Hearty chicken wild rice soup is the perfect comfort food for cold winter nights!
This delicious soup is packed full of flavor and nutrients, making it a great choice for a healthy and satisfying meal.
With tender chicken, wild rice, and a variety of vegetables, this soup is sure to warm you up from the inside out.
Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner or a cozy meal for a lazy weekend, hearty chicken wild rice soup is the perfect choice.
In this blog post, I’ll provide you with a simple and tasty recipe to try at home. So, gather your ingredients, stoke the stove, and let’s dive into the heartwarming world of hearty chicken wild rice soup—a true classic that never fails to satisfy the craving for comfort!
Ingredients for Hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Gather these simple ingredients to make this delicious soup recipe!
The Essential Components
Begin with a pound of chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces. This forms the heart of our soup, offering protein-rich goodness and a savory taste. You’ll cook the chicken in a little olive oil.
Six cups of nourishing chicken broth provide the foundational essence, infusing the soup with depth and comforting warmth.
One cup of wild rice, a characteristically chewy and earthy grain, adds texture and a rustic touch to our soup. I like to use a blend of wild rice like the one below from Walmart! It has such a delicious, nutty flavor and is so filling!
Types of Wild Rice
There are different varieties of wild rice, and they can vary in appearance, taste, and texture. Here are some common varieties:
Northern Wild Rice (Zizania palustris):
This is the most commonly harvested type of wild rice. It’s grown in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. Northern wild rice is known for its nutty flavor and chewy texture.
Manoomin Wild Rice (Zizania aquatica):
Also known as “wild rice” in Native American culture, Manoomin is cultivated in the lakes and rivers of the upper Midwest and is slightly different from the Northern variety. It has a milder taste and tends to be longer and slightly thinner.
Texas Wild Rice (Zizania texana):
This type of wild rice is endemic to a limited area in the San Marcos River in Texas. It’s an endangered species and primarily grows in flowing water. Texas wild rice has smaller grains compared to Northern wild rice.
Canadian Wild Rice:
Grown in some regions of Canada, this type of wild rice has similar characteristics to Northern wild rice in terms of taste and texture.
Each variety of wild rice might have subtle differences in flavor, appearance, and cooking times. Some might be darker or lighter, longer or shorter, and have variations in taste. However, they can generally be used interchangeably in recipes that call for wild rice, but keep in mind that slight differences may affect the overall outcome or texture of the dish.
The Supporting Cast
Carrots, Celery, Onion:
Two each of diced carrots and celery, along with finely chopped onion, create a medley of flavors and essential vegetable goodness.
Elevate the taste with two tablespoons of dried parsley, lending a hint of freshness, and one teaspoon each of curry powder and dried mustard for a subtle but impactful zing.
Incorporate a pound of sliced mushrooms, adding an earthy depth to the soup that beautifully complements the other ingredients.
Enhance texture with half a cup of slivered almonds, offering a delightful crunch in every spoonful.
Introduce one cup of half and half, adding creaminess and richness to tie all the flavors together.
Salt and pepper to taste, ensuring a balanced flavor profile that suits your preferences.
Unsalted Butter & All-Purpose Flour:
Half a cup of each to create a roux, serving as the thickening agent that brings the soup together into a velvety, cohesive delight.
Making the Hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Let’s start by preparing the star of our soup — the chicken. In a large soup pot over medium heat, add a drizzle of oil and sauté the diced chicken until it’s cooked through and has a lovely golden hue. Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside.
Sauté the Vegetables
Next, in the same pot, melt the butter over low heat.
Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Let them dance in the flavors that the chicken left behind, allowing the onions to turn translucent and the veggies to soften. It’s a symphony of scents that signals the beginning of something truly delicious! Let them cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the sliced mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add Some Spice!
Now, sprinkle in the dried parsley, curry powder, and dried mustard. Stir gently, letting the aromas mingle and infuse into the veggies, creating a harmonious blend of spices.
Sprinkle in the flour, whisking constantly to create a roux. Let it cook for a minute or two, allowing the flour to toast slightly, enhancing its nutty flavor.
