Easy Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup filled with healthy veggies, juicy chicken, and chewy-delicious wild rice. A meal in itself, the whole family will love this comforting one-pot gluten-free soup recipe.
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Recipe
Chicken soup is one of my favorite forms of self-care. It’s like a giant hug from a familiar friend, and I don’t know about you guys, but these days I feel like I could use a hug or two. From classic chicken noodle soup to flavorful chicken tortilla, chicken soup is the perfect comfort food.
Today I’m sharing my favorite creamy chicken and wild rice soup. Unlike this easy chicken and rice soup, today’s recipe is filled with chewy whole grain wild rice and finished with a splash of heavy cream. You’re going to love it!
Since wild rice, like all types of rice, is gluten-free, it’s easy to make this soup gluten-free, too (read more on that below). Add your favorite veggies (kale, butternut squash, cauliflower, mushrooms!) and cook using your favorite broth – homemade chicken stock or bone broth are a couple of my favorites.
Ingredients and Frequently Asked Questions
- Fresh thyme
- All-purpose flour
- Wild rice
- Chicken broth
- Heavy whipping cream
What is wild rice?
Wild rice isn’t actually rice at all. It’s a whole-grain aquatic grass with an edible seed resembling rice. Compared to white rice, wild rice has a chewy texture, nutty flavor, and longer cooking time. It grows wild in the shallow waters and slow-flowing streams of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, and the Great Lakes region of North America (known as true wild-grown wild rice) or it may be cultivated (farmed) under regulated conditions (known as cultivated wild rice).
One benefit of adding wild rice (vs. other types of rice) to soup is that even after long periods of cooking or reheating, wild rice never turns to mush. It always maintains some texture and chewiness making leftovers just as fabulous on day three as they were on day one.
Can I use a different rice?
Yes, with different results. I do not recommend adding any type of short-grain or medium-grain rice. For best results, stick with either brown or white long-grain rice.
- Brown rice – Brown rice will cook about 20 minutes faster than wild rice. It will not stay as “firm” as wild rice, but it is a much better option than white rice.
- White rice – Long-grain white rice only takes about 15 minutes to cook. Add it after you’ve removed the cooked chicken breasts. Keep in mind that white rice will turn mushy after extended periods of time.
Can I use leftover rice?
Yes. I actually prefer adding leftover (or pre-cooked) rice to soup in all cases that don’t call for wild rice. Add leftover cooked rice to the pot 5 minutes before serving or add a scoop of rice to individual serving bowls topped with hot soup.
Can I make this Chicken and Wild Rice Soup vegan?
Yes. It’s easy. All it takes are a few simple substitutions.
- Swap the butter for olive oil or a plant-based butter substitute
- Use low-sodium vegetable broth instead of chicken stock
- Swap the cream for a non-dairy alternative like coconut milk
Do I have to add flour?
Flour is mixed with the butter and sauteed veggies to create a roux. In the case of this recipe, the roux is used to slightly thicken the soup. Of course, you don’t have to add any flour, or you may swap with a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with cold water (added about 10 minutes before the soup has finished cooking).
- If you are sensitive to gluten, be sure to use gluten-free all-purpose flour or cornstarch as a substitute.
Can I add any other veggies?
What chicken should I add?
The type of chicken you add to this soup is all about personal preference. I had skinless chicken breasts, so that’s what I added. But chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on, or boneless skinless) would also work really well. Things to keep in mind,
- Boneless chicken breasts will dry out if they’re overcooked. Add them directly to your simmering soup and cook for approximately 25-30 minutes. That’s it. Remove and set aside to cool before shredding and adding back to the pot about 10 minutes before serving.
- Chicken thighs, naturally higher in fat, will be slightly more resistant to drying out, but they will contribute to an overall heavier soup (especially if you add them with the skin left on).
- Leftover chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken are fabulous additions as well.
How long does wild rice take to cook?
In my experience, it takes at least one hour and fifteen minutes to one hour and thirty minutes for wild rice to cook (or until it is soft enough to enjoy). If this is your first time cooking wild rice, plan additional time just in case (it’s hard to overcook wild rice) or soak your rice in cold water overnight. Soaking will cut the total cooking time in half.
