This chicken soup with pasta and rice is simple and comforting. Whether you’re under the weather or just looking for a simple meal, the combination of homemade broth, tender pasta, rice, and wilted spinach is certain to satisfy.
Drew Smith’s chicken soup with pasta and rice starts with an umami-rich broth, made by gently poaching a chicken with leeks and mushrooms. Building on that and adding buttery rice and silken baby spinach, this is a well-balanced, delicious, and deeply comforting bowl of sustenance. And since the recipe makes more broth than you’ll need, you can freeze it so you’ll have it on hand for cold and sniffle season emergencies.–Jenny Latreille
Chicken Soup With Pasta and Rice
For the poached chicken broth (or substitute good-quality store-bought chicken broth)
- One small (3 1/2 pound) whole chicken
- 3 medium (1 1/2 lbs) leeks trimmed and sliced into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
- 2 medium (12 oz) carrots trimmed and peeled
- 7 ounces button mushrooms cleaned
Make the poached chicken broth (optional)
- Pull out a large stock pot, place the chicken inside, and cover with 1 gallon of cold water. Turn heat to high and bring to a simmer.
- When the water starts to bubble, tuck the leeks, carrots, and mushrooms around the chicken. Reduce the heat, cover, and gently simmer for 45 minutes.
- Take off the heat and let stand until cool enough to handle. Lift the chicken out, carve off the breasts and legs, and reserve them for other uses.
- Pour any accumulated juices back into the broth along with the rest of the carcass. Gently simmer until the flavor develops “umami,” about 50 minutes more. Strain the liquid and refrigerate until required.
☞TESTER TIP: This makes much more stock than you will need for the soup. Freeze any leftover stock to use in soups and sauces.
Make the chicken noodle soup
- Cover the base of a small pot with the rice. Pour in the melted butter and stir in so all the grains are covered.
- Pour in 4 cups of broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
- In a medium pot, cook the pasta separately according to package directions, then drain and add to the soup.
- Swirl in the spinach leaves, and let wilt. Thin with additional stock, if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve and slurp away.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
At the beginning of each fall, I try to pull out my family’s chicken soup recipe and make a giant batch to freeze in small containers in preparation for the inevitable cold/flu that tends to haunt me every winter. To me, my family’s recipe for slowly simmered chicken soup is the epitome of Jewish penicillin. However, after I take the 6-plus hours to make it properly as my grandpa taught me (he would always yell at me when I rushed the process), most of it usually doesn’t make it to the freezer since I just can’t help myself around it. Instead, I end up getting sick in the dead of winter and want nothing more than my family’s chicken soup but can’t bring myself to actually make it and then rely on some lackluster impostor version which never quite cures me the same way.
However, I must say that this version of chicken noodle soup is not only a fantastic short-cut from my family’s all-day version, but the taste is just as satisfying and comforting. The poached chicken liquid broth is very straightforward to make and gets a good amount of chicken flavor in a short period of time. I was thoroughly intrigued by the addition of mushrooms (something my grandpa wouldn’t have approved of) but it did give off another dimension of umami flavor in the broth. I also appreciated the recipe’s generosity of ensuring that the breasts and legs did not end up overcooked by removing them halfway through the process (again, would not be an approved grandpa step). It provided for some great chicken salad sandwiches while the broth was finishing. I ended up with just about a gallon of the broth – just enough to split into smaller containers to go into my freezer for the winter.
The soup itself is easy enough that even on the sickest of days I could muster the energy to make this. No chicken soup is complete without some sort of carb inserted inside. While I will always favour the matzoh ball, they do take forever to make and the last thing I want to deal with when sick. The addition of rice and pasta provides those extra carbs to help fill you up while taking a fraction of the time matzoh balls would. Plus, adding in spinach also gives some extra nutrients to the bowl! My one slight issue with the recipe is that after the rice cooked in the broth, a lot of the broth had been soaked up. After adding the pasta, there was definitely more pasta and rice than there was broth. I added a little more broth at the end with the spinach and the problem was solved. With a nice pinch of kosher salt at the end, this was the perfect bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.
I have definitely found my new go-to soup for when I’m sick!
I’m a faithful believer in a great broth. When you have a great broth on hand you’re a short distance away from something tasty and comforting. My belief was never as strong as when it came to this soup recipe. I looked at the ingredients and thought “this is the chicken version of stone soup”… the critical element here is the broth… I already happened to have a couple of litres of fabulous chicken broth that I knew would save any combination of ingredients.
I was especially nonplussed by the use of both pasta and rice. The spinach was from my garden and so it came in all shapes and sizes. I used 100 g. The coating of the rice in butter felt sneaky as the broth already had some delightful chicken fat. The broth smelled heavenly as it had the previous time I had made soup from that batch.
Twenty minutes later, the rice was tender. I used basmati as the container was almost finished. For pasta, I used Ditali N.45. Cooked that in 10 minutes while the rice was cooking and it was rinsed and ready to add to the soup once the rice was done. In went the spinach. In 30 minutes my soup was on the counter and ready to be photographed. Hmm… I mean, tasted … The recipe didn’t call for salt but I did add some to the pasta water and although the broth was well seasoned, I expected I would have to adjust the final soup but that was not the case.
The flavor was comforting and rich and the pasta/rice combo just felt right. My daughter, who is crazy about both rice and pasta, couldn’t believe her luck. I know the word “chortle” and I know what it means, but I don’t think I’ve actually heard the sound before I gave my daughter this soup… and each spoonful was preceded by a smile. This wasn’t the chicken version of stone soup after all. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking we should call this soup “chicken soup for the overconfident soul”! It felt “healing” just sitting there, with the spinach floating in the bowl. This chicken noodle soup will definitely be making a comeback to our table!
At first glance you think why would you make this soup? It’s just so simplistic, how could you possibly be excited to serve it? But that’s the intriguing part of this soup. I had homemade chicken broth in the freezer so decided I had to see why it would be needing to be reviewed. I used medium grain rice, Hinode. I would use Jasmine next time for a better texture. I used unsalted butter and I found since my broth was not hot when I added it to the rice it took a few more mins to cook the rice to tender. I used broken angel hair pasta and did not salt the water as I felt the “soup” was salty enough without adding salted pasta. The grocery store did not have baby spinach but I cut regular spinach chiffonade-style to match the small grains and noodles.
I was surprised how the bowl was a delightful comforting bowl that did not seem like a soup at all. (And it’s 108°F here today!) I am eager to make this again with the poaching broth recipe that was included in the recipe. I would also make it as fat free as possible so you can fully taste the butter when complete.
I would say you could serve 3 to 4 people if you served it as soup with food. Some might think to add chicken to it but it would be too heavy for it in my opinion. Its beauty is in its simplicity. It will be a very nice, satisfying, quick winter meal that can be ready to enjoy in very little time after work.
Originally published January 20, 2021