Does anyone out there not love Panera? Come on, be honest. I remember when they opened, and Cat and I used to go there in high school. They have this wonderful house latte that has honey in it- honey in coffee is delicious, who knew!? One time at Panera we saw Tayshaun Prince, who plays for the Detroit Pistons (we also once ran into Chauncey Billups, in Denver at Verizon, and I may or may not have memorized his cell phone number).
But seriously, let’s get back to soup, my favorite subject. Panera has some excellent soups, I’m willing to admit it, you can too. One day a few years ago I had the bad idea of looking online to find out how much fat was in one of my favorite Panera soups. Turns out- it’s A LOT. I don’t know what kind of delicious things they put in those soups, but I was sure I could make a delicious soup with much less fat.
This soup is exactly that. The best part is that there are even more fat trimming trickery that I could have used, and didn’t have to. I will add those at the bottom, but after putting this through a recipe calorie counter, it has almost ½ the fat of the Panera version. Homemade soup is always the best…but I’ll still sometimes eat at that other place. This is chicken and wild rice soup, it is hearty and creamy and flavorful and perfect for a cold winter night. I love a soup that is hearty enough to be a meal on it’s own and this is definitely that.
2 cups wild rice
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup flour
6 cups chicken stock, unsalted
3 cups shredded chicken
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp seasoned salt
1 cup ½ and ½ or heavy cream
Heat 1 Tbs of the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Saute until the onion is tender. Add the spices and toast for 1 minute. Add the additional Tbs of olive oil and the flour, cook for one minute stirring frequently. Add the broth and reduce the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes until it is slightly thickened.
While the soup cooks, cook the rice according to package directions. I generally use at least some broth or stock while cooking rice to add more flavor, but whatever you want to do is fine.
When the soup has thickened, add the shredded chicken and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Before serving add the cream (or ½ and ½) and stir to combine. I usually taste at this stage and add more spices if needed. At this point you can either add all the rice if you are serving all the soup to a crowd, or add a large spoonful to each bowl and top it with the soup. The rice absorbs a lot of liquid and it will get mushy when you reheat it if you add it all now.
A few notes:
Mushrooms would be a wonderful addition to this. However, the boyfriend isn’t a big fan. I should have added them anyway- if you are going to add them I would recommend about 8 oz.
We used shredded chicken that I had roasted the night before. Any kind of chicken will do, or even turkey (hello Thanksgiving leftovers).
Try to get all wild rice. Some grocery stores will try and trick you with blends. The thing about other types of rice is that they have been stripped of their hull, and the texture just isn’t the same. There is a time and a place for all kinds of rice, but try to use ALL wild rice in this soup.
Oh did you want know more about the fat trickery? Use a can of nonfat evaporated milk. Or steam cauliflower and puree it and add that. There are a million little tricks to use- but cream or ½ and ½ are going to give you the best mouthfeel and flavor, it’s just a fact. I significantly reduced the amount that a lot of recipes called for, but feel free to use the other suggestions if you are looking for an even lower fat version
PS- according to Panera, their soup has 17g of fat per serving, and according to my calculations based on a 12 oz serving, mine has 6.9g. So yes, this is still not a soup you should eat every day, but it’s a much healthier alternative and is super satisfying and filling.