There are a lot of bad things about moving this time of year. You know, like getting acclimated to a new commute that involves walking over a mile each way in -30 temps. Or not having chosen a new pediatrician during the height of sick season. But one good thing is it’s the perfect time for soups and stews that can be made ahead on the weekend and then reheated on a busy weeknight.
The last couple of Sundays I’ve made soups to reheat on Monday nights. If you make them at the same time you’re making Sunday dinner (which is easy to do if Sunday dinner is something like a casserole, roast, or similar that has some hands-off cooking time), it’s almost like getting a free homecooked meal the next day.
I’m not sure why, but I’ve never made a creamy chicken soup at home, although it’s always been my intention. Tom is always talking about how much he loves wild rice and how we never eat it, so I decided to go that route rather than noodles or white rice, but obviously you can change up the starch any way you see fit (keep in mind, though, that the rice to liquid ratio for wild rice is higher than most starches, so you will want to decrease the broth/cream a bit). I had planned on making this soup with mushrooms, but I forgot to put them on the grocery list (story of my life these days – I forget at least one thing a day). No matter, because it turned out great without them, but of course if you want to add them, please do! Bottom line – this soup is really adaptable to your tastes and what you have on hand. It’s creamy, comforting, and hearty, and I’m sure it will be making a reappearance during this absolutely ridiculous winter. Can you believe it’s only January?! Sigh…
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Bacon
4 strips bacon, chopped
1.5 Tbsp. butter
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup raw wild rice
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half or cream
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook until bacon is crisp and has rendered much of its fat. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard all but 2 tsp. of the bacon fat.
To the remaining 2 tsp. bacon fat, add the butter and melt. Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the bay leaf, chicken broth, and wild rice. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover or mostly cover the pot. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until wild rice is nearly done, but still has a slight bite in the center, about 35 minutes. Add the chicken; warm through and allow the rice to finish cooking uncovered, about 5-10 more minutes.
Whisk together the flour and about half of the cream/half and half until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the remaining cream. Pour the half and half mixture into the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened and half and half is warm. Stir in the cooked bacon and serve.