The Best Chicken Soup with Rice, Carrots, and Kale

The Best Chicken Soup with Rice, Carrots, and Kale
Packed with vegetables and bulked up with rice, this restorative chicken soup recipe is a keeper.Jenny Huang

While you can customize this homemade chicken broth with odds and ends you have lying around (I’ll occasionally use a fresh fennel frond or a few celery leaves), restricting it to a few well-chosen vegetables makes for a sweet, consistent soup. You can make this soup up to Step 4, then refrigerate it overnight or freeze it up to a few months if desired before proceeding. Save the bones of a roast chicken or look for frozen chicken bones at a butcher or near the meat counter at your grocery store. If you can’t find chicken bones, you can also add a turkey wing to the stock for extra flavor.

What You Will Need

The Best Chicken Soup with Rice, Carrots, and Kale
Tomato paste and fish sauce add depth and umami to our best-ever chicken-and-rice soup studded with sweet carrots and silky kale.
Yield: serves 4-6
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (about 4¼ lb.), skin removed
  • Neck and back bones of 1 additional chicken (optional)
  • 1 lb. carrots (about 5 medium-large), peeled, ends trimmed
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved through the stem
  • 1 small head of garlic, top ½ inch cut off
  • 20 black peppercorns, plus freshly ground black pepper for serving
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt
  • 34 cup brown or white rice
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 14 tsp. Asian fish sauce
  • 3 cups finely torn or chopped Tuscan kale (from about 1 bunch)
  • Finely grated Pecorino Romano and crushed red chile flakes, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a stockpot or large pot, add the chicken, bones (if using), carrots, onion, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt. Add just enough water to cover the chicken, about 11 cups (add a little more only if needed). Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a moderate simmer. Cook, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface, until the broth is richly flavored and the carrots are fully tender, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  2. Set a fine-mesh strainer over another large pot or a large heatproof bowl that can fit at least 10 cups. Strain the broth. Let the solids rest in the strainer until they’re cool enough to handle.
  3. Meanwhile, make the rice: In a small pot, add rice, 1½ cups water, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a strong simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a very low simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the water is fully absorbed and the grains are tender, about 15 minutes for white rice and 20 minutes for brown. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest, covered.
  4. Using your fingers, pull the chicken meat from the bones, prioritizing the meat you like best (you may have some left over) and shredding it into small strands. Transfer the carrots to a medium bowl and smash into bite-size chunks with the back of a fork (you will have about 2¼ cups). Add the carrots and 2¼–2½ cups of chicken back to the pot with the broth. (Reserve any remaining chicken for another use.) Retrieve the garlic and squeeze the cloves into the broth, if desired. Stir in the tomato paste and fish sauce until incorporated.
  5. When ready to serve, bring the soup back up to a gentle simmer. Gently fluff the rice with a fork, then stir it into the broth. Add the kale and cook until the rice is warmed through and the kale is just wilted but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt as needed.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top generously with pepper, Pecorino Romano, and red chile flakes to taste.