chicken, leek, and rice soup

I hope nobody you know is sick right now. I hope it’s, at worst, a common cold, common boredom bred by self-quarantine, or a stubbed toe because you tried some ridiculous workout video you found online. Or, if you’re me, last week, after yet another thing fell out of my chaotic freezer onto my foot (I don’t even get to blame “fitness”) I decided to, what’s that word, it feels so unnatural to type… organize? Right, that. I decided to sift through the freezer and see what was taking up so much space and I realized that Deb Of A Few Months (let’s be honest: probably longer) Ago did a very cool thing and made an excess of chicken stock and froze it in one-quart bags which meant that “wohoo! dinner is sorted!”

what you'll needthinly sliced, never enoughleeks, garlicadd good broth

I’ve published a few chicken noodle soups recipes to date. I’ve got a quite rushed one and a leisurely one for when you want absolute perfection; there’s a grandma-style cozy on in Smitten Kitchen Every Day, my second cookbook, but one thing I’ve not yet covered is the simplest: a chicken soup you make with already-made stock.*

remove the chickenadd the riceshred the chickenreturn the chicken to the pot

Once you have it, things are incredibly easy: quick-cooking but never dry chicken thighs, any rice you have around, and this one leans heavily on leeks, as well. I adore leeks because I love onions and I love green vegetables and they’re halfway between, which means that they do double duty. Here, just a little garlic, sometimes a carrot stick or rib of celery (whatever I have to use up), and a couple big leeks perfume an entire pot of chicken broth that we simmer boneless, skinless chicken thighs in. Pull them out, cook the rice, shred the chicken, add it back and I mean, that’s it, You’re done. You just made soup. You’re pretty amazing, not that I have ever doubted it.

chicken, leek, and rice soup

Three absolutely key things, however, convert this from “uh, you just boiled chicken, leeks, and rice together” into something more dynamic. 1. Salt and pepper (listen to Oprah, guys) — when you’re trying to get simple ingredients to wake up, it matters. Season each addition, each layer of the soup, well and you’ll build a pot with really robust flavor. 2. A finishing trifecta of an herb or herbs of your choice (I show parsley but also like chives and dill, or all three), some hot pepper flakes, lemon zest, and if you wish, juice too. I also love it with a nice dollop of harissa. 3. Considering this a bit of a springboard recipe, with built-in flexibility. If you’re thinking that “a chicken soup without [any ingredient you’re shocked not to see here] just isn’t chicken soup” don’t skip it. It needs to taste like rustic coziness to you above all — I hope it does the trick.

chicken, leek, and rice soup

* Let’s talk about chicken stock: I find store bought chicken stock very uneven; some of it is so excessively chicken-y but not in a way that tastes natural; many are tinny-tasting too. They’re fine, to me, in blended soups or soups with a lot of ingredients (although bouillon paste has always been my favorite, for both space and taste considerations) but I think the broth in chicken noodle soup should taste very real because there’s almost nothing hiding the taste and the only way to do that is to start by making your own.

I, of course, have a recipe for that. But even if you don’t have, say, 3 pounds of chicken wings lying around, I can promise you that if you simmer a chicken carcass from leftover rotisserie with chopped onion, garlic, a bay leaf, a carrot, celery, peppercorns — whatever you’ve got — for 45 minutes and strain it, you’ll need up with something far more delicious than you can get in a box. And you’ll have cleaned out the fridge.



