October 20, 2013

This Week in Food…Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

It is the soup time of year, folks, and this creamy chicken and rice soup is a delicious crowd-pleaser. As the temps start to dip and the days get shorter I find myself drawn to soups and stews. This time of year I typically make homemade soup once a week. We get a delicious dinner one night and leftovers for lunches (dinners too, if my husband is traveling) throughout the week. And soup is one of my favorite dishes. Give me a loaf of crusty bread and a delicious soup and I'm in heaven.

I like a wide variety of soups, but it's nice to find one that pleases everybody. And I think this one did. I mean, who doesn't love chicken and rice soup? And this version is warm and hearty with just a hint of sweetness from the evaporated milk. And, depending on how thick you like your soup, you can easily make this a thick and creamy chowder consistency!

One thing you must know about me and soup-making though…

I tend to use "generous" measurements when cooking them. If a recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of rice (ahem, see below) I tend to think things like, "Boy, that doesn't seem like enough to make this hearty, maybe I should throw in an extra 1/4 cup…and then maybe another 1/4 cup." Who me? No, I didn't do that.

It would appear that I subscribe to the "if 2 is good, 3 must be better" philosophy of soup-making (and chocolate eating). The good news is: I'm not baking. So it really doesn't matter. The bad news is, you can't entirely trust my recipes. If it says use 2-3 carrots, you can bet I used 3 (big ones). If it calls for 1 cup of diced, cooked chicken…well, you can assume I used more than that! Let's just say this: The recipe for this soup called for 5 cups of chicken stock. I used 8 cups. And it was STILL crazy-thick. But it was oh-so-good.

And remember this when you're looking at a soup recipe: most ingredients are negotiable. If you want to use shredded rotisserie chicken instead of diced chicken, have at it. If you don't have frozen corn but you do have frozen peas, change it up. If you want to use brown rice instead of white, more power to you. If you believe broccoli was meant for this soup, by all means. Get creative and tailor the soup to your needs and tastes and what you have on hand. Just don't omit too many things that provide your flavor base, like the garlic, onions, bouillon, etc. or you could end up with a bland disappointment.

Now, on to the delicious, crowd-pleasing recipe...

photo from fortheloveofcooking.net

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup (adapted from fortheloveofcooking.net)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
2-3 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 cups chicken stock (I ended up using 8 cups so have more on hand to adjust consistency as you go)
1 tsp chicken bouillon (I think that's about 1/2 a cube, if you use the cubes)
1/2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced (While I started the soup, I cooked up two chicken breasts in a pan on the stove, seasoning them with salt, pepper and a poultry herb mix, then diced them. You could also use already cooked, diced chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken.)
1/2 cup long grain white rice
1/2 cup frozen, sweet yellow corn, thawed
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk (I used 2%)

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5-8 mins. Add the minced garlic and stir about 1 min. Add the chicken stock, diced chicken, rice, bouillon, basil, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15-20 mins. If not boiling already, bring soup to a boil. Mix the corn starch and evaporated milk thoroughly in a bowl, then add the milk mixture to the boiling soup and stir. Lower the heat and add the corn. Mix thoroughly and simmer a few more minutes. The soup will thicken as it sits. Add more stock as needed to achieve desired consistency. Enjoy.

Seriously folks, I thought this was delicious. I served it with a loaf of bakery bread and that's it, and it filled up four adults and two small children with a little left over…so I'd say it serves six.

Until next time, happy cooking!




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