How to Make Chicken Wild Rice Soup
1. Slowly cook the veggies. Melt 4 tablespoons butter and sauté the onions, celery, and carrots in a large Dutch oven or pot (at least 7.5 quarts) over medium heat. Cook until softened, approximately 10-15 minutes.
In the last minute, stir in the fresh minced garlic cloves, fresh thyme, and season with salt and pepper.
2. Sprinkle with flour. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix thoroughly until fully incorporated with the veggies. Cook, stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes, or until the flour is lightly toasted. The addition of flour mixes with the flour to make a “roux”. Reduce heat, if needed to avoid burning the flour.
3. Add the rice.
4. Add the stock. Slowly add the stock and water to the pot, stirring continuously. Mix thoroughly to prevent any clumping. Add the bay leaves and bring to boil.
5. Add the chicken and cook. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for approximately 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the chicken breasts. Allow chicken breasts to cook for approximately 25-30 minutes (maximum). Carefully remove the chicken breasts from the pot and set aside to cool.
6. Shred the chicken. Shred the cooked (and cooled!!) chicken into small pieces. Return to the pot. Increase heat to medium and allow soup to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
7. Remove from heat and add the heavy cream. Stir in as much (or as little) heavy whipping cream as you’d like (I added approximately 3/4 cup). Feel free to add shredded cheese for an extra luscious and creamy soup.
8. Serve. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or fresh thyme, if desired.
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup: Storing and Freezing
This soup is delicious leftover or frozen and reheated.
Allow your chicken and wild rice soup to cool before transferring to the refrigerator. Store directly in the pot covered with a lid or transfer to containers with tight-fitting lids for up to 3 days.
In general, creamy soups don’t usually freeze very well. You’ll notice that, upon thawing, the texture is grainy, almost chalky. The best way to prevent this is to freeze your soup before you add any cream. This takes a little more forethought, but absolutely worth it if dairy separation bothers you. That said, should you plan to freeze with the cream already added, try using a full-fat heavy whipping cream rather than low-fat or half-and-half.
You can reheat your soup on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in the slow cooker.
- Stovetop – Best for large batches. Heat gently over medium heat.
- Microwave – Best for smaller, individual portion sizes. Heat at 1-minute intervals, stirring between each minute for even cooking.
- Slow Cooker – Transfer soup to a large slow cooker and cook on low for 2-4 hours (longer if it’s starting from partially frozen).
More Soup Recipes,
If you try making this Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 2 medium onions - diced
- 5 ribs celery - chopped
- 4 large carrots - chopped
- 6 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 teaspoon fresh thyme - chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt - plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper - plus more to taste
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour - (use gluten-free all-purpose flour to make this recipe gluten-free)
- 1 ¼ cups wild rice
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth - or other broth such as vegetable broth or beef broth
- 4 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts - (or chicken thighs)
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream - plus more if desired
- Fresh chopped parsley - to garnish
- Cook the veggies. Heat the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the carrots and celery, mix thoroughly, and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes (note: if the vegetables start to brown or burn, reduce heat to medium-low).
- In the last minute, stir in the fresh minced garlic cloves, fresh thyme, and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the flour. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix thoroughly until fully incorporated with the veggies. Cook, stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes, or until the flour is lightly toasted (do not burn the flour).
- Add the rice and thoroughly mix to combine with the flour-coated veggies.
- Stirring continuously, slowly add the stock and water to the pot. Mix thoroughly to prevent any clumping. Add the bay leaves and bring to boil.
- Cook. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, half-way, with a lid and simmer for approximately 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken breasts and cover. Allow chicken breasts to cook for approximately 25-30 minutes (maximum). Use kitchen tongs to remove the chicken breasts from the pot and set aside to cool.
- Shred the chicken and return to the pot. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, use two forks or your hands to shred into small pieces. Return the shredded chicken to the pot. Increase heat to medium and allow soup to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add the heavy cream. Remove the soup from heat and stir in as much (or as little) heavy whipping cream as you'd like (I added approximately 3/4 cup).
- Serve. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or fresh thyme, if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)