Six months ago: Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
One year ago: Extra-Flaky Pie Crust
Two year ago: Luxe Butterscotch Pudding
Three years ago: Butterscotch Pie
Four years ago: Everyday Meatballs and Roasted Yams and Chickpeas with Yogurt
Five years ago: The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake and Cornmeal-Fried Pork Chops with Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes
Six years ago: Kale and Quinoa Salad with Ricotta Salata
Seven years ago: French Onion Tart
Eight years ago: Multigrain Apple Crisps
Nine years ago: Pina Colada Cake and Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers
Ten years ago: Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze and Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
Eleven years ago: Devil’s Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks and Red Kidney Bean Curry
Twelve years ago: Greens, Orzo and Meatball Soup and Big Crumb Coffee Cake
Thirteen years ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Loaf

Chicken, Leek, and Rice Soup

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

Use any kind of rice you have, but adjust the cooking time as directed on the package for stovetop cooking.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot stick, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice (I used jasmine)
  • Big handful chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, and dill are favorites here)
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Red pepper flakes (I’m using Aleppo, which is milder) or harissa

Heat olive oil or butter over medium-high heat in a 4- to 5-quart pot. Add leeks, celery, and carrot (if using), salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until leeks have softened a bit, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add broth, water, and chicken plus salt (I use 2 to 3 teaspoons of additional kosher salt for barely-salted stock) and many grinds of black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover, simmering for 15 minutes, until chicken is very tender and cooked through. Remove chicken with tongs and set on a cutting board. Add rice and return the heat to a low simmer, cover with lid, and cook for 15 minutes, until rice is tender. Use two forks to shred chicken into bite-sized pieces and return to the soup to rewarm. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Ladle soup into bowls and finish with some herbs, lemon zest, red pepper flakes (or harissa), and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Note: Rice continues to expand in soup so the longer you have the soup sitting, the more porridge-y it will seem.

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191 comments on chicken, leek, and rice soup

  1. Caroline

    This is my favorite thing! We are making a big, cozy batch of our own version tonight– you know, anti-anxiety measures. Will need to try this (LOVE the leek addition) soon.

  2. Monica

    Hi! This looks simple and cozy and just right.

    (I think you meant end* up instead of need up at the end. Apologies if this is obnoxious)

    Thanks for a lovely soup recipe!

    1. JP

      So pretty with those leeks to make it look like Spring! I hope your readers remember to very carefully clean the leeks because nothing would be worse than finding grit in the last serving! Such a good time for soup because it looks like we’ll be getting quite a bit of rain in the next few days. So thanks!

    2. Molly

      Great recipe! I made it with your chicken meatballs (without the pancetta) because the only meat my grocery store had was ground chicken and ribs. It still turned out well but it was more work. Sorry if this posts multiple times, but it keeps saying I failed to post.

  3. I don’t think you are being obnoxious Monica, Deb likes to get things right, and is always kind to volunteer proof readers – and here’s another….

    They’re find, to me, in blended soups////

    Don’t you mean “They’re fine, to me, in blended soups

    Eager to make this!

  4. Nancy

    Asian rice porridge? Best weekend hot breakfast OR best when you have a cold. You can also do this in a pressure cooker.

  5. KarenMac

    Made this for supper tonight. I’ve never been able to master Chicken soup until tonight. My husband loved the flavours, my boys ate it which is high praise. Will definitely make this again!

  6. Mehek

    Hey Deb- I’m commenting from Seattle and things are certainly crazy around here. Right now I think everyone is just doing their best to stay healthy and slow the spread, but we’re all a bit stir crazy. Will definitely be making some recipes I’ve had my eye on for a while to keep me occupied! Thanks, as always.

  7. meld193

    Good morning – I’ll be making this soup over the weekend but had a question regarding chicken bouillon. Can you recommend a brand that you prefer? Thank you!

    1. deb

      Yes, whoops, forgot to link it: I love Better Than Bouillon brand (not sponsored, of course). I keep one of each in the fridge; they’re good for (I think) a year. I have the chicken, the beef, the vegetable, I use the turkey around Thanksgiving, and I recently bought a no-chicken base that’s also a vegetable but has a cozy chicken soup vibe (but no artificial chicken flavor, thank goodness). Only thing to keep in mind is that they run quite salty so you might less added salt in recipes.

