Chicken, Vegetable and Wild Rice Soup
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I am making this tonight because I’m on a health and fitness roll.
I am having a difficult time taking 10,000 steps a day. I certainly don’t go outside for a walk, not in this cold, rainy weather. Just because I live on a large property in the country doesn’t mean I’m an outdoor girl in the Winter. I can enjoy the beautiful countryside from the warm, dry cocoon of my house just fine, thank you very much.
I am doing 1/2 hour a day on the bike, and my FitBit from Amazon doesn’t count that activity as “steps.” Personally, although I am really enjoying my new smart watch, I am feeling rather cheated. Not fair! I can enter the 30 minutes manually, but that’s not the same thing. At the end of the day when FitBit says “you only have 400 steps to go!” I get argumentative with it, reminding it that I did a half hour on the bike. Hmph. And then I walk some more.
I remembered a darling gal on The Great British Baking Show whose name was Val. She was a fitness freak, and she would spend the entire episode stepping side to side and toe tapping, all while making these incredible bakes. To this day, I do not know how she did it.
It’s not working so well for me, standing here in front of my laptop. But I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, either.
Do yourself a favor and double this soup. When you’re done eating and it has cooled, pour the remaining soup into a large freezer bag. Lay flat on a rimmed baking sheet that has been covered in either parchment paper or a silicone mat (this is so the freezer bag doesn’t freeze to the frozen cookie sheet!) Don’t forget to label it with a sharpie with the name of the soup and the date! When it has frozen solid, you can add it to your “file folder” of frozen soups or meals, standing upright on their sides. I put them in a large plastic container so I can easily access them on nights I don’t want to cook. I will double the recipe on anything that freezes well, so that I can cheat in the kitchen every so often. I keep a list of items in the freezer and try to remember to keep it updated. I usually fail.
Normally, I would soak my white, long grain rice to remove the starches (because I hate sticky rice), then steam it and add it to the soup when cooked. Well, I found out that by adding rinsed, long grain rice to the soup when it’s raw, the rice exudes its starch and you end up with a creamy, thick soup, without having to add cream. Plus, it saves me a step! Vary this recipe to your heart’s content, using whatever you have on hand. But don’t skip the onion and garlic!
Chicken, Vegetable and Wild Rice Soup
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One sweet yellow onion, diced
Chopped red bell pepper
1 Tablespoon minced garlic, to taste
2 bay leaves (mine were all broken up, so I put them in a little bundle of cheesecloth, which is a bouquet garni). Well, I think technically, a bouquet garni has several types of herbs, but whatever
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 to 10 cups of chicken broth or stock (you may need more, depending on how many you’re feeding)
3/4 cup rinsed, raw wild rice
1/4 cup rinsed, raw long grain rice
Frozen or canned corn
Salt and pepper
Chicken breast or tenders or rotisserie, cubed or shredded
Squirt of lemon, optional
Put your large dutch oven or stock pot on medium low heat (4 on a scale of 1 to 9). Add about ¼ c extra virgin olive oil, so that the bottom of the pan is covered. Add your chopped onion and a teaspoon of kosher salt and stir. Add chopped carrots, celery and red bell pepper. Keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.
Add the garlic, bay leaves and thyme and stir for a minute or two.
Now add 6 to 8 cups chicken stock or broth. You can use homemade, boxed, canned or the powdered or paste stuff that comes in a jar. Just don’t buy the stuff that says “chicken flavored.” (ugh)
Now add the rinsed wild rice and rinsed long grain rice. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil and then reduce to a nice simmer. Cover your pot, making sure it’s not boiling under that lid. Check on the soup from time to time, adding more broth if it’s getting too thick. Make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
This needs to simmer for an hour or more because wild rice takes so long to cook. You’ll know it’s done when it’s tender to the bite and you can see the white insides. In case you care (which you probably don’t), wild rice isn’t a rice, at all – it’s a grass.
In a separate smaller pot, bring your chicken to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for a few minutes. (When using chicken tenders, I turn off the heat as soon as it has bubbled, then cover for a few minutes) Rinse off your cooked chicken, then chop or shred. Looking at the photo of my poached chicken, this crud I always have to wash off of it is why I don’t add raw chicken to my soup. That does not look like something I want to eat!
About 5 minutes before serving, add in your frozen corn and peas. Also add the chopped or shredded chicken. If you add it to the pot before that, the chicken may resemble cardboard.
Taste and adjust your salt and pepper. Don’t forget to remove those bay leaves! If you like lemon with thyme, add a squirt at the last minute.
Now pour a glass of wine, set the table, and grab the soup bowls. I always nuke them so they’ll be nice and warm.
If you like this soup and would like to make it again, you can do the following: Cook a couple of cups of wild rice in advance, then drain. Divide up into a few quarts sized freezer bags, label, lay flat and freeze. That way, if you want dinner in a jiffy, you’ll have your cooked wild rice ready to go. You can cook it on low in a slow cooker, too.
Enjoy this guilt-free comfort food!
Happy New Year!