Chicken and Wild Rice Soup: Success…with a few tweaks

Quick update: It’s still cold. 27 as I write this. Remember, I’m in Florida. 27 is the apocalypse. Just look at how my dog is getting around this morning (note he’s sacrificed mobility for warmth).

On to the food now.

I do everything I can to avoid pre-packaged food when I cook. Now, don’t get me wrong. I get its function, and I actually even really like the taste of much of it. Take RiceARoni, for instance. I’m not serving it to family or friends, nor do I keep it around. That’s not to say, though, I might not pull out a box for a lazy (or busy) evening alone. The same is true for boxed macaroni and cheese (Annie’s is a shameless favorite).

However, when I’m cooking something, I go out of my way to take the long way around and avoid spice packets, seasoning pouches, or anything in a can. That’s why I struggled with this Copycat Panera Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup recipe a bit before diving in.

As you can see in the ingredients, it calls for this:

Yeah, see, that’s not happening on my watch.

Luckily, the recipe author, Raquel Grinnell, acknowledges this.

I’d like to believe by “cannot,” she means “will not.” I’m not cooking the veggies any longer because I don’t particularly like them soft, but the rest of that made me feel more at least a little more at ease about making this. In an ideal world, I’d have gotten rid of the spice packets altogether, but since this was a first time recipe, I had to follow my rule and do it according to the directions.

Was it a success? Click below to find out.

My brother and I playing with staging where we don’t have the right lighting set up. Please allow me to distract you from the glare with cooking tips.

So was it a success then? It looks like one, right? Read on.

Mystery Herbs

I followed this mostly to the letter, with a couple exceptions like using the surmountable tragedy of RiceARoni long grain and wild rice with herbs instead of the full blown tragedy that is “quick-cooking rice dishes.”

I used two packages because I could only find a 4.3 oz. rather than the 6 oz. called for in the recipe. This meant two seasoning packets and extra rice, though, so I called that a win.

My next step was to try and figure out the “herbs” vaguely indicated on the package in case you want to go fully away from the boxed stuff (and for next time, when I do). I was able to identify a few:

  • chicken bouillon
  • thyme
  • garlic
  • onion
  • oregano

With a little internet research, I found there may or may not be basil, lemon pepper, and turmeric. I settled for making it according to Raquel and adding anything else later if needed.

When later came, I needed thyme and garlic. That’s it so good on ya, RiceARoni!

Changes to the Chicken

Another change I made was cooking the chicken in the broth first. The recipe starts with it cooked and diced already, but, of course, my chicken is not magic and therefore did not cook itself while I was at the store (if I figure out how, I’ll let you know).

Side note: Anyone else still have these? If so, click the pic and enjoy the rabbit hole.









When it was finished in the broth, I cubed it and followed the rest of the instructions related to the chicken (see the recipe link above).

Meanwhile, Mom cut up the veggies.

Thanks, Mom!

Here are a few more pictures of the steps and a bit of advice. Otherwise, this is super simple, and it really does taste like Panera’s version…only worlds better because it’s guaranteed to be fresh.

Also, if you’re near a Publix, this is a pretty close cousin to their version, too.

Cooking the vegetables and roux

The vegetables may or may not take the full time indicated in the recipe. It depends on how you like them. For us, we aren’t wild on the soft and mushy soup veg, so I sautéed these for about half the time it says overall. The onions got softer than the carrots and celery, which is fine because their main function, as far as I’m concerned, is flavor, not crunch.


After creating a roux with a flour and pepper mix, you’ll slowly add the cream. This is how it starts to look. It’s a bit thick, but don’t panic. Things change when the two pots are combined.


As I said, things change. Again, don’t panic. For the first few minutes after you combine the two pots, you’ll have a relatively thin broth. As it cooks together, though, things will thicken up to the consistency you know and love from Panera or Publix.

The thickness can be adjusted in this recipe. If you like it thinner, add a bit more broth as it cooks. We prefer it thick and creamy (you really should, too, but I won’t judge if you don’t).

If and only if, after some time cooking, your soup doesn’t thicken (!!), you can do this:

  • Mix a small amount of corn starch into a cup of water (about 1 part corn starch to two parts water, in my experience).
  • Put about a teaspoon of that mix into the soup and stir.
  • Wait.
  • If it doesn’t show any signs of thickening in a couple minutes, add another teaspoon.
  • Stir.
  • Wait.
  • Whatever you do, however, DO NOT pour the whole cup of corn starch and water into the soup. Also, don’t put powdered corn starch directly into the soup. With corn starch, a little goes a long way.

Serve! Enjoy! Stay warm!

We grabbed some Publix mountain bread to serve with it, but later, it dawned on us that we could have driven right through good ol’ Panera and picked up a multigrain baguette to complete the illusion.

Of course, that means we could have just picked up a bucket of the soup, too.

Still accepting your comfort food suggestions below.




One Reply to “Chicken and Wild Rice Soup: Success…with a few tweaks”

  1. Wow that wass unusual. I just wropte an extremely long comment butt after I cllicked submit my comment didn’t show up.

    Grrrr… well I’m not writing alll that over again.
    Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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