Slow cooker chicken and wild rice soup made with ease. Lean chicken breasts simmer in a savory stock with carrots, celery, onion, thyme, and garlic. Long grain wild rice cooks along with the soup into tender grains. A piping hot bowl is just the right solution as an appetizer or dinner on chilly nights.
Comforting soups are essential during colder weather, and so I’ve been busy testing out tasty recipes for when the time comes. This chicken and wild rice soup features lean protein paired with tender carrots, celery, and onion for additional nutrients.
The slow cooker is the perfect kitchen companion for an easy meal that requires little prep and hands-off cooking. Aromatic vegetables are sauteed first before adding into the Crockpot to ensure maximum flavor. All of the ingredients then gently simmer together with herbs and spices that infuse into each bowl. The gentle cooking process keeps the chicken juicy while allowing the grains of rice to absorb the stock and naturally thicken the soup.
How to make chicken and wild rice soup
- Saute garlic, onions, carrots, and celery to lightly brown and boost the natural sweetness of the vegetables.
- Add all vegetables, chicken breast, wild rice, herbs, and seasonings to the slow cooker.
- Cook for at least 3 hours on “High” or 6 hours on “Low” setting to ensure chicken and rice are cooked through.
- Using whole bone-in chicken breasts ensures the meat does not become dry.
- The soup can be held on the “Warm” slow cooker setting to serve later in the day.
- Option to freeze into individual portions once cooled down to ensure it’s safe to eat.
The slow cooker and Instant Pot works by gradually simmering food over extended periods of time. The simmer point never reaches above boiling point, around 209ºF (98ºC) no matter if you’re on the low or high setting. This temperature allows the ingredients to gently cook and yield succulent chicken and a flavorful soup base. Chicken thighs can also be used if you prefer dark meat.
What is wild rice?
The dark-colored rice is a semi-aquatic grass grown in lakes, bays or tidal rivers, commonly grown as Zizania aquatica or Zinzania palustris varieties. The native North American plant is fickle to grow and harvest, with a low yield, making it more expensive than other grains. You’ll often find a blend of long-grain white and wild rice at the markets to help cut down cost and provide different tastes and textures in a dish.
Wild rice adds a nutty and slightly smokey flavor to the soup, adding depth to the dish. The intriguing rice also packs in an impressive nutritional profile, being a good source of magnesium, folate, phosphorus, fiber, zinc, niacin, Vitamin B, and some protein. If you’d like to use all wild rice instead of the blend as called for in the recipe, go for it!
Cooking wild rice
After some evaluation on how long it takes the wild rice to cook in the soup, I found that it needs at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours of cooking on the high setting. Otherwise, the tough grains never fully soften, they should burst open, giving a light and dark striped appearance.
I recommend checking for doneness of the poultry and grains around 2 hours, and then every thirty minutes. If the chicken is ready first, remove from the cooker and cover to prevent moisture loss while the rice continues to cook. Another option is to prepare the wild rice on the stovetop, then add it to the slow cooker before serving. It requires between 40 to 50 minutes of simmering time.
Ready to serve
To keep the chicken succulent, shred the meat right before serving and add back to the soup. Each hot bowl of soup has just the right balance of meat, vegetables, and grains. My family often eats it as the main entree served with a simple salad tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. This soup provides the warmth and nourishment you need after a long day!
More soup recipes
Use bone-in chicken for the soup
Chicken breasts have very little fat, which means there is less protection during the cooking process. To reduce the chance of the meat from becoming dry and inedible, using bone-in cuts is critical. The bones are a poor insulator of heat, so it serves as a barrier from the hot liquid with the protein. The chicken gradually heats and cooks through, plus the bones add more flavor to the soup.
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Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup minced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced carrots, ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup diced celery, ¼-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups sliced brown mushrooms, ¼-inch thick slices
- ½ cup wild rice blend
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1 pound bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Heat a medium-sized saute pan over medium heat.
- Add olive oil, once the oil is hot add the garlic and onions, saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the carrots and celery, saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and saute for 30 seconds, then add vegetable mixture to the slow cooker.
- Add mushrooms, wild rice, thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, chicken stock, stir to combine.
- Add chicken and submerge in the stock.
- Cover and cook soup on "HIGH" setting for 3 hours, or "LOW" setting for 6 hours.
- Add more time if needed to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 160ºF (71ºC) and the rice is fully cooked.
- Shred the chicken into smaller pieces, and then add back to the pot.
- Taste soup and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve garnished with parsley.
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