There’s nothing like a warm Panera chicken and wild rice soup on a rainy evening.
It’s loaded with chunks of savory chicken, sweet vegetables, hearty wild rice, and best of all – a creamy, dreamy, and perfectly seasoned broth.
Easy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
From sandwiches and wraps to soups and bread bowls, Panera never fails to impress.
But among their many offerings, it’s their chicken and wild rice soup that’s made a huge impact on me.
I love it so much that I made it a mission to try and replicate it. Fortunately, it wasn’t that hard.
And call me biased, but I think this copycat recipe is actually better than the original.
Try it and let me know what you think!
Scroll to the bottom of this post for a complete list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions. Here’s what you’ll need, in a nutshell:
- Chicken Broth – The base of the soup.
- Chicken Breasts – I like to use leftover rotisserie chicken for this recipe because it’s less hassle and has more flavor! You can either cube or shred the chicken.
- Long-Grain Wild Rice Blend + Seasoning Packet – You’ll need both the rice and the seasoning packet. Ben’s Rice works wonderfully well here.
- Ground Black Pepper – A little bit of spice goes a long way.
- All-Purpose Flour – The thickening agent that makes the broth rich and creamy.
- Butter – for sauteing the vegetables and for creating a roux – a mixture that thickens soups and stews – together with the flour.
- Carrot, Celery, Onion – Called mirepoix, this trio of vegetables is a wonderful flavor base for many soups, stews, and sauces.
- Light Cream – For an extra creamy broth.
How to Make Panera Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Ready to make chicken and wild rice soup that’ll rival Panera’s? Follow these simple steps:
1. Whisk together pepper and flour. This will be your thickening agent.
2. Simmer chicken and rice. Combine them in broth and bring to a boil. Set aside.
3. Sauté the veggies. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan and saute the carrots, celery, and onion for 5 minutes. Season with rice seasoning, and saute some more until tender.
4. Make a roux. Add the flour-pepper mix to the vegetables, stirring constantly. Gradually add the cream and whisk until smooth and thick.
5. Combine with chicken and rice. Pour the cream broth into the pot. Cook over medium heat until the rice is cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Serve and enjoy your homemade chicken and wild rice soup!
Tips and Tricks For the Best Soup
Turn your soup into a culinary masterpiece with these tips!
- Use a slurry as a roux alternative. Combine 1-2 tablespoons of flour or cornstarch with some water and mix it into the soup until thick.
- Use leftover rotisserie chicken. While fresh chicken is fine, rotisserie chicken brings extra flavor and is a great way to use leftovers.
- Avoid overcooking the vegetables. Aim for soft yet slightly firm veggies to add texture.
- Opt for lighter cream if preferred. Use light cream, half-light cream, or half milk for a lighter version of the soup.
- Season to your taste. Feel free to add herbs, spices, and seasonings of your choice.
What to Serve with Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
The soup is a complete meal on its own, but these side dishes make a great companion:
Biscuits: Their buttery, flaky texture pairs beautifully with the creamy soup.
Dinner Rolls: Soft and absorbent, they’re perfect for sopping up every last bit.
Jennifer Aniston Salad: A fresh, crisp salad adds a light contrast to the rich soup.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich: The gooey, melty cheese complements the soup’s warmth and heartiness.
Or, for a fun twist, ladle the soup into a bread bowl for a charming, edible presentation!
Personalize your chicken and wild rice soup with these variation suggestions:
- Mix up the meats: Add shredded turkey, sliced ham, or bacon bits for a flavorful change.
- Explore grain options: Try regular rice or orzo pasta instead of wild rice, and tweak the cooking time as needed.
- Go gluten-free: Opt for gluten-free flour and chicken stock for a gluten-sensitive diet.
- Richer and creamier: Swap in heavy cream for a more indulgent texture.
- Turn up the heat: Sprinkle with red pepper flakes or paprika for extra spice.
- Match Panera’s hue: Add a touch of turmeric towards the end for that signature yellow color.
How to Store
Got leftovers? Here’s the best way to store and freeze your soup.
To Store: Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To Freeze: Transfer the soup to Ziploc bags. That way, you can lay them flat on the freezer and stack them on top of each other.
You can freeze the soup for up to 3-4 months.
To Reheat: Let the soup thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave the next day.
You can also place the sealed soup bag in warm water to defrost it much faster.
If the soup has thickened too much, thin it out with chicken broth, water, or milk.
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