Recipe Swap Sunday: Winter Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

You know those seasonal recipe magazines that flood the check-out lanes? If you’ve ever fallen victim to the impulse, you know they’re usually a hit or miss. You may spend $4-6 to get just a handful of decent recipes. One purchase, however, has been the exception to the rule.

I bought the magazine — Holiday Menus from Cuisine at Home — around 2007 and still reference it regularly. Every recipe in it (that I’ve tried) has been tremendous! Including this one. The magazine featured it as a “Christmas Eve” soup, but we enjoy it all winter long.

As always, I have made a couple changes to the original recipe. Instead of using all wild rice (as the recipe called for) I use a combination of brown and wild rices. I use portabellas instead of button mushrooms and add a little extra bacon. Also, I omit the sour cream (my husband abhors sour cream) and use reduced fat instead of whole milk.

Wild rice takes a long time to cook, so be sure you make the necessary allowances. This soup is great the day after, too! Keep your leftovers. They’re worth it.

Winter Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

  • 3/4 c dry wild rice blend (or 2 c cooked wild rice)
  • 4 strip thick-sliced bacon, diced
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 c onion, diced
  • 1/4 c carrot, diced
  • 1/4 c celery, diced
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 4 c chicken broth
  • 2 c chicken, shredded or diced
  • 2 t fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sliced scallions and toasted almond slivers as garnish

Prepare the rice as directed on the package. If there are no instructions, combine 3/4 c rice with 2 1/2 c water in a small saucepan. Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the grains are tender and start to split open. (This may be done a day ahead. Chill the cooked rice until ready to use.)

Saute bacon in a large pot over medium-high heat until crisp, 8-10 minutes. Scoop out bacon (leaving drippings in the pan) and drain on paper towel-lined dish. Add mushrooms to drippings and saute over medium-high until soft, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add onion, carrot and celery; cover and sweat until the onion is translucent, about 5 more minutes.

Remove lid and increase heat to medium. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly add chicken broth, making sure to scrap up bits from the bottom of the pot, then add chicken, cooked rice and fresh thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes.

Add milk, cream, reserved bacon, salt and pepper to soup. Gently simmer about 1 minute or until heated through. Garnish each serving with scallions and toasted almonds. ENJOY!

Serves 8 as a first course or 4 as a main dish.

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