Chicken and Rice Soup

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Chicken and rice soup is the ultimate bowl of comfort food. It’s easy to make too! Just a quick sear of the chicken breasts then it simmers with a mixture of rice, broth, and vegetables. This makes a big batch of hearty soup to share or meal prep for the entire week.

Chicken and Rice Soup in a big pot

When you’re in need of an easy one-pot meal, chicken and rice soup is your answer. Using simple, wholesome ingredients, a delicious warm hearty meal is just minutes away. To ensure gourmet results, I have a few simple cooking tips you can do before the ingredients come together. Grab a bowl and a big spoon, this soup will disappear fast and have the family asking for more.

It’s all about lightly browning the meat, vegetables, and rice before you add the broth. The dry-heat helps to develop deeper savory flavors on the poultry and grains while caramelizing the produce. Together they simmer harmoniously in the pot until the vegetables crush with little effort, the meat is juicy, and the rice is perfectly soft.

chicken, vegetables, and other Ingredients portioned out on a table

Chicken selection

I use lean chicken breasts for this recipe. However, since they lack the fat to enhance their flavor, it’s best to sear them until the surface is slightly brown. This develops new and complex notes thanks to the Maillard Reaction. White meat cooks relatively quickly and so gently simmering the soup ensures that they won’t dry out.

Rice options

The great thing about this soup recipe is that you have flexibility in choosing any type of rice. I usually prefer long or extra-long white rice, but basmati and jasmine are also super aromatic, making them wonderful options. Conventional milled white rice easily absorbs the chicken broth and soaks it up until the grains puff up. Some of the amylose starches in the rice will release and swell in the cooking liquid, creating a naturally thicker soup.

You can substitute wild rice or brown rice for a healthier alternative, but just note the cooking time will be longer, 35 to 50 minutes compared to 20 minutes for white rice. Due to the increased cook time, you’ll want to take the chicken out before the rice is ready. The soup base may also be a little less thick in consistency from the lack of starch on the rice grains.

compilation of four photos showing the process to make a chicken soup

How to make chicken and rice soup

Before searing the chicken, make sure to generously season it with salt and pepper on both sides. Wait for the olive oil to get really nice and hot before placing the chicken in the pot. The Maillard reaction kicks in flavor creation when the surface of the meat reaches 300°F (149°C) and starts to brown.

You want to remove the chicken to prevent overcooking while sauteing the onions, celery, and carrots to bring out their natural sweetness. Saute the rice in the hot oil to toast the outsides which give the neutral grains some nuttiness. Add the chicken, broth, and bay leaf to the pot then bring the liquid to a simmer.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, take it out and shred it into smaller pieces that will fit comfortably in a spoon. When ready to serve, top each bowl with freshly chopped parsley for a nice herbaceous aroma.

compilation of four photos showing how to shred chicken breasts for a soup

Can I use chicken thighs?

Yes! Chicken thighs can be substituted for breasts. If using bone-in poultry the soup will have more body and richness infused into the liquid from the bone marrow, extra fat, and gelatin of the connective tissues. I like this option when making chicken noodle soup, for an even tastier result.

Storing, freezing and reheating

This recipe makes a generous batch, about 8 cups. Make sure to let the soup cool down completely before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To freeze, place 1-cup portions into resealable plastic bags and freeze flat for up to 30 days.

Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or place in a bowl of cool water until no longer solid. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals on high power or simmer in a pot until hot.

Ladle serving chicken and rice soup out of a dutch oven

Looking for a faster method?

To speed up the cooking process and for convenience, you can use leftover roasted chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the market. Just follow the recipe and add the shredded pieces towards the end of cooking.

