This is so much more than a recipe, my friends. This is family history and fond memories all rolled up into a hearty, satisfying bowl. This is us, sitting at a table in a cramped kitchen with Hubby's grandpa years ago, recording a decades-old, but never written-down recipe. Whenever I make this soup, I can picture Grandpa R sitting at the table, gesturing emphatically, sharing the secret to his chicken rice soup. It's all about the rice.
A few weeks ago, I shared on Facebook that I was making this soup, and a cousin of my husband's mentioned that she'd like to have the recipe. As I told her, I can give you the recipe, but no way can I replicate the explanation that went along with it--that exists only in my memory.
This soup is thick and meaty, delicious, and the very definition of comfort food. I hope you like it as much as we do.
First, you need 3 good-sized chicken breasts. Grandpa was talking about whole, bone-in, skin-on, chicken breasts. As in, I would call this 6 breasts, but back in the day, that's how they bought them, still connected to each other. Put them in a big pot, and cover them with water. Bring it to a boil and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.
When the 40 minutes have passed, remove the chicken from the pot, and set aside to cool until it can be handled. SAVE the broth! When the chicken has cooled, remove the skin and bones, and shred the chicken.
Measure how much cooking liquid, or broth, you have, and add canned chicken broth to equal 12 cups. One can of broth equals 2 cups of liquid.
Put the chicken back in the pot with the 12 cups of chicken broth and add 1 c. of finely diced celery and 3/4 c. Uncle Ben's Converted rice. It must be converted, or the soup won't taste nearly as good. Can't be having heathen rice in our soup.
Bring the soup to a boil, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
That's it. I think Grandpa R was a little taken aback that Hubby had even asked for the recipe, it's so simple to make. The house smells heavenly and the memories are sweet when I serve this soup. As you can probably tell from the recipe, this makes a lot--this soup freezes extremely well, and I think it tastes even better the next day.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that sometimes, to bump up the nutrition, and make this a one-pot meal, I add a 1 lb package of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots during the last 10 minutes or so. I have also been known to add 1/2 a cup of raw, chopped spinach to my bowl before ladling in the soup--either way it's delicious, and a tribute to Hubby's much-loved grandparents.
What's your favorite family recipe?