      1. Ellen

        Definitely would second the praise for Better Than Bouillon.
        Also want to shout-out the Grandma-Style Chicken Noodle Soup from the S.K. Everyday cookbook. It’s delicious.

      2. Michelle

        Do you think this translates to instant pot cooking? I was thinking of pressure cooking the chicken first after sauteeing veggies/adding broth then removing chicken to shred while pressure cooking rice. My thighs are bone in which is why I thought to use the ip– bones just slip away from meat in very little time vs simmering longer on the stove top.

      3. Tigerlily971

        Hi Deb, I just bought the mushroom flavor to add to my collection and it’s really good too. It adds a nice earthy flavor without the texture of shrooms, which some don’t like.

    2. Cornelis Brandt

      I have been using Better than Bouillon from Costco for many years. Noticed just today that they are stocking the vegetable low sodium organic again. Been only beef and chicken for many years.

    3. Courtney

      Ohhh myyy god (Chandler from “Friends”)- this was AMAZING. I expected it to be good. But it was great. I used Swanson organic stock and it was great. Three bone-in chicken thighs and just shredded off the bone. Used dried parsley and dried dill because it’s what I had. Didn’t have celery so I used 3 carrots. Used Trader Joe’s brown basmati rice, so the cook time was closer to 40 min. Amazing. Wonderful. Making again tomorrow!
      *oh and I forgot the lemon zest, which I’m sure is awesome but without it was still fabulous.

      Deb, you’re my forever hero.

      1. Cindy

        Thanks for the rice info! That TJ’s brown basmati is what we always have on hand so it is good to have a ballpark cook time using it.

  8. julie

    Sounds great… I make all my own soups, usually using turkey wings, which I keep a few of in the freezer. Add celery, garlic, onion, parsley and/or dill, carrots, small white turnip, a small parsnip … finish off with a bit of paprika for color (just like my mother and grandmother) My mother would chop a little more parsley to put in the soup bowl. Lots of vitamins here and pretty to look at..

  9. Erica

    I’ve been buying party packs of organic wings and baking the “drumettes” w/ something saucey (such a fun two-three bites) and slow cooker-ing the “wings” for stock. I just made stock yesterday so of course this recipe is perfect timing. This winter, I’ve been finding comfort in just drinking mugfuls of the virgin broth. It’s good for whatever ails you!

  10. Liz

    You didn’t ask, but I’m going to advise anyway :) “Souper cubes”!! That is a brand but there are other large cube things. The Souper cubes is a 4 x 1 cup silicone freezing tray. So, you freeze whatever, and then you have 1 cup rectangles which store nicely in a Ziploc or silicone bag or ??? The main thing is that they store nicely in the freezer, because most freezers are square/rectangle – ish. And so they stack better, etc., etc. and Food52 sells them also. I’ve had mine for almost a year and freeze: rice, beans, shredded chicken, ground meats (raw and cooked), tomato sauce (no staining!), all kinds of broths. I am a 1 human house so maybe 1 cup seems small but the size makes things easy to quickly thaw. For example, rice: I put a “cube” in a pan with a bit of water, heat on low and I have nicely steamed rice in 15-20 minutes. I wax on …

    1. Emily

      I have this question, too! In the picture it looks like all of the whites and some of the lighter greens, but not the super dark green? But Deb, can you offer us some more guidance on this front?

  11. Edsel

    ” yet another thing fell out of my chaotic freezer onto my foot” made me laugh, because the exact thing happened to me earlier when I was trying to find room in mine. And, I’m making chicken stock this weekend from all the frozen chicken carcasses that were apparently the cause of the freezer overcrowding. Perfect timing for chicken soup!

  12. KWade

    Simple and delicious! I just made this tonight, it’s so easy. The only change for me was I had a bone-in breast on hand and no chicken thighs. I just cooked a little longer. I used the Costco brand organic chicken stock. Added lemon & parsley at the end with a drizzle of chili oil. This will be a new comfort food staple.
    Thanks, Deb.

