Well, we finally got some honest-to-goodness wintry days here in Dallas. I got a few itty bitty ice pellets I’m going to call snow for a few minutes early one morning. Many of you have gotten lots and lots of beautiful, fluffy snow and the days off work and school to show for it. I’m trying not to be bitter. I’m really, really trying.
What’s helping is focusing on this soup. Let me tell you, it shocked me with how good it was. It comes from America’s Test Kitchen, so I knew the recipe would be a sound one. I made a few adaptations and, since I very thankfully had nearly the entire day free, really got to enjoy turning it into a bit of a kitchen project. It’s been a while since I roasted a chicken and, my goodness, I forgot just how heavenly that smells. About 20 minutes into the process, with my sweatpants and slippers on, I was convinced I was doing the whole hygge thing just right.
The original recipe calls for homemade chicken broth, saying the flavor of the soup completely depends on it. I’m not going to doubt America’s Test Kitchen’s famously thorough research process. What I am going to say is, by roasting the chicken thighs and using the juices from that in the soup, I think I was able to recover a good amount of richness and depth of flavor that might have been missing if I’d relied on boxed broth alone. I highly recommend it. That said, it added to the cooking time, which isn’t always a luxury we have. So I say do what you have to do to feed the family. Use boxed broth! Use a rotisserie chicken! Because let’s be honest, the soup will still be tasty and your family will be much less hangry.
So cheers to winter, friends. Let’s all hunker down, bundle up, and enjoy our cold days spent all warm and cozy inside.
Roasted chicken thighs, earthy mushrooms and wild rice, and a mountain of sweet leeks and carrots give this chicken and rice soup with leeks and mushrooms a depth of flavor and a homey warmth you’ll crave all winter long.
Chicken and Rice Soup with Leeks and Mushrooms
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Soups, Stews, and Chilis
2 TBSP olive oil, divided
1 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced 1/4-in. thick, and rinsed thoroughly (If you’re not sure how to clean them, watch this video.)
8 oz. cremini (also called baby bella) mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed, and sliced 1/4-in. thick
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-in. thick rounds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh minced thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, plus more to taste
8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. wild rice
2 TBSP minced fresh parsley
red pepper flakes, for serving, if desired
1. Preheat oven to 375º F. Coat chicken thighs with 1 TBSP olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on an unlined rimmed baking sheet. When oven comes to temperature, roast chicken 20-25 minutes on one side. Flip and roast ten minutes more. Set chicken aside to cool, but reserve oil and juices accumulated on the pan.
2. Heat the remaining 1 TBSP olive oil, along with the oil and chicken juices from the baking pan, in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks, mushrooms, and carrots and cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned. Stir in garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, 6-8 minutes more. Stir in the rice, cover, and simmer gently until the rice is tender, 50-60 minutes (depending on cooking directions on rice package).
4. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken and shred the meat. Add to the soup, once the rice has cooked, and heat through, approximately 5 minutes.
5. Remove the soup from the heat, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with red pepper, if desired.
yield: 6 servings