What's better than chicken and wild rice soup? How about a recipe that's loaded with veggies, requires just 20 minutes of prep, and cooks all day in your slow cooker?
In the colder months, chicken soup is my go-to detox meal and comfort food. I want it to be full of nutrient-dense veggies, hearty enough to be a meal on its own, easy to make, and just as delicious the next day (or throughout the week ahead). That's a lot to ask of a recipe, I know.
So, after lots of tinkering, I give you my very own version of slow cooker chicken and wild rice (or barley) soup, which meets all my criteria:
- Lots of veggies (onion, garlic, carrots, celery, dill) ✔️
- Just the right amount of bulk from chicken and wild rice ✔️
- Can be prepped in 20 minutes or less and then left alone in the slow cooker all day until dinnertime ✔️
- Freezes beautifully and won't get gummy if stored in the fridge (rice and barley don't bloat up the soup like noodles do) ✔️
Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice Soup FAQs
Yep. Just leave out the rice, cook your noodles separately, and stir them into the soup before serving.
Wheat berries make an excellent substitute for rice in this recipe; just swap them in and follow the recipe as written. Or, you can cook quinoa separately and stir it in before serving.
Bone-in chicken takes longer to cook than boneless, which means that the chicken can slow cook for 8 hours on low without getting too dry.
Yes! Transfer the wild rice and chicken soup to airtight containers, let it cool to room temperature, then seal and freeze for up to 3 months.
This soup is a complete meal all on its own, but if you want a heartier dinner or lunch, serve it with bread or toast and a salad on the side.
Slow Cooker Wild Rice and Chicken Soup
- 6-quart slow cooker
- Cutting board and knife
- 1½ cups uncooked wild rice blend (or barley/wheat berries)
- 3 pounds bone-in chicken breast and/or thighs, skin removed (I used 1½ pounds chicken thighs and 1½ pounds chicken breast)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 4 medium carrots, diced (1½ cups)
- 4 celery ribs, diced (1½ cups)
- 8 cups (2 quarts) low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups frozen peas
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
- Measure the wild rice into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly under cool running water.
- In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine the chicken, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, rice, broth, water, bay leaves, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir just to distribute all the ingredients and seasonings, then cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir in the frozen peas.
- Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a cutting board, remove the meat from the bones, and shred or chop it into bite-size pieces.
- Return the shredded or chopped chicken to the slow cooker, add the dill, lemon juice, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, and stir until everything is evenly distributed. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as desired.