Chicken and Rice Soup with Homemade Stock

I had work off on Wednesday due to the funeral proceedings for George H.W. Bush. The law firm I work for follows the government schedule, so when the federal government is closed, so are we. Let’s say I took full advantage of the free day off. I slept in, did some cleaning, watched a lot of Netflix, and of course completed a couple cooking projects.

Since I had just made a whole roasted chicken over the weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to make stock from the carcass. I also happened to have a rotisserie chicken with some meat left on it, so I had two carcasses. I had used a good deal of the breast meat from the rotisserie chicken to make a chicken parmesan pasta bake, but there was certainly still a significant amount of meat on the chicken. This was going to be perfect for soup, so I reserved the meat.

To make the stock, I dropped the two carcasses into the largest pot I had. It is okay to break the carcasses into pieces. It actually helps with extraction of the chicken flavor and production of gelatin. I added two whole unpeeled carrots, three whole celery stalks (leaves included), a whole yellow onion (quartered), a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a half a bunch of fresh Italian parsley (stems included), and a couple garlic cloves.

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I then added about 10 cups of water (enough to cover the carcasses and vegetables). I turned the heat on high and brought the liquid to a boil. Then, I reduced the heat to low  gentle simmer. I let the liquid sit at a simmer for a few hours. I was reading a post from Alton Brown who said to let stock simmer for 6-8 hours. I didn’t have that much time, but I did let it simmer for about three hours.

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I was surprised how much flavor developed in this stock in such a short amount of time. Not long after it was simmering, I was already sensing this tasty chicken flavor that strengthened over time. I could see a small layer of fat building on the top of the stock, which I tried my best to skim off the stock. After cooking for several hours and feeling content with the flavor, I strained the stock. I was going to turn this gorgeous stock into a soup.

This was my first time ever making my own stock. It is definitely time consuming, but it is worth making this effort. This stock functioned just as well as the kind I buy from the store, and I think it actually tasted better. I will be keeping this experience in mind for the future if I have another whole chicken. Now, I will share with you the recipe I came up with for chicken and rice soup.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Yields about 2 quarts

Ingredients:

  • two tablespoons olive oil
  • one yellow onion, diced
  • one garlic clove, minced
  • two carrots, diced
  • three celery stalks, diced
  • 6-8 cups chicken stock
  • two sprigs fresh thyme
  • one teaspoon dried parsley (can substitute for Italian seasoning)
  • one cup uncooked white or brown rice
  • two cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken breast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the diced onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally (4-5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock, starting with about 6 cups.  Add thyme sprigs and dried parsley.
  4. Add the rice and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower heat and return to a simmer.
  5. Allow the soup to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
  6. When the rice is almost cooked, stir in cooked chicken to reheat. If the rice absorbed too much of the liquid, add more broth or top off with water.
  7. Remove the thyme sprigs and add the lemon juice into the soup. Then, stir in the milk and adjust seasoning before serving.

This souped smelled like heaven on earth and tasted divine. The homemade stock was definitely what made this soup extra special. I loved that the stock added such great flavor to the soup. The stock tasted decidedly more like chicken than any store-bought stock. This soups also gets some added body from using milk. You can leave that out if you want, but I like chicken and rice soup with a hint of creaminess.

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This soup is a great way to use up ingredients in your house. I already had chicken, a lemon, carrots, celery, and thyme leftover from other meals I cooked recently. The only ingredients I really needed to pick up were onions and parsley. I only spent a couple additional dollars to make this soup.

We had perfect soup weather this week. It was even lightly snowing when I cooked this. I went to an exercise class on Wednesday and pre-made this soup. After I came back in from the cold, all I needed to do was heat it up again and enjoy. I got a nice cozy bowl of soup to warm me up after the class. And of course, the best part was having delicious leftovers for the rest of the week.

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