  13. Mal

    Made this tonight! It was a huge hit. I used a mix of parsley and chives and added two extra carrots in an attempt to sneak more veggies in. I’ve got some very picky eaters here, so dark meat was out of the cards, but I did use boneless skinless chicken breasts and it ended up great. I also swapped out the jasmine rice for wild rice to riff on chicken and wild rice soup. 10/10, it’s a new soup staple!

  14. Katie

    This soup is an attitude adjustment in a bowl. North Idaho is cold, windy, snowy, and there is an uncertainty in the world…until you eat this soup!

    I made it exactly as written, adding only the parsley as a post dishing topper. Adding the extra salt was huge with my low sodium broth. It cooks up quick, tastes delicious, and I am in a way better mood now. Thanks!

  15. Kim

    Ummmm… wow. This is so delicious. I made it today and look forward to eating more of it all weekend. Definitely going to be my go-to chicken soup from here on out.

  16. Sheri

    Yes! Thank you for yet another excellent and easy recipe! Made this recipe this morning and just had a cup (or 2) for lunch – delicious!
    I had chicken breasts, no thighs and used wild rice – perfection!
    Can’t wait to eat it warmed up!

  17. Yara

    Made this for lunch today. It is a cold, rainy, sad day here in Northern California. In a difficult time, it was lovely to eat this delicious soup with my family.

    I added more celery and carrot than called for and eight cups of liquid. I like to use Better Than Bouillon, so put in less salt than the recipe calls for. Definitely wash your leeks!

    Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Juan

      Made this for the first time for lunch and it was delicious! I topped it with the red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. It was an amazing explosion of flavors. Will definitively be making this my go to chicken soup. Might try with noodles next time.

  18. Chloe

    Made this tonight, night one of quarantine meals. Only had boneless skinless breasts instead of thighs but they worked out fine. Otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It was delicious.

  19. Tracey Culver

    Deb, I’ll make this tomorrow if I can find chicken thighs in the freezer (I know they’re in there somewhere). Thank you for this recipe, and all the others. I look forward to every email from you, and adore your website.
    Please stay safe in this anxious fragile moment. And it really is only a moment. Be well, dear girl.

  20. Andrea S.

    Made this exactly as written on night #2 of complete shutdown in Maryland. When I mentioned it I got “uh, I guess we can eat leeks” but once it was made everyone loved it! I never thought to add harissa to chicken soup, but it really amped up the flavor. Served with homemade bread (because lots of time in the afternoon) and homemade brownies (because 10 yo was bored). Thanks for another great recipe!! Stay safe and keep washing your hands.

  21. Ellen

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was very good. Used a rotisserie chicken and stock from our freezer, made from the carcass of an earlier rotisserie chicken. Easy to make, and leftovers will be another nice dinner.

  22. jgadda

    Looking forward to making this. Question: since the rice tends to expand and expand, what would be a good way of storing a big batch of this? Save the rice out and add it to one serving at a time?

  23. Angela

    We are hunkering down here in California – it’s cold, cloudy and wet here. Its a perfect soup while we are quarantined from society- I added green onions with the dill to put on top of the soup. I added carrots too- even though the hubby doesn’t like them- he ate them and commented that this soup is “gourmet”.
    Looking forward to cooking more while we are all shut in for now. Stay safe everyone!

  24. I had to get the last remaining bunch of teeny tiny organic leeks because even leeks were sold out at 8 am here in Ontario yesterday, but it was well worth it for this soup. Quick, easy (made the stock in the instant pot from whatever was wilting in my fridge) and so good.

  25. Kat Simonyi

    I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    I love your stock recipe and have been making it for a while now – instead of ZipLoc bags I’ve been filling two silicone, over-sized ice cube trays with the stock (I think each cube is about 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup of a liquid) and letting them freeze overnight. The next morning I pop them out and then put them into a gallon freezer bag and then save them until I need to cook. I especially like having them in smaller portions when I just need a bit of stock for something – to thin out a mash or add flavor to water for cooking something.

