Sunday, January 19, 2014

Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This winter has been an especially brutal one compared to the past few years. Seems like it's always either snowing like crazy or freezing to the point where you can throw boiling water into the air and it turns into steam. Google that shit, I'm not making it up! (Sadly, I didn't get to try that trick since I was miserable with a cold during our -50 degree wind chills, but I'll probably get the chance again if I'm "lucky.") Anyway, I don't know about the rest of you, but I firmly believe that winter is the perfect time for comfort food. Well, comfort food is always welcomed, but on a cold, snowy day, there are few things better than a nice, hot bowl of delicious soup. Any kind of soup. Lucky for you, I'm going to share one of my favorite soup recipes. Of course, I found it on Pinterest! As the title implies, it is a crock-pot recipe, so it is actually pretty dang easy! I blame that for my lack of a large number of photos. It basically just sits in the crock-pot, and since the roux is still tricky for me, I didn't want to try and take photos of that. When I make this again, I'll try to get more photos, I promise! Anyway, L just got me a new, bigger crock-pot for Christmas (a 6-quart one, at my request, so no, not some weird gift from a clueless dude;), so I made it for us a couple weeks back. It was even more delicious than I remember. I strongly encourage you to drop everything and make this recipe, especially because it allows for as few or as many modifications as you see fit. Don't like carrots? Don't put 'em in! Recipe doesn't call for them but you love mushrooms? Throw some in the crock-pot! Perfect. I got the original recipe here, and as always, I'll share my own comments and observations throughout. I guarantee you will love me for sharing, even if it's just for how your house smells while it cooks. Enjoy!

 The ingredients!
 Shred up some carrots.
 And dice up some celery.
 Then throw almost all your ingredients (broth, water, chicken, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and rice) into the crock-pot so it can do its magic!
 At the end of the cooking time, make your roux and add it to the crock-pot. Doesn't it look amazing?! Eat. NOW.

  • 4 cups (32 oz.) chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used a 3-pack:).
  • 1 package Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 container of mushrooms (I added this myself. You could use canned mushrooms too. Or you could leave them out entirely if you don't like them since the recipe didn't even call for that.
(Admittedly, based on this recipe, there actually isn't that much rice in this wild rice soup, so while I didn't add more, you could think about it if you prefer more rice. Kinda funny given the name, right?)

  • Mix the broth, water, carrots, celery, mushrooms, chicken, and rice (and the seasoning packet) in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. (I did the high version and it turned out great. Also, the first time I made it, I used a 3-quart crock-pot and it was too small. My 6-quart pot worked beautifully for it!)
  • Once the chicken gets tender (a couple hours in), break it up into pieces while cooking. (I had to leave mine in longer than this for it to break apart easily. Possibly since I used more chicken than it called for, but just use your judgment and feel free to keep the chicken in there longer before breaking it up if necessary.)
  • At the end of the cooking time, get a small bowl and mix the salt, pepper and flour. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Then whisk in the half and half, a little at a time, into the roux until mixed and completely smooth. (This part has given me problems both times. Mine has turned out very clumpy. The first time I put it in the crockpot anyway, hoping the lumps would go away, but they didn't. Ick. The second time, I had a little more success, but there were still several clumps, so I ended up putting a bowl in the sink and straining the liquid into the bowl so I had a smooth mixture. Maybe you'll have better luck, but just wanted to give my tips and tell you that all hope is not lost if it happens to you too!)
  • Stir the roux mixture into the soup in the crock-pot, and then let it cook on low for about 15 minutes.
That's it! The first time I made it, it was really thick, but I think that's because I accidentally used heavy whipping cream instead of half and half. The second time I made it, it was significantly runnier, probably a combo of using half and half, and me straining out many of the flour chunks from the roux. I didn't find it to be too runny. It was actually perfect! If you want it thicker, you could probably add some more flour, and if you want it thinner, you could add a little more broth or some water. All a matter of preference! As usual, the soup didn't last me and L very long because we both love it, but unfortunately, my crock-pot is just a tad too small to double the batch. Guess we'll just have to make it more often! Be prepared to have your tastebuds tantalized, folks! :)

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