When soul-soothing warmth, healthy meals, and dead-easy, hands-off cooking is in order, this Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup delivers.
This Crockpot Chicken and Rice Soup is filling and tastes clean and light. It’s exactly the sort of meal I need when the calendar tells me it should be one season (spring, where art thou?) but the scene outside my window (ahem, BRRRR) depicts another.
I made a big pot (er, slow cooker) of this Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup last week, on what turned out to be an unseasonably cold and blustery day. Ben and I brought it over to our friends’ for dinner, and the four of us sat cozied around their coffee table, balancing hot bowls of soup and thick slices of buttery bread on our laps.
Simple, unfussy, no tablecloths: an utterly perfect atmosphere to highlight this Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup.
Like my other favorite slow cooker chicken and rice recipe—creamy Crock Pot Chicken and Rice, which is more of a casserole—this unassuming soup is made of a few simple ingredients, the flavor profile is super family-friendly, and it’s guaranteed to be a stalwart, steady addition to your repertoire of go-to healthy meals.
The Most Nourishing Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup
This Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup is wholesome and filling, but it won’t weigh you down. The ingredients key to this balance are:
- Brown Rice. Higher in fiber, protein, and nutrients than white rice, brown rice adds whole grains, and makes recipes like this chicken rice soup (and this Spanish Chicken Stew) more satisfying.
Important Note: You do not need to precook the rice for chicken and rice soup! You can add the uncooked rice to the soup directly (be sure to rinse it first). This no-cook method is actually one of my favorite things about the recipe, because you save a step.
- Chicken. I opted for boneless, skinless chicken breasts because we always have a few in our freezer; boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or a mix of the two) work as well.
To make a more express Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup, you can omit the raw chicken entirely and stir in a shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken at the end instead.
The rotisserie crock pot chicken and rice soup method will save a bit of time because you can shred the chicken in advance while the rest of the soup is cooking; that said, since the chicken is done cooking at the same time as the rice, the time savings is not huge, and I think you’d miss out on some of the additional flavor the chicken adds to the soup while it cooks. I’ll leave the choice up to you!
- Chicken Stock. While this is a broth-based chicken and rice soup, it actually uses chicken stock. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but the method to prepare them is different, as are the results. Compared to chicken broth, chicken stock has a richer flavor and creamier mouth feel. (You can find a full explanation of the differences between stock and broth in my Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup).
You can certainly make this chicken and rice soup with chicken broth if that’s what you have on hand, but the way I tested the recipe (and what I recommend) is to use regular chicken stock, either store bought or homemade.
Craving a creamy chicken and rice soup instead? Check out my crock pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup!
- Fresh Vegetables. I added extra carrots and celery. If you’d like even more vegetables, you can stir frozen peas in at the end as well. The warmth of the crock pot will heat them right up!
- Thyme. A handful of fresh herbs does wonders for a soup’s flavor. It’s really worth it to seek out fresh in this recipe. As a bonus, you can use any leftovers for garnish.
And my favorite extra ingredient…
- LEMON JUICE! A squeeze of fresh lemon at the end lightens and brightens the soup’s flavor. It doesn’t taste overtly lemony, but you’ll notice that the soup’s flavor “pops” more once you stir it in.
If you’d like this recipe to be a true Crock Pot Lemon and Rice Soup, you can certainly add more lemon juice to taste.
Can I Add Rice to my Slow Cooker?
Yes, you can definitely add rice to your slow cooker!
- Can you Put Uncooked Rice in Soup? You can put uncooked rice in soup, and it works best for this specific recipe.
- What Kind of Rice is Used in Soup? The kind of rice used in soup will typically depend on the recipe. For this soup recipe, we are using brown rice.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze Chicken and Rice Soup
- To Store. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- To Reheat. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave. The soup tends to thicken as it sits, so you may want to thin it with additional water or stock as needed. I also find the lemon loses its punch as the soup sits, so feel free to squeeze a little more onto your freshly reheated leftovers too.
- To Freeze. Store cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Even Ben, who typically passes on soup, commented that he’d be happy to eat it again and loved how “meaty” it was.
As the cook in the house, I’m happy to make it again because it is SO EASY and healthy! Every nourishing spoonful feels like a clean eating chicken and rice soup experience, and it leaves you completely satisfied at the end.
Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 medium carrots peeled and 1/4-inch diced, about 2 1/2 cups
- 3 medium celery stalks 1/4-inch diced, about 2/3 cup
- 1/2 medium yellow onion diced, about 1/2 cup
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup brown rice rinsed and drained (do not swap white rice, as it will cook more quickly and become mushy; you can use wild rice with a similar cook time, though the flavor of the wild rice will be stronger and more earthy)
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 6–8 cups chicken stock divided (be sure to use regular chicken stock, not unsalted, or chicken broth)
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme plus additional for serving
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or more to taste (optional)
- Lightly coat a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick pan over medium. Add the carrots, celery, and onion, and cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, salt, and pepper and cook 30 additional seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Add the rinsed brown rice to the slow cooker. Arrange the chicken breasts on top, then pour in 6 cups of the chicken stock. Add the bay leaf and thyme.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or high for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through. To prevent the chicken from becoming dry, check it early. (To check for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer. The chicken is done when it registers 165 degrees F at the thickest part.) If the chicken finishes cooking before the rice, remove it first so that it does not overcook, then re-cover the slow cooker and continue cooking until the rice is tender. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems and discard.
- Place the chicken on a plate or cutting board and let it cool slightly. With two forks or your fingers, shred the chicken, then return it to the slow cooker. Stir in the lemon juice. If you'd like the soup thinner, add additional stock until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve warm, sprinkled with additional fresh thyme.
- Please note that the cook times listed in this recipe can vary depending upon your slow cooker. Mine consistently finishes in this time. Use your best judgement depending upon your slow cooker model. If it is your first time making the recipe, you may want to build in extra buffer time just in case your slow cooker doesn't get as hot as mine and others who see similar cook times.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave. The soup tends to thicken as it sits, so you may want to thin it with additional water or stock as needed. I also find the lemon loses its punch as the soup sits, so feel free to squeeze a little more onto your freshly reheated leftovers too.
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