Classic Chicken Rice Soup

By Ann Fulton

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As a long-lasting stomach virus worked its way through my family early last month, this soup (along with toast and ginger ale) was the only food some of us wanted to eat for days on end. In the last couple of weeks, I prepared this recipe two more times for friends who were fighting the flu or recovering from an equally miserable ailment.

In recent weeks, countless news reports have described how this year’s vaccine isn’t well matched to the strains that are circulating and have included words like “epidemic.” And the season is just beginning. (Keep washing those hands!)

As I prepared to make yet another batch of this nourishing comfort food, I figured it was worth passing along. Of note, this happens to be my husband’s number one favorite soup, sick or healthy. So as I share it in the context of how healing good old chicken soup can be, the recipe need not be stashed away solely for when family and friends are ailing. It’s a simple but satisfying meal any time of year, and leftovers make a welcome lunch.

Over the years, I have made this soup countless different ways, and I find that cooking the rice separately allows for better control. Nothing becomes over- or undercooked, and the ratio of broth to solids is just right.


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Chicken Rice Soup
This recipe makes a generous amount of soup and is perfect for sharing, enjoying left over or freezing.  If desired, however, the recipe can easily be cut in half. For those who enjoy garlic, feel free to stir in two or three minced cloves about a minute before adding the broth. Occasionally, I add 3/4 teaspoons of smoked paprika and sauté along with the celery mixture for a minute before adding the broth.

Yields 4 quarts.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, sliced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2-1/2 quarts (10 cups) low-sodium chicken broth (may use 2 quarts stock plus 2 cups water; in this case, you may wish to add a little extra salt)
  • 3 cups cooked rice (from one cup uncooked; see notes*)
  • 4 cups skinned, boned, and chopped rotisserie chicken (about 1 regular rotisserie chicken or 1 to 1-1/4 pounds cooked chicken meat)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, and sauté for 2 minutes or until starting to soften.  Add the celery and carrots, and continue cooking for approximately 5 minutes, or until the carrots are just beginning to soften, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the chicken broth, increase the heat, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until carrots are just tender.
  3. Stir in the rice, chicken, and parsley. Cook for a few more minutes or until heated through. Season the soup with salt and pepper, to taste.  (When using store-bought broth, I typically do not add salt. When using homemade stock, I add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.)
  • I typically use a wild rice blend, but long grain brown or white rice are equally excellent options. Cooking the rice separately (according to specific package directions) and allowing it to rest in the pot, covered, for 10 minutes after removing from the burner helps to reduce the amount of liquid the rice absorbs later.  As a result, I do not find the need to thin leftovers of this soup with additional broth.
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  1. Carol Graham

    I have an old recipe from either the NYT or Gourmet magazine that specifies short-grain Sushi Rice. It holds up very well even after freezing.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thank you for the helpful mention, Carol. Sushi rice is a great suggestion. For variety, I sometimes use wild rice and recently used turkey instead of chicken. The possibilities…

  2. Carolyn S

    This is a delicious soup. Used long grain white rice, prepared as directed, and a little sweet paprika sautéed about a minute with vegetables before adding broth. Very straightforward, yet tasty. Thanks Ann!

  3. Becky

    I just made this soup after a nasty stomach virus sidelined each member of our family for several days. It’s delicious and is one of the few things that any of us wants to eat right now! Thanks for the great (and easy) recipe!

    1. Ann Post author

      I am so sorry you were sick but am so glad this tasted good as you were rebounding. Thanks for letting me know and take care–stomach bugs are miserable!

  4. Judy Nichols

    The Chicken rice soup was a winner just like your other soups. As soon as I saw the photo in this past Sunday’s paper with the recipe, I went to get the ingredients. It was easy to prepare and tastes delicious! The note about letting the rice sit so it didn’t absorb the broth was news to me and you are right-it works!