Last month marked the first anniversary of us moving to Manchester, Vermont. When I look back and think about our time here, one of the highlights of our time has been the local library. Though it is a small one, it offers many activities and bonding opportunities to its community. One of those activities that I look forward to every month is the Cookbook Club Gathering.
Made up of 25-30 ladies (and a few gents), every month we cover a different subject mostly around the topic of seasonal cooking. Last month’s subject was about how to put dinners on the table fast in these cold winter days. Each member shared their tips and tricks on easy weeknight dinners. I did go there with a list of my own as well, but surprisingly the most popular tip, supermarket-bought rotisserie chicken, was not my list.
Come to find out, one of the supermarkets in town has the best rotisserie chicken. That day, right after our meeting, I went there to purchase one to try it for dinner. Since then, I am hooked.
Today’s recipe, Lightened-Up Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup is made with rotisserie chicken and pre-cooked wild rice. If you don’t mind a little bit of an advance prep (aka pre-cooking wild rice and a quick trip to the store to get rotisserie chicken), you can put this dish on the table on a Tuesday night. Additionally, I have changed the original recipe made with heavy cream to make it lighter and potentially healthier.
How To Make Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Lighter:
As I mentioned earlier, the classic version of this soup is made with heavy cream mixed in with a cup of all-purpose flour and some of the soup’s liquid. If you have ever been to Panera Bread and ordered their Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, you know how it tastes; thick meaty broth with chunks of chicken mixed in with earthy and nutty wild rice.
In my version, instead of heavy cream, I used whole milk and whisked it with only ½ cup all-purpose flour. At first, I was a little worried that it wouldn’t thicken up as Panera Bread’s version, but that was not a problem because letting it simmer for a little bit longer fixed that issue. In other words, it thickened as it simmered. So using whole milk instead of heavy cream ended up being a great way to make it lighter.
How To Serve This Soup on A Tuesday Night:
To make it a weeknight dish, I bought a whole rotisserie chicken into small cubes and used some already cooked wild rice. You may have already seen, but last week I shared a whole post about How to Cook Wild Rice. I usually make a big batch of it and store it in the fridge (and some in the freezer) to add in salads and soups like this one.
Alternatively, you can also cook the wild rice in a pressure cooker, especially if you don’t have time to soak the rice. It takes around 45 minutes from start to finish.
Once you have the chicken and wild rice ready, this soup comes together in 30-45 minutes. And the best part is that you end up with a big pot healthy soup that you can serve your family on a weeknight.
If you have no time restrictions and want to make this soup from raw chicken and uncooked wild rice, you can add cubed raw thighs (and/or breasts) to the stock right after you poured it into the pot. You can cook the wild rice in the same pot, but I recommend cooking it in another one as it takes longer to cook. Once your wild rice is ready, just add it to the soup at the last minute.
Can I freeze Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup?
This is a great dish to freeze. I usually make a big batch, let it come to room temperature, place small portions in airtight containers (or even freezer bags), and freeze up to 6 months. A day before I am ready to serve it, I let it thaw in the fridge overnight and warm it up right before serving.
Lightened-Up Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 carrots peeled and cut into small pieces
- 3 stalks of celery cut into small pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 5 cups of store-bought low sodium or homemade chicken stock
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups cooked chicken cut into small chunks (I used 1 small rotisserie chicken)
- 2 cups cooked wild rice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley more as garnish
- Heat olive oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Add in the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring regularly, until softened, 8-10 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add in the thyme, salt and pepper.
- Pour in the chicken stock and water. Put the lid on and bring it to a boil.
- Place the flour into a medium bowl. Ladle a cup of hot liquid from the pot into the bowl. Add the milk into the bowl. Give it a whisk until no lumps left. Pour the mixture into the pot.
- Add in the chicken and wild rice. Bring the soup to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Give it a stir every 5 minutes or so. It should thicken as it cooks. If you want it to be thicker let it simmer until it is as thick as you want.
- Stir in the lemon juice and fresh parsley.
- Ladle into bowls, garnish with more parsley, and serve immediately.