Quick Chicken and Rice Soup (“In January It’s So Nice…”)


In January it’s so nice
While slippin’ on the slidin’ ice
To sip hot chicken soup with rice
Sippin’ once, sippin’ twice
Sippin’ chicken soup with rice..

Book-Nutshell Lib

Lyrics (original text) by Maurice Sendak.  Music by Carole King, Really Rosie. (Click here to listen.)  First published in the book Chicken Soup with Rice, part of the Nutshell Library.


As a student in library school, I once was in charge of a weekend seminar about famed children’s author, Maurice Sendak and have ever more been a fan. This has come up on the blog a time or two, but I’m not embarrassed to bring it up once more. Especially if it’s January and freezing out there.  Like in these pics I took this morning.

My most recent chicken and rice soup could be for the person who’s really in a hurry for a hot dinner on a cold night or is cooking for someone with a grumbly tummy or maybe a bad cold.  Healthy adults will be happy, too, and won’t blow their after-holiday diet. Little ones won’t find much to object to here as the flavors are nourishingly gentle and mild. Gluten-Free cooks who miss old-fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup might make this any time of the year.


No need to spend all day at the stove.  This is done very quickly (45 minutes for me) and is a good bowl to cuddle up under a blanket with. (Yes, I know I ended the sentence with a preposition.)



4-6 servings

This fast, comforting light soup made with chicken thighs creates its own broth in the time it takes to cook the chicken, vegetables, and rice. Leave the chicken pieces whole for a more rustic bowl or remove them and shred at the end while the rice cooks. Try to avoid using breasts, but if it’s all you have, do make sure and take them out while the rice cooks, adding them in again when the rice is tender.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs–5 or 6 thighs (I like the thighs with bones and skin here, but boneless would be fine, too.)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground white or black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each ground dry sage and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced (or 1 medium onion, chopped)
  • 3 each celery stalks and large carrots, trimmed or peeled and sliced
  • 1 Fennel bulb, sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 quart (4 cups/32 ounces) chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 quarts water (8 cups/64 ounces)  water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • Sliced scallions, garnish
  • Lemon wedges, garnish

1. In a heavy 8 or 10-quart soup pot, heat oil over medium flame and add chicken. Season chicken with 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, a generous pinch (1/8 teaspoon) crushed red pepper, sage, thyme, and bay leaf.  Brown chicken and turn. As the second side browns, and add leeks or onion, celery and carrots, fennel (if using), and parsley.  Cook, stirring regularly, until vegetables begin to soften–about 10 minutes.

2. Pour in broth and water; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees F) and vegetables are tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  If desired,  remove chicken pieces, let cool briefly, remove skin, bone, and chop or shred while the rice cooks. Or leave them as is and serve them whole in the soup.

3. Bring to a boil once more and add rice. Turn down heat, cover and simmer  gently until rice is just barely done. Taste and adjust seasonings again. Return chicken to pot  and heat through if you have removed them. Skim fat off the top of the broth if desired.

4. Serve hot garnished with chopped scallions and/or a squeeze of lemon.  Whoever gets the bay leaf has to do the dishes.

Cook’s Note:  For grumbly tummies and/or for younger kiddoes, you might want to leave off the lemon and/or raw scallions.  Grownups with colds will probably be grateful for them.



Stay warm as you sing a new song,


One thought on “Quick Chicken and Rice Soup (“In January It’s So Nice…”)

  1. Pingback: Chicken and Vegetables | More Time at the Table

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