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Chicken and Rice Soup

Make a big batch of chicken and rice soup with this recipe, just a quick sear of the breasts then simmer with a mixture of rice, broth, and vegetables.
Pin Print Review
4.32 from 29 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings 8 cups
Course Soup
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion, ½-inch dice
  • 1 cup sliced celery, ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup sliced carrots, ¼-inch thick slices
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup white rice, long-grain, basmati, or jasmine
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, once hot at the chicken. Cook until the surface is lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  • Add onion, celery and carrots. Saute and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the rice, stir and cook for 2 minutes to toast the grains.
  • Add the chicken, water, chicken broth, and bay leaf.
  • Bring the broth to a boil, cover the pot and reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  • Simmer the soup until the rice is tender and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 20 minutes. Check after 10 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed.
  • Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf and chicken from the pot. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into smaller pieces then add back to the soup.
  • The rice may absorb water as it sits, add more chicken broth if needed. Taste the soup and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
  • Serve each bowl topped with chopped parsley.

Notes

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Recipe Yield: 8 cups
  • 2 ½ to 3 cups of pre-cooked shredded chicken can be substituted. Add at the end of cooking to warm.

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Nutrition Facts
Chicken and Rice Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 249 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 54mg18%
Sodium 451mg19%
Potassium 556mg16%
Carbohydrates 24g8%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 23g46%
Vitamin A 2755IU55%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 34mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

22 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Mary-Lou says

    Jessica,

    The finished meal look delicious!

    Question: The recipe includes 2 cups (480 ml) water; however, I do not see the use of this water in the instructions. Please clarify.

    Thank you.

  2. Steve V. says

    Thank you Jessica…made this last night and it was delicious! I used farro instead of rice as that’s all I had but it absorbed beautifully and will add more stock today. I also thought the chicken thighs were very flavorful. Lastly, I added tumeric as I’m a big fan and it added a nice touch!

  3. Barbara R. says

    Hi Jessica,

    This recipe looks good and I will try it. Overall I have been very happy with almost every recipe of your I have tried and I enjoy seeing your comments and ideas. But your note about this soup being good if kept in the refrigerator for up the 5 days concerns me. I have always read that cooked chicken or poultry should always be eaten in 3 days – 4 days maximum. I always freeze or use by the 3rd day to avoid getting myself or my family ill. Why do you think up to 5 days is ok? Thank you. Barbara R.

    Note from Healthline – Raw chicken lasts in the fridge for 1–2 days, while cooked chicken lasts 3–4 days.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I often make the soup for meal prep and didn’t feel like there was any noticeable negative change in flavor. I just always make sure to cook the soup completely before adding to the refrigerator to prevent spoilage organisms from growing quickly. However, if you feel more comfortable consuming it sooner or freezing, that’s totally ok!

  4. Jeff N. says

    I cut back rice (Basmati) to 3/4 cup while maintaining 6 cups of liquid as called for in the recipe, but the rice still overwhelmed the broth. Adding another 2 cups of chicken broth helped but diluted the flavor. Next time I’ll reduce rice to 1/2 cup or cook rice separately and add desired amount to soup. I also added carrot and celery leaves for added flavor and added freshly ground white peppercorns towards end of cook.

  5. christian m. says

    After making this I have one recommendation… The rice has a tendency to get mushy and too overcooked if you put it in at the beginning and cant time the chicken cooking to exactly. Because of this, the rice in my soup was super mushy and broken. To avoid this, I recommend cooking the rice separately, using chicken broth in it instead of water, then add the cooked rice to the soup just before serving.
    Other than that, the taste was pretty good. Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Nancy Tauber says

    Hi Jessica – This soup lovely as is or with more spice. You teach us reasons for different flavors and textures. I’m experienced to a degree, and you help me build on what I know to make better cooking decisions. Thanks so much.

  7. Martha Porter says

    Hi Jessica – I wanted a GF recipe to share with two friends who need a comforting meal. I used this recipe and thankfully I had more left over after packing up their portions so I got to try it. So very good! I used basmati and made broth from my chicken. I did add extra broth after completing as the rice consumed so much of it but I always need to to that with any soup that includes rice. That being said, the basmati held together well. Thank you!

  8. Hilda says

    I like the step of actually combining the chopped vegetables with the rice which adds flavor to the rice, haven’t seen this step any where else.

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