Transfer the veggie roux to a large cooking pot.
Time to introduce the wild rice to the mix! Add it to the pot along with the chicken broth. Bring everything to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer away, allowing the rice to absorb the flavors and soften, transforming the broth into a rich, hearty base.
The rice will need to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour on low heat to fully soften.
Finish it Off
Gradually, pour in the half and half, whisking continuously until the mixture thickens into a velvety, creamy concoction. This will be the soulful addition that gives our soup its luxurious texture.
In the pot of simmering goodness add the cooked chicken and slivered almonds.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, allowing the flavors to harmonize.
I like to let my soup simmer on very low heat for 1-2 hours to allow all the flavors to fully come together.
Substitutions You Could Make in the Hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup Recipe
There are various substitutions or modifications you can make in the recipe based on dietary preferences or ingredient availability. Here are some alternatives:
Instead of chicken breast, you can use diced turkey, cooked shredded rotisserie chicken, or tofu for a vegetarian version.
Grains and Rice:
If wild rice is unavailable, you can use a wild rice blend, brown rice, quinoa, or barley.
Feel free to add or substitute vegetables like peas, corn, spinach, or bell peppers. You can also adjust the quantities of carrots, celery, and mushrooms based on preference.
Substitute half and half with coconut milk, almond milk, or a dairy-free creamer for a lactose-free or vegan option.
Herbs and Spices:
Customize the seasoning by adding thyme, rosemary, or bay leaves for additional flavor. Adjust the spice level by altering the amount of curry powder or adding paprika for a milder taste.
If slivered almonds are not available, try using chopped cashews, walnuts, or omit them altogether if there are nut allergies.
Instead of flour, you can use cornstarch or arrowroot powder as a thickening agent. Mix it with a small amount of cold water before adding it to the soup to prevent clumping.
If you prefer a different flavor profile, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth for a vegetarian version.
Oil or Butter:
You can use other oils like vegetable oil, avocado oil, or ghee instead of butter or olive oil for sautéing.
Remember, these substitutions can alter the taste and texture of the soup, so adjust quantities and flavors according to your preference. Feel free to experiment and tailor the recipe to suit your dietary needs or ingredient availability.
How to Store Leftover Hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup
To properly store leftover chicken wild rice soup, follow these steps:
Cooling the Soup:
Allow the soup to cool down to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. It’s important to prevent bacterial growth, so don’t leave it at room temperature for more than two hours.
Place the cooled soup in an airtight container or divide it into smaller portions if desired. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
If you want to store the soup for a longer period, freezing is a good option. Ladle the soup into freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Ensure there’s some room for expansion when using bags. Label the containers or bags with the date for easy reference. The soup can typically be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
Thawing and Reheating:
When you’re ready to enjoy the soup, thaw frozen portions in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, warm it gently on the stovetop over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.
Before consuming, ensure the soup smells and looks fresh. Discard any soup that has an off odor, strange color, or appears spoiled.
Note on Dairy:
If your soup contains dairy like half and half, the texture may change slightly after being frozen and reheated. Stirring it well during reheating can help reincorporate any separated liquids.
Remember, always use clean utensils and containers to handle the soup to prevent contamination. Proper storage and handling help maintain the soup’s quality and ensure it’s safe to eat when reheated.
How to Freeze Leftover Hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup
You can absolutely freeze leftover chicken wild rice soup. Freezing soup is a great way to preserve it for future meals. Here are the steps to freeze the soup properly:
Cool the Soup:
Allow the soup to cool down to room temperature. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pot in an ice bath or transferring it to shallow containers.
Decide on the portion sizes you’d like to freeze. You can use freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Make sure to leave some space at the top of the container or bag to allow for expansion as the soup freezes.
Label and Seal:
Label the containers or bags with the date of preparation to keep track of freshness. Seal them tightly to prevent freezer burn and maintain the quality of the soup.
Place the containers or bags of soup in the freezer. Try to lay the bags flat if using them, as this allows for easier stacking and saves space.
Thawing and Reheating:
When you’re ready to use the frozen soup, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, you can reheat it on the stovetop over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally until thoroughly heated. Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave.
