Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
1 carton (32 ounces) chicken broth (low sodium, lowfat or fat free, no MSG)
3 small to medium sized chicken breasts, trimmed *OR* substitute 2 to 3 cups diced cooked chicken
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium sized yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
salt and pepper
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme (crush it in the palm of your hand if leaves are large)
1 pint fat free half & half (may substitute a pink milk if desired)
1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked rice (I used cooked brown basmati & wild rice)
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
To poach the chicken: In a shallow skillet (with a lid), add the chicken broth and the uncooked chicken breasts. Bring broth to a simmer, cover pan with a lid, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and set on cutting board until cool enough to dice. When cooled sufficiently, dice in to bite-size pieces. Strain broth in a fine mesh strainer, if desired, and reserve broth for soup.
For the soup: In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Added diced carrots, onions, and celery, and season with some salt and pepper (the salt will help draw some of the liquid out of the veggies). Cook the veggies, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, the celery is bright green, and carrots are bright orange (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add the diced garlic and cook an additional minute, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir to coat ; cook an additional minute. Increase the heat to medium high. Slowly whisk in the reserved chicken broth and then slowly add in the half and half, stirring almost constantly. Add the thyme. Once the liquids come up to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover the pot with a lid and allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes or until veggies are desired tenderness. Add in the cooked chicken and the cooked rice and allow to simmer for a few more minutes until heated through. Add additional salt and pepper and a little granulated sugar if desired to adjust seasoning.
This would be a good recipe to make if you happen to have leftover cooked chicken (or turkey) and rice at home. You could use a rotisserie chicken from the store for a short cut, too. I did not happen to have any leftover chicken and I did not have any left over rice, so this soup was a bit of work and got a few pots dirty... but it was worth the effort in my humble opinion. I've never tried to poach chicken before, but it was a very easy way to cook up the chicken breasts for this soup. There was quite a bit of "debris" swimming around in the broth when I was done poaching the chicken, so I opted to strain the broth before adding it back into the soup (Yep, I was making lots of dirty dishes!). This step is optional. If you do not have a fine mesh strainer, a larger strainer lined with cheese cloth would also do the trick!
I've been on a soup kick lately... if you haven't noticed. Yes, it's August and it's still hot out, but I am enjoying having my lunches packed for the week. I guess some people plan their wardrobe and lay out their outfits for the week in advance. As for me, I make a pot of soup, portion the servings into small plastic storage containers, and have my lunches lined up for the week.