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, that Roast Chicken provided the base for a pot of Chicken & Rice Soup today. And that soup 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!
About Chicken & Rice Soup:
This is a lovely soup, and I have a few hints, below, on how to make the best Chicken & Rice soup and avoid any pitfalls. Just know that there is already a headstart to a bit of lemon flavor just because of the carcass I used. There isn’t any other lemon flavor other than freshly squeezed lemon as a garnish.
There are def some Meditteranean-leaning flavors in the pot! In addition to the subtle lemon flavor, there’s a bit of oregano along with all the usual suspects for a pot of soup. That’s onion, celery, and carrot. This soup is fab, too, with any of the additional veggies listed. Heck, just toss in a bit of what you have on hand in the fridge. It’s hard to go wrong.
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 (there are suggestions in the recipe)
- Replace the white rice if you’d like, with already cooked brown rice, orzo or fine noodles (both of these can be cooked in the soup; I would suggest adding an extra half a cup of broth).
- 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.
If your chicken isn’t already infused with lemon flavor perk up the soup with a little white or white wine vinegar or simply squeeze half a lemon in while the soup simmers, along with the lemon half itself. Remove the half lemon promptly when the soup is finished or it will become stronger and overwhelming.
Making Chicken & Rice Soup:
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. Starchy rice can ruin the texture and/or overwhelm the flavor of the soup.
- For best results, cook the rice separately, rinsing well before cooking. When finished, give it a very quick rinse in a strainer or colander. If you have leftover soup, the texture is usually perfect to use as is.
- 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.
- If the soup still lacks flavor, doctor it up with a little chicken base, Goya, seasoned salt, or another favorite seasoning.
Shortcut Chicken & Rice Soup:
You don’t have to start your soup full-on from scratch. It’s souper (sorry couldn’t help myself) easy to shortcut with a boxed or canned chicken broth.
Any cooked chicken you have, say leftover or rotisserie can be added in after the soup is nearly done to just heat through. If you need to cook the chicken, simply toss in right after you add the broth and allow it to cook right along with the rest of the soup. To finish, remove the chicken, shred it, and add it back in.
Take the time to slowly simmer up a broth from what’s left of your roasted (or rotisserie) chicken along with any jelled-up juices and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic soup! The difference between the store-bought stock and your own homemade from a carcass is subtle but noticeable.
Storing and Reheating:
If you’re storing a potful of soup, allow it to cool to room temperature and when placing it in the fridge, don’t cover it until it’s cold. Smaller amounts can just be placed in a container, covered, and placed in the fridge. They’ll cool quickly enough while larger amounts may take too long to get to a safe temperature if you’re not careful.
This soup also freezes beautifully. Freeze in appropriate amounts for your needs; thaw overnight in the fridge.
Either way, from the fridge or the freezer, reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Almost any homemade soup made from bones will have a lot of collagen – the broth will be thick when cold and once warmed up will be just fine. If there is rice or pasta, the soup may need to be thinned with broth or water. Do this after the soup is heated.
Saving Money on Chicken & Rice Soup:
- Chicken regularly goes on sale, so make it a habit to know the lowest price and what’s a good buy in your area. Break it down into packages and freeze. Whole chickens will take up more room in your freezer so may not be a great option for those wth limited space, but they often go on sale for rock-bottom pricing, especially after Easter.
- Making your own stock/broth is going to be the most cost-effective option. Notice in the recipe, below, I’ve used the trimmings and peeling from the veggies that are going to go in the soup in the broth. Zero waste!
Chicken & Rice Soup
- Total Time: varies
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
For the Stock/Broth:
- 1 chicken carcass (suggested Sunday Roast Chicken, lemon variation)
- 12 cups water (or enough to cover)
- any leftover jelled juices from the 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
For the Soup itself:
- 10 cups chicken broth (see note)
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 4 to 5 carrots, sliced into bite-sized rounds or half rounds if larger
- 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 of chicken
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste, 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 (about 2 teaspoons)
For the Stock/Broth:
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.
For the Soup itself:
Bring broth, oregano, carrots, celery, and onion 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 two teaspoons of white vinegar or white wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with lemon as a garnish.
Note: Hold back a little broth when first making the soup – then you can control how brothy you want it to be. Save any extra broth for when the soup is reheated; it may thicken up and can be thinned with broth or water,
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Chicken, Freezes Well, leftover Chicken, Leftovers, Lemon, planned leftovers, Rice, Soup, Turkey, Turkey Leftovers, Vinegar