    Anyway – thank you for both recipes!

  26. Rebekah

    Hi Deb,
    Thanks for posting. Hope you are staying safe and healthy. I have quite a few potatoes on hand. Can I sub those for the rice? What modification should I make?

    1. deb

      I’d think so. You’ll need less liquid since a lot of it gets absorbed by the rice (1 cup or so). They won’t take long to cook through in chunks.

  27. Jean DeBenedictis

    Is there a way to save recipes on your site? I’d like to be able to store those I’m interested in or have cooked. Also, I don’t see how they could be printed. Thanks

    1. Wendy Frankonis

      Right below the recipe there’s a “do more” line with some icons after it. You can hit the P and pin it to a pinterest board, or there’s a printer icon which allows you to print. Happy cooking!

    2. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template. We will definitely make it easier to find when we next redesign.

      I don’t have a recipe box feature at this time but I’d love to add it one day.

  28. Sara

    Perfection! Don’t skip the lemon and fresh herbs at the end.

    Meant to have enough leftovers to freeze a few containers in case we get sick but we ate nearly all of it – eek! Next time I’ll double it.

  29. Ronda

    I made this a few days ago. I used home made stock (from a Costco rotisserie chicken – easiest & tasty!), along with some cooked brown and wild rice I already had. It’s was delicious that night, and even better the next day! Will definitely do again.

  30. snidley274

    Can breast meat be substituted for the thigh meat without sacrificing too much flavor? Given the current state of grocery store inventories, I am unable to find thighs.

  31. Ellen

    This was great. I used brown jasmine rice, so I soaked it a bit before putting it in so the cooking time would come out right, and used some chicken breast tenders I had in the freezer. Thanks — just what our times ordered.

  32. JV

    Utterly delicious and warming, with really complex flavors. And I *was* so proud of myself for making soup for the first time!

  33. Winter storms up on Sugar Bowl left us cooped up in our AirBnB, so I made this chicken soup! It came together magically– we had leftover chicken from a Costco run, and someone had left a bag of Calrose short grain rice at the AirBnB.. all I needed to do was run out to get the loose ingredients to make the stock, much of which also doubled up for the soup itself. FANTASTIC! Because we only anticipated cooking once or twice, I had to make the tough decision of buying only one type of herb for the soup. I chose dill over parsley! (If you haven’t had fresh dill in a chicken soup, please try it). We used the leftover dill for king crab scrambled eggs and toast the next morning.

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe. Always so refreshing to have alternatives for regular dishes to inspire the tired mind.

  34. E

    I made this yesterday and it easily passed inspection by one out of two kids, which is a good ratio around here! ;) I used overnight-soaked farro (I had about half a cup I needed to use up) and added it at the same time as the veggies since it has a longer cook time than rice. Delicious!

  35. JP

    Now that we are self isolated, I am first using up what is in the refrigerator and that included 3 leeks! I had everything else, too, but decided (rather than thawing out chicken) to use a basket (8 ozs) of sliced Baby Bella mushrooms. I just cooked them in a tablespoon of oil while the rest of the soup was cooking and added them when the rice was done. With some lemon zest, juice and chopped parsley, this was delicious for lunch here in chilly California. Thanks for the recipe… I would have made leek potato soup but it was fun to try something new!

  36. Katie Almeida Spencer

    What could I use to approximate leeks? I really want to use them but the stores near me don’t seem to have them right now.

  37. Jo M

    This inspired me to make homemade chicken stock in my Instapot today. I plan to use it to make batches of soup to freeze so if we get sick we can just thaw and heat. Also found a roll of your World Peace cookies left over from holiday baking in my freezer. They baked up just fine. The world (and we who are sheltering at home) could use some chocolate today!

