We had quite an Easter this year, but I kept it simple. The main course was my Sunday Roast Chicken, the lemony variation. It was a subtle prelude to the Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert, but best of all, provided the base for a pot of Chicken & Rice Soup today. It almost makes this dull, grey, Spring day feel sunny.
Tell me, though, is it wrong to be so excited about a picked over, devoured chicken that’s left behind not much more than a carcass? I guess you’ll have to try this soup to judge!
This soup is easy to short cut with store chicken broth, a little chicken, a few herbs, but take the time to slowly simmer up a broth from the what’s left of your home-made chicken along with any jelled up juices and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic soup! Best of all, you can make up a pot of broth and use what you need in this soup and freeze the rest for later.
You’ll notice the recipe for this chicken broth is just a bit different from the one I usually make, Best Chicken or Turkey Broth, primarily because I’ve made this from my particularly flavorful Sunday Roast Chicken. The chicken and juices are already full of flavor so I just add a few elements from Best Chicken or Turkey Broth as I simmer this up.
There are two issues with Chicken & Rice soup in general, and it can be really disappointing to cook up a pot and have it go wrong. The starchy rice can ruin the texture and/or overwhelm the flavor of soup.
- I like to cook up my rice separately, rinsing well, first, then I give it a rinse in a strainer or colander after it’s cooked. Even if you have left over soup, the texture is perfect.
- All that rice, very neutral in flavor, can make a dull soup, even when care is taken with the broth. Taste it, add your acid (lemon or vinegar) and season, and if it is still isn’t right, consider doctoring it up with a little base, Goyza or other seasoning.
This is a great standard recipe base for a classic Chicken & Rice soup, but there’s plenty of room to play with flavors. Vary the vegetables, suggestions in the recipe, and if you’d like, use brown rice, orzo or fine noodles instead of the regular rice.
If your chicken isn’t already infused with lemon flavor, like mine, perk up the soup with a little white or white wine vinegar. If you’d like to lean into another flavor, more of a Southwestern soup, try a little lime instead of the lemon and perhaps a 1/4 teaspoon or so of cumin, and use a little (about 1/2 the amount) of cilantro instead of parsley.
Chicken & Rice Soup
- 8 cups chicken broth *
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 4 to 5 carrots, sliced into bite sized rounds or half rounds
- 4 stalks celery, sliced thinly into bite sized pieces
- 1 onion, finely diced
- Additional vegetables, your choice: 1/2 red bell pepper, diced, 1 medium-sized parsnip or turnip, diced, a small handful of diced or sliced mushrooms, 1/2 cup of frozen peas or corn
- 3 cups of cooked rice that has been well rinsed before cooking and rinsed after (one cup uncooked)
- reserved chicken pieces from broth or about 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste, it’s likely you’ll need a good amount of both
- Lemon, cut into 1/4’s then in half, to garnish & squeeze into soup or a white or white wine vinegar
Bring broth, oregano, carrots, celery and onions to a boil and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
If using red bell pepper, parsnip or turnip, add along with the broth.
If using peas or corn, add after the other vegetables are tender and just heat through. Add reserved chicken, cooked rice, parsley, salt and pepper. Squeeze in a tablespoon of lemon or add a tablespoon or so of a white vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with lemon as a garnish.
* If using a store-bought stock or broth, you may wish to simmer with a little garlic (one or two cloves) along with the vegetables when the soup is started. Simply cook a little chicken up in the broth, remove and shred.
- 1 chicken carcass (I used left over Sunday Roast Chicken, lemon variation)
- 16 cups water (to cover)
- any left over jelled juices from chicken
- Peelings and end pieces of carrot & celery, outside and stems from onion that will be used to make the soup later (prep them ahead)
- 8 whole peppercorns
Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and simmer for about 40 minutes to an hour, until any remaining chicken on the carcass is softened and may be easily removed.
Remove chicken from carcass, shred, cover and refrigerate until the soup is ready to be made. Return the carcass to the pot to continue to simmer gently two to three hours until broth reaches desired flavor.
Strain broth and defat. If desired, strain and place in the refrigerator until fat has risen to the surface and may be easily removed.
Dirty Little Secret:
I try to eat “clean” as much as possible, cook for the most part from scratch, but every now and then despite my best efforts, something falls flat. My soup, above, was great, but Chicken & Rice, in particular, can easily go awry with all that rice.
Here’s a little secret that no chef, no restaurant, and most home cooks will ever tell you. If worse comes to worse and your broth falls flat: Doctor!
If you came to this recipe looking for a way to use leftover turkey (and turkey works just as well as chicken), be sure to check out the link below for 12 Days of Turkey for more ideas. You might want to see the sister post for 12 Days of Ham, too.