Is there anything better than soup during the cold winter months? I never used to be a big fan of soup, mainly because most pre-made soups that come in cans taste like garbage, and a lot of soups have ingredients of which I’m just not a big fan. I’m a picky eater who likes to attempt to expand her palate when possible, but there are certain ingredients that are just a no-go for me (Mushrooms? Blech. Cooked chunks of tomatoes? Barf. Celery? Don’t even get me started). But when the cold Wisconsin winter winds start a-blowing, soup is what I crave.
The only soup that I used to eat was the Tomato Basil Bisque from Noodles & Co., but it gets a little pricey to buy soup anytime you want a steaming bowl of deliciousness, and I have yet to find a tomato soup recipe that has matched theirs, although not for lack of trying. I have forced us to eat some pretty horrible soups in my quest for a palatable tomato soup. Maybe one day I’ll find one. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
So in the meantime, I decided to try out some other soups along the way. I stumbled upon this creamy chicken & wild rice via Emily Bites (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite food blogs). I love that I can make a soup that can be so filling, while still being able to keep the nutritional value up and the calories low. It’s hands-down one of my favorites. I usually make soup once every couple of weeks and this one is in rotation pretty frequently. It’s thick and creamy while still being pretty healthy, thanks to the fat-free half & half.
Plus I love that it gives me an excuse to whip out my roux whisk! It took me a while to really get the hang of making a roux (butter and flour whisked together, which is utilized as a thickening agent in soups and sauces). They key is to whisk in the flour in small amounts at a time to allow the butter time to absorb it. I used to just dump all the flour in at once, which resulted in a big clumpy mess. I find that it’s also important to use at least some regular butter. I try to use light butter in recipes whenever I can, but it doesn’t absorb the flour as well as regular butter does, so I use half of each in this recipe. The original recipe also called for celery (Disgusting. See above), so I substitute corn, which I love but the hubby’s not crazy about. Too bad for him, since I’m the one doing the cooking :)
This recipe makes a good sized amount of soup, but luckily for me (and you!), the leftovers reheat wonderfully. I’ve never tried freezing this soup, and I don’t know that I ever will, for 2 reasons: A) I’m not sure that the cream would hold up well in the freezer and B) the leftovers never last more than a couple of days in our house.
Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Servings: 8 (1 cup servings)
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1 pound raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
- 1 (6oz) box Long Grain & Wild Rice (I use Uncle Ben’s)- not the quick cooking kind. Do not prepare
- 1 cup carrots, cut into medallions
- 4 tbsp regular butter
- 4 tbsp light butter (I use Smart Balance Light)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 cups fat free half & half
- 1 (8.5oz) can of whole kernel corn, drained
- Salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
- Red pepper flakes, if desired
- Bring 2 cups of the water and all of the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot. Add chicken, rice with seasoning packet, and carrots. Reduce the pot to a simmer and cook for about 25-35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and a meat thermometer reads 165 when stuck into the thickest part of the breast. Remove chicken to a plate to cool, then shred with two forks. Continue to simmer the rest.
- In a medium saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour a spoonful at a time to make a roux. Once flour is completely absorbed, add in the half & half a little at a time, stirring continuously to allow the roux to mix with the cream. Continue whisking and adding the half & half until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Add the chicken, cream mixture, and last 2 cups of water back to the pot. Stir to combine. Stir in corn. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes to allow soup to thicken. (Be careful though, if you allow it to simmer too long, it will get very thick. If that happens, simply add a little more water to thin back out. Also make sure to stir continuously, or the soup will burn to the bottom of the pan because of the cream). Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. I occasionally also add red pepper to give it a little kick.
Inspired by: Emily Bites