  38. Ann

    I added some ginger and it’s amazing!!! Red chili peppers to top are also a wonderful touch. Thank you for posting this.

  39. snidley274

    I made this yesterday with 3 chicken breasts from my freezer, as thighs, or any other chicken is unavailable in the stores. I added some fresh ginger and rosemary as well. It got raves from my wife, so we’ll be having leftovers for 3 nights.

  40. Made this today for lunch and it was so quick and easy! I happened to have both stock and already cooked chicken leftovers in my freezer from a whole chicken I’d picked clean about a month ago. This meant everything came together fast. I didn’t cook rice to add as I had quinoa in my fridge from dinner on Monday and just portioned that into bowls with the soup poured on top. Tomorrow I’ll probably make however much rice for what’s left (I like the idea of storing it separate to not soak up all of the broth anyway). I chopped kale to stir in at the end for extra veggies (and used the optional carrot as well). Don’t skip the lemon – it makes this dish!

  41. Sasha

    Thank you! I made this with the one package of organic chicken thighs that was left in my store after the panic buying! It was delicious.

  42. jane

    I make a vegetarian version with umami-bomb shitake mushrooms taking the place of chicken, and frozen butter beans, onion, celery, carrot and cabbage boosting the BtB vegetarian base. Sage and tarragon seasoning. So comforting.

  43. sallyt

    This was delicious! You have the best readers/commenters so I took their advice and added about a T of microplaned ginger. My rice took about 20 minutes. Next time I’d add minced lemongrass as well.

    1. deb

      Thank you! Yes. I’m very lucky: I do like the people I’m stuck with. The grocery store nearby isn’t totally depleted, etc. Am I barely getting half my work done this week and do I find it laughable that two parents with full-time jobs working from home are supposed to be homeschooling as well? Unequivocally. How are you all doing?

      1. Liz

        In a fictional book, about life in rural England during WWII:

        “A snooty young woman interviewing a stout matron: ‘so, actually, all you’re doing at the moment is the housework, arranging and cooking meals for your husband, children and evacuees, canteen work, and voluntary fire-watching?'”

        source is “A Presumption of Death” by Jill Payton Walsh.

        But that was reality: 9/1/1939 – 9/2/1945

        Perspective :)

  44. Monica Rae

    Like a true pantry recipe, I had to adapt this to what I had on hand. Bone-in, skin-on thighs and no leeks and skipped the lemon and pepper. It was delicious and I can’t wait for leftovers tonight!

    I added a touch of oil to the hot pot, seared both sides of the thighs, removed them to a plate while I cooked the veggies. Once cooled slightly, I peeled off the skins and added to the pot after the broth. I expected added cooking time with the bones, but they were still cooked through at 20 minutes. Thanks, Deb for another chicken dinner winner!

  45. Jens

    This was fantastic given how easy it was! I used diced, 1″ pieces of chicken so I just left them in the pot when I added the rice, and after 15 minutes both chicken and rice were done. Fresh lemon juice and harissa were wonderful touch! I could make this every week.

  46. Barbara Sigismund

    I made this and it’s incredibly delicious but the clincher is it only took me a moment. I always make stock and I had the leeks, voila. I also made your favorite brownies and I misread the chocolate part and used bittersweet chocolate. They were divine, go figure. Thanks so much for hanging out in the kitchen with us, especially in these challenging times. The cooking keeps me happy.

  47. So, so, so, good! I doubled the recipe and so glad I did. I didn’t change much…except I used meat from a whole chicken, put both boneless breast pieces and bone-in thighs in, just had to separate meat from bone after cooking. I used mostly chicken stock (8 cups) and maybe 1 cup of water. Not much grocery shopping or eating out these days, so it was nice to eat a hearty, springy soup from home (stock and chicken from freezer supply!). Sigh, thank you for continuing to put out yummy recipes even though we’re looking at some really dark times. Cooking (+baking) is the one thing that keeps me going and somewhat sane! (Re: 3-year-old and 8-month-old at home. Sanity is not easy to come by, in general.)

