished cooking. If you're serving a meal with rice, earlier in the week, you could just make an extra cup and you'd be all set for this soup recipe. One other option is to purchase a packet of pre-cooked rice. Most grocery stores offer this type of convenience item in the section where other varieties of rice is stocked. Trader Joe's packets of frozen rice which are great. Three minutes in the microwave and it's good to go!
A good "to take" recipe!
I love having this Chicken and Rice Soup stashed in the refrigerator for quick meals on busy days. It's light, yet filling and it seems to always be a hit. This soup would also be a wonderful meal to take to a friend in need or a neighbor who's been sick. It's comforting, delicious, easy to warm up and keeps well for several days. Add some crusty dinner rolls or a plate of brioche rolls and you've got a delicious "to take" dinner that will bring a smile to just about anyone.
Now that it's officially fall, it's definitely soup season, so put this delicious recipe on the menu soon! There will be lots of happy campers around the table!
Café Tips for making this Chicken and Rice Soup
- Ten cups of chicken broth sounds like a lot but you need this much to balance out the other ingredients. Even though the rice is cooking before being added to the soup, it will still absorb some of the broth as it sits.
- Use a good quality chicken broth for this soup. I really like the organic low-sodium chicken broth from Trader Joe's. It's got good flavor, nice yellow color and it's relatively inexpensive.
- I also like to keep a jar of Better than Bouillion Chicken Base in my refrigerator. It's a wonderful option when I'm in a pinch and have run out of cans or cartons of chicken broth. It's got good flavor and is economically a great option. I prefer the regular version on this vs. the low sodium so you do have to adjust the salt when you use it.
- Don’t be afraid to season this soup. There's a lot of broth (low sodium) and rice and you need plenty of salt to bring out the flavor. I like to start with 1 teaspoon (as you never know how low sodium a low-sodium chicken broth will be) but I almost always add more at the end when I take a test taste.
- This chicken and rice soup recipe calls for a teaspoon of turmeric. Turmeric is a seasoning widely available in the spice section of most grocery stores. It's used in curry powder and it also gives mustard its yellow color. It doesn't really add flavor to this soup but does give it a lovely color. Turmeric is also super healthy, it's known as a powerful nutrient that has long been used in China and India as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions.
- The spinach in this recipe is optional. It's finely chopped so you don't really notice it as far as flavor goes. It does add a pretty look and some extra nutrition.
- Want to make your work in the kitchen easier? If you've followed The Café for any length of time, you know that I love my Vidalia Chop Wizard and use it all the time. It's a little kitchen workhorse and saves me a lot of time. I used it in this recipe for the shallots and onion. There are fancier versions, but I really like this basic original model. It's compact, easy to store and has a measuring cup built-in.
- What kind of rice to use? I really like jasmine rice but any long-grain rice will work for this recipe.
- To cook jasmine rice, I use one part rice to two parts water. So for this recipe which calls for 1 cup of uncooked rice, I use 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, lower the heat a little to a steady simmer and let it cook until most of the water is cooked off and craters are forming on top of the rice. I then cover it, turn off the heat and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. It's then ready to fluff with a fork and serve or cool and use later.
P.S. If you prefer pasta to rice, this Homemade Chicken Pasta Soup is also delicious!
Thought for the day:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- For the rice:
- 1 cup uncooked jasmine (or other long-grain) rice
- For the soup:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 medium shallots finely chopped
- 4 medium stalks celery quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 3 medium cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 10 cups low sodium chicken broth more if needed
- 12 ounces carrots thinly sliced (halved lengthwise if large)
- 2 medium-size bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper more, to taste
- For finishing:
- 2 cups diced rotisserie or leftover chicken
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1-2 cups tightly packed fresh spinach finely chopped (optional)
For the rice:
Cook jasmine rice according to package instructions (or according to the method above in Café Tips) and set aside to cool.
For the soup:
Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot until the butter is melted and bubbly. Add the chopped onion, shallots and celery and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until veggies are softened. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Add the chicken broth, carrots, bay leaves, turmeric, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a steady simmer and cook for 20 minutes, uncovered. Try one of the carrot slices. If it’s not nice and tender cook for another 3-5 minutes or until tender (the size of your carrot slices will determine how low it takes to cook).
Remove the bay leaves then add the rotisserie chicken, rosemary, cooked rice and finely chopped spinach (if using). Cover and allow the soup to sit for 10 minutes for the flavors to meld. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper, if needed. If soup is too thick, add more chicken broth. Serve and enjoy!
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.