Most of our mothers served us chicken noodle or chicken and rice soup when we weren’t feeling so hot as kids. Creamy, salty, soothing and fortifying, a hearty and yet light soup like this is guaranteed to make you feel better. And the good news is, you don’t have to pretend you’re too sick to go to school these days in order to find yourself gratefully slurping up a bowl.
I recently whipped up a batch of this comforting soup, and took the time to freeze individually sized portions in plastic containers for quick, nutritious dinners I could easily defrost in the fridge and reheat on a weeknight. It may look like a lot of ingredients, and the flavors certainly are anything but simple, but odds are you already have most of these staples on hand, already in your crisper drawer. Like most seasonal, chunky soups, the method is the same: sauté the veggies, add the stock, and simmer. The three S’s, if you will: sauté, stock, simmer. Well, four S’s, if you want to include the last, but most important, one: savor.
There’s nothing quite like the delectable aroma of this soup steaming up the kitchen on a chilly autumn or winter day.
- 6 cups homemade chicken stock
- 1 3½ pound free-range chicken, cut into pieces and patted dry
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed and finely diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 2 leeks, ends trimmed, cleaned and finely sliced
- 2 cups crimini mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup dry white wine or sherry
- ¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup uncooked long grain brown and wild rice mix, cooked according to the package directions with any seasonings omitted
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Minced Italian parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Season the chicken with two tablespoons of the olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for forty minutes, or until the juices run clean. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Heat a large cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot over medium heat and melt half of the remaining butter with half of the remaining olive oil. When it’s melted, add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have begun to caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Adding the rest of the butter and olive oil to the pan, add the celery, leeks, and carrots and sauté until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes until it coats all the vegetables. Add the white wine or sherry and slowly add the chicken stock, along with the bay leaves, thyme, and sage. Bring the soup to a simmer. Meanwhile, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken back to the pot, along with the cooked rice. Simmer the soup for about 25 minutes, until heated through and slightly thickened. Slowly add the heavy cream, stirring until it’s incorporated. Cook the soup for about 5 additional minutes, until the cream is heated through. Add the minced parsley, stirring to thoroughly incorporate, and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, garnish with a sprinkling of additional parsley and serve immediately.
Kitchen Prep Tip
Waiter, there’s sand in my soup! For anything involving leeks, it’s important that they’re properly and thoroughly cleaned. As they grow, sand and dirt often become trapped between the layers of these onion-like vegetables. To clean leeks, halve the leek and discard the topmost green part of the leaves and the root. Cut each half into thin slices and place in a large mixing bowl or stopped-up sink filled with cold water to allow any sand trapped between the leek layers to sink to the bottom. Swirl the leeks with your hand to help any debris loosen, and then drain the cleaned leeks on paper towels.