This soup is one I’ve made twice in the last week. Once to share with others as we celebrated the birthday of a friend and then again to tweak it just a touch and take pictures in the daylight. Last night, we contemplated going out for dinner, but in anticipation of a Friday-night-after-Valentine’s Day restaurant rush, feasting on leftovers at home seemed a more sensible option. One last bowl remained in the pot that I had lazily placed on the top shelf of the refrigerator. It had been 3-4 days since I’d made the soup, and I’d either forgotten how delicious it was or assumed that its lack of perfect freshness would somehow hinder the experience. My feelings toward it were neutral; I was hungry, and it would fill the void. That’s all the consideration it received.
Two minutes in the microwave on high and dinner was served. Our meal was haphazard with us all eating different things and in different locations. My focus was on the kids and my husband as we chatted after a long day, yet in spite of the detachment with which I was eating, the soup grabbed my attention. I noticed the comfort I felt as I drank the warm broth that had been infused with my favorite herb, and the flavors, while simple, boldly presented themselves. Knowing that I was filling my body with nourishing fuel was an added encouragement. This is one soup we’ll be keeping around for a long time.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- Kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ¼ cups dry brown rice or brown and wild rice blend
- 7-8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 cups sliced fresh white button mushrooms or other variety
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (leftover roast chicken would be perfect here)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat, then add the olive oil, onion, and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more.
- Pour the chicken stock into the pot along with the bay leaf and brown rice. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally, then cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Add in the thyme sprigs and sliced mushrooms, then stir to combine. Return the lid to the pot and simmer the soup for 20 more minutes until the mushrooms and rice are tender. (Feel free to increase the heat temporarily if needed to return the mixture to a boil, then again reduce it to low for the simmer.)
- At this point the soup is all but done. Add the shredded chicken, another pinch of salt and a generous amount of black pepper, then taste and add a little more seasoning if needed until the flavors pop.
- Fish out the bay leaf and thyme stems and discard. Serve.