Chicken and Rice Soup Recipe
Chicken and Rice Soup is always a kid favorite. But canned soup is expensive, the value for your dollar is poor, and it often contains preservatives and ingredients you don’t want your family eating. Instead, use your pressure cooker, leftover chicken or turkey and common pantry / freezer staples to make a homemade batch of chicken and rice soup that will satisfy the whole family. My recipe is familiar enough that children will eat it, yet it has a few extra ingredients to please adult palates as well. It takes only a few minutes, and you get to control what goes into your family’s meal. Makes a great last minute meal or a quick thermos lunch to make at night after the stores have closed. I’ve also included alternate instructions for brown rice, gluten free and GMO free versions of this soup.
Why Should I Use Long Grain Rice for this Soup? While many cookbooks and cooking sites will tell you to use long grain rice for soups because they have less starch than shorter grain rice, that’s only part of the explanation. Rice contains two kinds of starch, amylose (which provides structure for the rice grains and absorbs water) and amylopectin (which tends to break apart from the rice and act like a sticky, glue like substance on the surface of the grains). Per How to Read a French Fry, “short and medium-grain rices have a higher percentage of amylopectin than long-grain rices, so they tend to be sticky, while the grains of long-grain rice tend to remain separate and distinct after cooking.” To keep grains of rice separate, as well as reduce clouding of your broth, a higher percentage of amylose, compared to amylopectin, is preferable. The Science of Good Cooking puts the percentages of amylose for long grain rice at 22%, for medium grain rice at 18% and for short grain rice at 15%. On Food and Cooking puts the percentages at 22% and (15 – 17%), respectively, for long and medium grain rice.
But The Science of Good Cooking mentions another reason why long grain rice is preferable to medium- and short-grain rice for this application: “as a result of the differences in the amylose and protein content, the starch granules in long-grain rice swell and gelatinize at a much higher temperature (158 degrees) than the granules in medium grain rice (144 degrees).” How to Read a French Fry explains further that because “short grain rices finish cooking at a lower temperature, they are very sensitive to overcooking. If you overcook them, the swelling starches will burst through the outer layer, emptying into the cooking liquid and thickening it.” Because your pressure cooker can reach up to around 250° F, it is easier to overcook medium and short grain rice, and if you do so, it may burst, clouding, or even thickening, your soup. Long grain rice is better able to tolerate the high temperatures involved in pressure cooking. Therefore, in most (but not all) pressure cooker applications, long grain rice is a better choice.
Ingredient Substitutions. Chicken: This recipe calls for leftover (cooked) chicken or turkey, but you can also use either frozen or uncooked chicken. If using fresh, bone and skin the meat, and cut it up into ½” cubes. If using raw or frozen meat, add one minute to the cooking time under pressure. Carrots: You can use either fresh or frozen diced carrots for this recipe. Rice: If you only have medium- or short grain rice, you can use it instead (longer grains are preferable), but medium and short grain rice will release more starch into the broth, making it cloudier and a little thicker. If you want to use brown rice instead, cook the rice by itself in the broth first (pressure cook at High Pressure for 8 minutes), manually release pressure, add the chicken and carrots, and cook an additional 2 minutes at High Pressure. Do not use instant rice: not only is there no need to ever use instant rice in a pressure cooker, but the process used to make rice “instant” degrades the flavor and weakens the grains, making them more likely to release a lot of starch into the broth or to break apart completely.
GMO Free and Gluten Free Options for This Recipe. If you want GMO free soup, buy organic ingredients. Organic chicken and carrots are readily available (you can get both at Costco), local grocery stores sell organic celery and chicken broth, and if you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can purchase Organic Long Grain White Rice or Organic Long Grain Brown Rice online. If you’re on a tight budget, its better to omit the celery than to buy non-organic, and I’ve read that Thailand is restricting genetically engineered crops and specifically, as of the time I write this, Thailand has banned the cultivation of GM rice. So if you can determine the country of origin, look for rice grown in Thailand. For those who want gluten free soup, rice, fresh carrots and chicken are fine, if you’re using processed chicken or carrots, you’ll need to check the ingredient list for unsafe ingredients, and of course, make sure you purchase Gluten Free Broth.
1 cup long grain rice
2 – 3 cups diced leftover chicken or turkey (1/4″ dice)
2 cups diced carrot (1/4″ dice)
½ – 1 cup diced celery (1/4″ dice) (optional)
6 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons vermouth or white wine
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon Chicken Base
Electric Pressure Cooker
12″ Silicone Tipped Tongs
Colander or strainer to rinse the rice
6″ chef’s knife
Hand held wire strainer or colander
Ziploc bag (optional)
Meat Mallet or heavy skillet to whack the garlic (optional)
- Wash the carrots and then peel them. Cut each carrot into several segments, approximately at the points where the carrot tapers. Then cut each segment into ¼” planks, each plank into ¼” thick carrot sticks, and the sticks into approximately ¼” cubes. Measure 2 cups of diced carrot.
- Optional: Clean the celery stalks. Cut the stalks into ¼” sticks, and cut the sticks into ¼” cubes. Measure ½ – 1 cup of diced celery.
