Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Lightly creamy, loaded with chicken, nutty wild rice, and vegetables, this Chicken Wild Rice Soup is hearty, flavorful, and sure to become a family favorite. Swap the chicken for turkey and this is a great dish to make with Thanksgiving leftovers!
A Cozy and Creamy Soup
I started making creamy chicken wild rice soup shortly after Blake and I were married, when I learned just how much he adores a bowl of soup. At restaurants, we often found ourselves ordering this particular soup whenever we’d see it on a menu. We’d compare each bowl, scrutinizing the flavors, level of creaminess, and kinds and quantities of vegetables. Of course, I was taking notes.
I tweaked the recipe for many years, until we both deemed it “perfect”. This was “our” chicken wild rice soup recipe!
This savory chicken and rice soup has a lightly creamy base that’s not too heavy. It’s loaded with tender chicken, vegetables, and earthy, nutty wild rice. A sprinkling of fresh herbs bring all the flavors together in the most beautiful way. This is the perfect recipe for using up leftover chicken breast or rotisserie chicken, and is awesome with turkey from Thanksgiving leftovers. We hope you like it as much as we do!
What is Wild Rice?
Minnesota is known for its wild rice, which is actually an aquatic grass native to North America and unrelated to common rice. Wild rice is the official state grain of Minnesota, and where you’ll still find it harvested naturally in shallow lakes and rivers in the northern part of the state. And by naturally, I mean hand harvested from canoes and then dried over fire.
When cooked, the hard outer shell of wild rice splits open and curls to reveal its lighter interior. I love not only its tender, chewy texture, but also the smoky, earthy, wonderfully nutty flavor.
And nutritionally speaking, wild rice is a dynamo. It’s high in protein and dietary fiber, low in fat, plus gluten-free!
What You’ll Need
Wild rice, chicken (or turkey), and vegetables are the stars of this soup. Here’s everything you’ll need!
- Wild rice – Use whole grain (not cracked) wild rice for this recipe. ALL of the grains should be long and thin and very dark in color (see the second photograph in this post), such as this one from Minnesota (affiliate link). For a truly traditional Minnesota wild rice soup experience, stay away from wild rice mixes that contain other varieties of rice mixed with very little actual wild rice.
- Unsalted butter – Unsalted gives you more control over the salt content.
- Vegetables – I use yellow onion, celery, carrots, and mushrooms in this soup. You could switch it up with other vegetables as well.
- Chicken broth – I always use a low sodium broth.
- Half and half – Adds the perfect light creaminess to the soup base.
- Soy sauce – One of my savory flavor secrets, I LOVE to use it in soups!
- Salt and pepper
- Herbs – A bay leaf, plus fresh thyme and parsley perfectly flavor the soup. You could also use dried thyme and parsley.
- Shredded chicken – Either roast or grill some chicken breasts, or use chicken leftovers. We also love to use leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. Smoked turkey is especially wonderful in this soup, a favorite at our house!
- Lemon juice – Freshly squeezed lemon juice is added right at the end to give a little brightness!
How to Make Chicken Wild Rice Soup
There’s just nothing quite as comforting as a pot of soup simmering on the stovetop on a cold winter day. I often double the recipe and freeze half of it for an easy meal later on. It doesn’t take much extra effort to ensure another meal of our favorite soup!
- Prepare the wild rice. Cook the rice according to package instructions, which usually takes 50 to 60 minutes. Don’t rush this, as it’s important that the majority of the rice be split open with a curled appearance. The rice needs to cook long enough for that hard outer shell to crack open.
- Saute the vegetables. In a large pot, melt the butter and add the vegetables and garlic. Cook until the onion is transparent.
- Add the broth. Stir in the flour until it bubbles then add the broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a low boil for one minute.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Add the cooked wild rice, half and half, soy sauce, salt & pepper, herbs, and chicken (or turkey). Simmer for 20 minutes until thoroughly hot.
- Taste and serve. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and taste to see if you’d like more salt and pepper. Then serve and enjoy!