Before consuming, ensure the soup looks and smells fresh. If the soup has an off odor or appears spoiled, discard it.
By following these steps, you can safely freeze chicken wild rice soup and enjoy it later as a convenient meal option.
Best Way to Reheat Leftover Hearty Wild Rice Soup
The best way to reheat leftover wild rice soup while preserving its flavor and texture is to use gentle heat. Here are a few recommended methods:
Pour the desired amount of soup into a saucepan or pot. Heat it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating. This method allows for better control over the temperature and helps prevent scorching or overheating.
Place the soup in a microwave-safe bowl or container. Heat it in the microwave using short intervals (30-second to 1-minute increments) on medium power, stirring between intervals. Stirring helps distribute the heat evenly. Be cautious not to overheat, as it may cause the soup to boil or the ingredients to become too hot.
Double Boiler Method:
For a more gradual and gentle reheating process, use a double boiler. Place the soup in the top pot of the double boiler and heat over simmering water, stirring occasionally until it reaches the desired temperature. This method prevents direct contact with heat, reducing the risk of burning or sticking.
Reheating in the Oven:
Preheat the oven to a low temperature (around 300°F or 150°C). Transfer the soup to an oven-safe dish, cover it with foil to prevent moisture loss, and place it in the oven. Heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally.
Regardless of the method chosen, ensure that the soup is heated thoroughly to a safe internal temperature. Stirring intermittently during reheating helps distribute the heat and maintain the consistency of the soup. Avoid prolonged or high-heat reheating to prevent overcooking or drying out the soup.
What Pairs Well with Hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Hearty chicken wild rice soup pairs well with various side dishes that complement its flavors and textures. It would be lovely served with my Charcuterie Board!
Here are some other ideas:
Serve the soup with crusty bread, such as a baguette, dinner rolls, or garlic bread. The bread can be used for dipping or soaking up the delicious broth.
A fresh, crisp salad can balance the richness of the soup. Consider a simple green salad with vinaigrette dressing, a Caesar salad, or a tangy coleslaw.
Crackers or Breadsticks:
Add some crunch by serving the soup with a side of crackers or breadsticks. They can be plain, whole-grain, or flavored varieties.
Roasted or steamed vegetables like broccoli, green beans, or a medley of roasted root vegetables can complement the soup and add nutritional balance to the meal. Or try my Parmesan Garlic Baked Asparagus with this soup meal!
Serve the soup alongside cooked grains like quinoa, couscous, or a hearty whole grain bread to make the meal more filling.
Fresh fruit such as sliced apples, pears, or a fruit salad can provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the soup.
Herbed Butter or Spread:
Offer flavored butter or spreads for the bread, such as garlic herb butter or sundried tomato spread, to add extra flavor.
Remember, the best side dishes to accompany chicken wild rice soup depend on personal preferences and dietary considerations. Choose options that complement the soup’s flavors while adding variety to the meal.
So, gather around the table, share this soul-warming creation with loved ones, and let the rich flavors of this delightful soup fill your hearts and bellies with contentment.
Warmth, comfort, and a symphony of flavors await in every spoonful of this hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup.
Hearty Chicken Wild Rice Soup
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- 1 pound chicken breast diced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1 pound mushrooms sliced
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 1 cup half and half
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- In a large pot over medium heat, add a drizzle of oil and sauté the diced chicken until it’s cooked through and has a lovely golden hue. Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside.
- In the same pot, melt the butter over low heat.
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Then add the sliced mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle in the dried parsley, curry powder, and dried mustard. Stir gently.
- Sprinkle in the flour, whisking constantly to create a roux. Let it cook for a minute or two.
- Add it to the pot along with the chicken broth. Bring everything to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer away, allowing the rice to absorb the flavors and soften. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour on low heat to fully soften.
- Gradually, pour in the half and half, whisking continuously until the mixture thickens into a velvety, creamy concoction.
- Add the cooked chicken and slivered almonds.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, allowing the flavors to harmonize.
- Let my soup simmer on very low heat for 1-2 hours to allow all the flavors to fully come together.