We all have days that don’t go as planned. Computers crash, kids get sick, or the car doesn’t start, but we still have to eat. An easy recipe is especially welcome during these times. Fittingly, everything needed for this comforting soup can be tossed into a slow cooker for a few hours, allowing you to focus on more pressing tasks.
Thinking the ingredients could easily be prepped in bulk and serve as useful freezer meals, I recently made a double batch and froze one, minus the broth, in a zip-top bag for one month. Once thawed, I cooked the soup as directed. The handy meal was a small gift on a busy day and offers an easy option for those wishing to share a batch of healthy comfort food with a friend or neighbor in need.
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
- 1 level cup wild rice
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced (include any leaves)
- 1/2 a small yellow onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cups chicken broth
- Place all of the ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3-1/2 to 4 hours** or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Check at 3-1/2 hours, and if the chicken is cooked through but the rice needs a little more time, you may remove the chicken to a plate and chop or shred it. Set aside until the rice has finished cooking, and then stir it back into the slow cooker. (Optionally, it won’t hurt to leave the chicken in until the rice is tender and shred it then.) Adjust for seasoning—you may wish to add an extra sprinkle of salt depending on the type of broth used--and serve.
- The soup will thicken as it cools. You may thin any leftovers with additional broth or simply enjoy as is.
- *I like to use chicken thighs in this soup as they offer a little extra richness in what is an otherwise very lean soup. If preferred, you may substitute chicken breasts. Cut larger breasts in half before shredding to avoid long, stringy pieces.
- ** Smaller or older slow cookers may require additional cooking time. Newer, larger models tend to cook much faster and ingredients like rice will become overcooked when left to cook all day. Many newer models switch to a “warm” feature once the set cooking time has been reached. Note that food will continue to cook on this feature, albeit it at a slower rate.
- For the freezer bag option: Place all of the ingredients, except the broth, in a large zip-top freezer bag and place in the freezer. (Hint: Sprinkle the spices over the chicken pieces and then put everything else on top to prevent the spices from sticking to the sides of the bag.) Thaw before cooking, and then transfer the contents to slow cooker, pour the broth overtop, and cook as directed.