Monday, November 6, 2017

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

First of all, we have a cover reveal!

This is the cover for my next Love Inspired Historical, coming out in March 2018. This story is one that practically wrote itself. I loosely based the hero 's character on my grandfather. Since he passed away before I was born, I never met him. But I knew his story, and I've read some of the diaries he kept as a young man. I love this story, and I hope you do, too! It's available for pre-order from Amazon. Just click here. :)

Now, on to the recipe. Today I'm sharing a copycat recipe.

What's a copycat recipe? That's where a talented person takes your favorite dish from your favorite restaurant and re-creates it for the home cook. Most of these recipes are close to the restaurant original. Not quite the same, but they do help satisfy cravings!

Several years ago, I shared a copycat recipe from Olive Garden...I still love this soup! You can find the recipe here.

Today, I'm sharing a copycat from another one of my favorite restaurants - Panera.

When we first moved here, the closest Panera was a 5 1/2 hour drive away. :(  But now there's one less than 10 minutes from my house! It doesn't get much better than that. :)

Except that going out for lunch every day is a bit spendy, both in time and in cash, so I like having this soup waiting for me in the freezer.

I make this soup in my Instant Pot, but I'm including "top of the stove" directions, too!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup


1/2 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 Tablespoon oil or butter - I use coconut oil, but you can use your favorite
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
32 ounces broth - chicken or vegetable
2 cups water
2 cups milk - divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried organo
1 bay leaf
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1/3 cup flour
1 box (approx. 6 ounces) Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice, original 
salt and pepper to taste

On the Stove:

In a six-quart Dutch oven or 6-8 quart stock pot, saute the onions, carrots, celery in the oil or butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

Add the garlic, broth, water and 1 cup of milk and stir.

Add the pepper, oregano, bay leaf, and chicken.

Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Whisk together the remaining 1 cup milk and the 1/3 cup flour. Add to the soup and stir until combined.

Add the long grain and wild rice, with the seasoning packet, to the soup and let simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

In the Instant Pot:

If you don't have cooked diced chicken, you can use your Instant Pot to cook it quickly. Place 1 or 2 (depending on size) frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the Instant Pot with one cup of the broth. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, and use the natural pressure release (15 to 20 minutes more). Remove the chicken and reserve the broth in a separate bowl.

Put the tablespoon of oil in the Instant Pot and use the saute setting to cook the onions, carrots and celery until the onion is translucent.

Add the garlic, broth, water, and 1 cup milk and mix.

Add the pepper, dried oregano, bay leaf, and diced chicken. Seal the Instant Pot and pressure cook on low for 5 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally (5-10 minutes). Once the pressure is released, change the setting to slow cook until 20-30 minutes before serving.

Before serving, whisk the 1/3 cup flour into the second cup of milk and add to the soup. Add the long grain and wild rice with the seasoning packet, and stir. Cook on low saute for 20 minutes . Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you've been reading carefully, you'll notice that in this recipe the Instant Pot requires more steps and can take longer to cook. So what is the advantage? For me, it's the ability to switch from saute, to pressure cook, to slow cook, and back to saute. This means that I can start the soup when I have time (in the morning, during lunch, or during my afternoon break), and then finish it up just before supper.

And when I'm on a deadline, that versatility is golden!!!

Speaking of deadlines, my current one is in nine days. I won't even tell you how many words I have left to go! But I am on target, and should finish in time.

But writing is hard work, and I'm sure the other authors here at the Cafe will agree with me! After a long day at the computer, my little gray cells are begging for relief.

For me, the best cure for my overworked brain is counted cross stitch. After a day of taxing my creativity, counted cross stitch allows me to use someone else's ideas, someone else's design. I don't have to think. I just follow directions.

This is one of my current projects. An hour spent lost in these colors refreshes and recharges my creativity like nothing else!

And what will this beautiful piece look like when if it gets done?

To learn more about this design, go to A Stitching Shelf

I have finished three pages out of the 184 pages in this design. If you look carefully, you can see the three pages I've done in the top left-hand corner. Call me crazy. My husband says I'll never finish it, and he might be right. At my stitching pace it takes me about two months to do one page. Do the math. I won't finish this until I'm ninety years old.

So why do I do this???

It's the process. Tiny stitches, one at a time, add up to make a beautiful design and recharges my creative energy for another day of writing.

And I do have hope that my stitching speed will increase. A lot of people can finish a page in a week or two!

To get a glimpse of why this style of counted cross stitch has become such an addiction for me, visit the Heaven and Earth Designs website, But beware. You just might find a design you can't live without!

What is your favorite way to recharge your creative energy?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. Jan, this soup sounds absolutely delicious. And I think I'm in awe of your needlework skills. My middle daughter does a lot of needlepoint, but I just don't have the patience these days. Though I definitely can relate to the idea of creating with someone else's design, having things laid out for you so there's no thinking involved. Sometimes, like after a long day of writing, you just don't want to expend anymore brain cells.

    I'm saving this recipe for our next cool snap.

    1. We're having your cold snap up here today! This will be our first day of the winter that the temps don't go above freezing...and we're having this soup for supper again tonight. Leftovers are the best!

      And I've been cross stitching for more than 35 years - love it. I put it away for several years (toddlers, moving, and homeschooling took precedence), but started up again about 10 years ago. :)

  2. Jan, I love this soup from Panera! I'm so glad to have the copycat recipe! Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely try it in the Instant Pot since I never remember to thaw things out. :)

    I used to do counted cross-stitch. I don't know if I ever did finish anything. But I sure did love the process. I should try it again while I'm relaxing at night.

    1. I haven't met a Panera soup I didn't like! Have you tried their Autumn Squash soup? Yum!!!

  3. My favorite way to recharge my energy is by making photos. I've had lots of interests and hobbies through the years but this is easy and quick.
    Thanks for sharing that recipe. I really sounds good.

    1. Hi Brenda!

      An easy and quick hobby is great - and photography can be so creative.

      I hope you enjoy the soup!

  4. I am gobsmacked by that stitching.... and 184 pages, hmm???

    OH MYLANTA, GIRLFRIEND!!!! I can see the tranquility of it. I really can.

    Kind of.

    If I imagine myself on a summer porch, overlooking kids playing and corn growing.

    But my NY side is possibly screeching. :) I'm taming her, tamping her down so that she's politely correct on the internet, LOL!

    What beautiful work, though.

    Bless you.

    Now I want chicken soup!

    1. Oh, that summer porch! Put the stitching away until winter!

      But imagine it's a stormy November evening (not a long stretch for us!) and you're sitting next to your wood stove, needle in hand, listening to an audio book, and taking one colorful stitch at a time. :) Yup. A peaceful wintertime feeling isn't it?

      And come on over. We're having leftover chicken soup tonight!

  5. My daughter Beth did counted cross stitch for a long time. So many pretty things. Now with four kids, none of this is going on in her life, but this made me think of that... and the sweet gifts she made for people. It made them smile!

    1. She might get back to it someday. I didn't start up again until our youngest was almost ten...her littlest has a few years to go. :)