When I was a child, my grandmother took a road trip to Minnesota and brought back large tins of wild rice as gifts for our entire family. I can still recall how smitten I was by the slightly nutty flavor. It added a wonderful new element to my mom’s version of the chicken and cream-of-something casseroles that were so popular in the 1980s. While those canned soup casseroles have long gone out of style, the yummy, nutty-meets-creamy flavors live on in my Roasted Chicken, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup.
I love making this soup for my own kids. Its such a warm, nutritious meal and one that they gobble up with gusto. In addition to the chicken and mushrooms, this soup is studded with carrots and celery. Sometimes, I’ll even throw in a few handfuls of broccoli or cauliflower and the kids gobble it right up. Instead of using plain wild rice (which would be absolutely fine), I use a wild and brown rice blend which provides added texture and an extra boost of whole grains.
Wild rice requires a pretty lengthy simmering time so its best to start this recipe at least an hour before dinnertime. Alternately, you can toss all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and still get pretty great results (just hold off on adding the half & half and cornstarch until the last 30 minutes).
I like to start by roasting a few budget-friendly chicken thighs in the oven (although chicken breasts will also work or even meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken). While they cool I prep my veggies and get them into the pot to sautéed with some olive oil. For added flavor, I like to add in some of the juice from the chicken roasting pan. Next I add some fresh thyme and chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
Add your uncooked rice blend and let the mixture simmer for 45 min to an hour. Once the rice has softened, add your cooked, chopped chicken and any extra veggies you care to add (like a cup of chopped broccoli or peas). Finally, add a mixture of half and half and cornstarch and allow the mixture to simmer and thicken for 10 minutes. I always finish my soups with 1 Tablespoon of butter, which adds delicious richness (mont au beurre, as the French say). We love enjoying this with a loaf of hearty French bread and a green salad, if I’m feeling ambitious.
Clearly, this is one of our favorite wintertime family meals and I love when the four of us can sit down to steaming bowls at the table. I must admit though, on the nights when Jon doesn’t make it home before the kid’s bedtime, this soup is one of my favorites to slurp from a big mug while sitting on the couch in my jammies with a glass of pinot noir in front of a warm fire (or House Hunters).
However you eat it, its sure to warm you up.
Roasted Chicken, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
Makes 2 Quarts
4 boneless chicken thighs (or 2 chicken breasts, or you can use meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice or a wild/brown rice blend
1/2 cup half & half
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 f and arrange chicken thighs on a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Place pan in preheated oven and roast until chicken skin is golden, about 30 minutes. Allow chicken to rest until cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms and sautée, stirring occasionally until veggies are soft and just started to brown. If desired pour in some of the juices collected in the chicken roasting pan for added flavor. Add thyme and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add chicken broth to pan and bring to a boil. When mixture is at a boil, add wild rice blend and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes, until rice is just slightly soft.
- While rice simmers, remove skin from chicken thighs and dice into bite-size pieces. Add chicken (and any green veggies such as broccoli or peas) to the soup mixture once the rice has cooked.
- In a small bowl, combine half & half and cornstarch to make a slurry. Make sure the mixture is free of lumps before adding into the soup. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for 10 minutes more. Season generously with salt and pepper. For added richness, stir in 1 Tablespoon of butter and allow it to melt into the soup just before serving.