Tips for Success
This comforting soup is easy to make, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Be sure to use a large enough pot. When making a single batch of this soup, I use this pot (affiliate link). When doubling the recipe, a 12 quart stock pot (affiliate link) works great.
- Prepare the wild rice in advance. The wild rice can be prepared a day or two ahead of making the rest of the soup; just store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. This will speed up the cooking time for the rest of the soup if you’ll be pressed for time on the day you want to serve it.
- Use whole grain wild rice. While you can buy cracked wild rice, it’s just not as beautiful as the whole grains, and doesn’t give the same overall texture to the soup. Whole grain is what you want for the appropriate texture and flavor.
- Switch up the veggies. This is a great recipe for adding in the veggies that you already have on hand. Green beans and corn would both be great additions. You could even stir in some spinach or kale.
- Use leftover meat. Leftover rotisserie chicken is perfect for this wild rice soup, as is leftover Thanksgiving turkey!
- Adjust the salt. Depending on the saltiness of the broth, chicken or turkey, etc., you may need to add more salt or soy sauce to achieve the best flavor. Just taste test and add more if you need to.
- Adjust the creaminess. If you like a super creamy soup, use more half and half. Or even use some heavy cream. If you like the broth thinner, don’t add as much half and half.
With chicken, wild rice, and vegetables all cooked into one dish, there’s little need for accompaniments with this soup. It’s truly a complete meal on its own, and we like to serve this soup for Friendsgiving. Make it “fancy”, using your best China, or serve it super casual in mugs (I love to eat soup from mugs!).
You may want to garnish with an additional squeeze of lemon or add a sprinkle of fresh herbs on top. Otherwise, I typically just serve this creamy soup with crackers or warm bread. A fresh green side salad is also nice – and the maple Dijon dressing from my holiday wild rice salad would be perfect for this meal!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- In the fridge. Leftover wild rice soup will stay great for about 5 days in the fridge. Just reheat on the stovetop or even in the microwave. If the leftovers are too thick, add a splash of additional chicken broth to thin it out.
- In the freezer. As I mentioned, I LOVE making a double batch of this soup and freezing half of it! Allow it to cool completely then transfer to freezer-safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stovetop! Add additional chicken broth if necessary.
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More Wild Rice Recipes:
- Chicken Wild Rice Casserole with Gruyere
- Mashed Potato and Wild Rice Stuffed Mushrooms
- Creamy Wild Rice Casserole with Sausage and Mushrooms
- Mushroom and Wild Rice Stuffed Peppers
- 1 cup uncooked whole grain (not cracked) wild rice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 large carrots, sliced into 1/4'' thick coins
- 8 ounces fresh button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tsp. dried)
- 4 cups cooked and coarsely shredded chicken or turkey (smoked turkey is especially wonderful!)
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- First, start cooking the wild rice, so it’s ready to add to the finished soup. Prepare according to the package instructions. This will take awhile – usually about 50 to 60 minutes, or even a bit more. Make sure the wild rice is cooked until most all of it is split open. It will have a curled appearance, with the dark outer shell broken open to reveal the lighter interior. The wild rice can even be prepared a day or two ahead of making the rest of the soup; just store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
- The remainder of the recipe can be made all in one pot. I like to use this pot for a single recipe, and a 12 quart stock pot when I double the recipe. Start by melting the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic. Stir well and sauté until the onion is transparent and softened.
- Blend in flour, cooking until it bubbles a bit. Gradually add the broth, stirring constantly. Turn up the heat a bit and bring the soup to a low boil. Boil for 1 minute.
- Reduce heat slightly and add the cooked wild rice, half and half, soy sauce, salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and chicken or turkey. Simmer for 20 minutes or until thoroughly warmed.
- Stir in the fresh lemon juice and taste test to see if it needs more salt and pepper. Serve with crackers or warm bread.
Thin any leftovers with additional chicken broth, if needed.
from a farmgirl's dabbles
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 406Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 544mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 30g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
This post was previously published in 2011. Photographs and some of the text were updated in 2021.