- Place the garlic head inside a Ziploc bag and seal it. Whack lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet to break apart the head. Remove the root and any loose garlic skin and re-seal the bag. Whack the individual garlic cloves lightly again to separate the garlic skin from the cloves. Remove everything from the bag, discard the loose garlic clove peels. Cut off the root end, remove any brown spots and green sprouts, and roughly chop the garlic.
- Remove any bones and skin from your leftover chicken / turkey and discard. Dice the chicken into approximately ¼” pieces. If you are using uncooked chicken, cut into ½” pieces (they will shrink when they cook). Measure 2 – 3 cups of the diced chicken.
- If you are using white rice, rinse the rice in cold water, stirring it thoroughly with a spoon or clean fingers, until the water doesn’t cloud up. This removes excess starch from the surface that will otherwise cloud up and thicken your soup broth. (You can give the rinse water to your garden plants.) If you are using brown rice, you can skip this step – whole grain rice does not have starch on the surface of the grains.
- Add 1 tablespoon of chicken base, the chopped garlic and 2 tablespoons of vermouth or white wine to the pressure cooker pot.
- If you are using white rice, add your diced chicken, carrots, celery, rice and 6 cups of chicken broth to the pressure cooker. Lock the lid on the machine, and pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 2 minutes using QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE. If you are using uncooked chicken, add an additional minute to the time cooking under pressure. If you are using brown rice, per the Ingredient Substitutions above, add only the broth and the rice to the pot. Pressure cook for 8 minutes at high pressure, release the pressure manually, add the vegetables and the chicken, and pressure cook an additional 2 minutes at high pressure.
- When the timer beeps that the machine is through pressure cooking, turn off the “Keep Warm” function and manually release pressure. Unlock the lid, holding it at an angle over the bowl to allow any hot broth to fall back into the pot. Give the soup a quick stir, and then serve immediately. Enjoy!
GARLIC TIP: Buying peeled or minced garlic is often ridiculously expensive, and refrigerated or jarred products are often lacking in flavor and less than fresh. I’ve tried lots of different ways of peeling garlic, including Martha Stewart’s method, which involves breaking apart the garlic cloves and then shaking them between two bowls. It works if you use heavy enough bowls, but then you have to wash the bowls. Not my idea of a timesaver. Instead, I use a Ziploc bag and a Meat Mallet as detailed above. The Ziploc bag keeps the garlic from flying around the kitchen, and the meat mallet easily breaks apart the head and with a very light whack, separates the clove from its skin. (A harder whack once the garlic skins are removed can be used to crush the garlic, if desired.) Once finished, I’ll rinse out the Ziploc bag and use it to store leftovers.
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 2 – 3 cups diced leftover chicken or turkey (1/4" dice)
- 2 cups diced carrot (1/4" dice)
- ½ - 1 cup diced celery (1/4" dice) (optional)
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons vermouth or white wine
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 tablespoon Chicken Base
- Wash and peel the carrots. Cut into ¼" pieces and measure 2 cups of diced carrot.
- Optional: If you want to add celery, clean the stalks and cut into approximately ¼" pieces. Measure ½ to 1 cup of diced celery.
- Break apart the garlic head, discarding the garlic peel. Peel the cloves, Cut off a slight bit of the root end of each garlic clove, remove any brown spots and green shoots, and then roughly chop the garlic. If you'd like to see my method for breaking apart the garlic head and removing the garlic skins, see Step 3 above.
- Bone and skin your chicken or turkey. If you are using leftover (cooked) chicken, cut into ¼" size pieces. If you are using uncooked chicken or turkey, cut the raw meat into ½" size pieces. Measure 2 – 3 cups of the poultry.
- If using white rice, wash the rice in cold water until the water no longer clouds up. (You can save the rinse water and give it to your garden.) If you are using brown rice, there is no need to rinse the rice.
- Add your chicken base, chopped garlic and either white wine or vermouth to the pressure cooker pot.
- If you are using white rice, add the rest of your ingredients (chicken, rice, carrots, celery and broth) and pressure cook at HIGH PRESSURE (10 PSI) for 2 minutes using QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE. If you're using raw poultry, add an additional minute to the cooking time under pressure. If you are using brown rice, add only the brown rice and the broth to the pot, pressure cook on High Pressure for 8 minutes, using manual release, then add the meat and the vegetables and pressure cook an additional 2 minutes on High (quick pressure release).
- When the timer goes off, turn off the "Keep Warm" feature and manually release the pressure. When pressure has been released, unlock the lid, holding it at an angle over the pot to let any hot broth fall back into the pot. Stir the soup once or twice, and you're ready to serve!
Chicken, Herb and Rice Soup. This recipe already includes garlic and wine/vermouth to improve the flavor, but if the adults want a little something more, sprinkle a little dried tarragon in their soup bowls. Tarragon pairs beautifully with poultry, carrots, celery and rice, it adds a lovely perfume to the soup, and it has a delicate, delicious herb flavor that goes very well with this dish.