  48. Thanks for the clarifying description of leeks! I bought some at market 2 weeks ago because they were locally grown, but then I just couldn’t figure out how I wanted to use them, haha. Then COVID-19 hit and my mind really went blank. Will be making chicken soup tomorrow with leeks and my home-canned chicken stock and whatever else I find…

  49. Kate

    This was exactly what I wanted. Doubled it and made it with brown mushrooms (to use up what was in the fridge) and wild rice (which maintained most of its tooth for leftovers) and it was fantastic.

    Thank you, Deb!

  50. Kristen

    This was delicious! I had to use short grain rice (sushi rice) because of the pandemic, and had to use extra water. Looking forward to re-making when I can buy jasmine rice!

  51. Sarah Burton

    Delicious and a beautiful color as well. I was inspired to make chicken stock from a rotisserie chicken, a first for me. You are right, it does make a difference. I doubled the amount of rice, used the rotisserie chicken meat, and loaded up on the lemon. This was a bright, filling dinner during a stressful time. Thank you for the recipe.

  52. Renee

    This was so fast to put together! Especially since I still had chicken left. Since I used thyme when I made my stock, I added some to this soup as well. I also added some mushrooms. Definitely a great Sunday meal prep meal for what I’m sure will be a strange week!

  53. Greta

    You never disappoint! So delicious…. comforted our souls in this crazy time. Keep the recipes coming!! Stay safe and be well…❤️

  54. Peggy Shirreffs

    My 14-year old and 11-year old daughters made this for dinner the other night, and it was delicious, nourishing comfort. Thank you so much!

  55. Sejal Patel

    Dreary day, and I wanted to stretch out our refrigerator and pantry items. Used a little less chicken, and only had dried dill and parsley for herbs, but other than that, followed the recipe closely. Everybody enjoyed it! Easy for me to teach my college student next time for a quick dinner when he returns to college next fall.

  56. ES

    In Scotland this soup (chicken, rice, leeks) is called cock-a-leekie soup, and it’s traditionally garnished with chopped-up prunes, which sounds pretty weird but I can promise is really quite tasty!

  57. sinaasappeljetzt

    Dear Deb,
    this recipe fits perfectly in times like this. Soup really is the no. 1 comfort food for me. So, if I can get my hands on rice again I would love to try this out. – It’s so weird how some stuff has just disappeared from the shelves – over here in a city with 1 mio. citizens in western Germany, for some reason it’s rice. We have plenty of other food – but, gosh, how I long to have rice right now…

    Smitten Kitchen Every Day is keeping us good company, I’ve made several recipes over the last weeks and enjoyed every single one :-)

    Be safe and healthy!

  58. Joanne

    I just made this with the turkey stock I found in the bottom of my freezer (shelter in place is good for freezer cleaning). I tipped In some zaatar seasoning at the end since I don’t have any fresh herbs. It is so tasty, and I bet it will be even better tomorrow. Thanks for a great recipe.

    1. Kerri A Campbell

      Am also wondering if there’s a substitute to the chicken. There’s vegetarian “no chicken” broth/stock, but not sure what to replace the actual chicken with.

  59. Karen

    Have made this twice — both times with fresh dill. Delicious and comforting! The version made with turkey stock was the best, as expected. And it was perfect for the dreary weather we had in DC earlier this week. I am now wondering what other standard soups could be improved with leeks …..

  60. Claire

    Delicious. I subbed in some leftover tiny pasta with braised white beans for the rice. Just what we wanted for a chilly CA Sunday supper.

  61. Emily

    This was fantastic — so much more than the sum of its parts. I only had half a pound of boneless chicken thighs and it didn’t matter, still great. I used parsley and a little mint for the herbs. Can’t wait to make this again!

  62. Jenna

    This was delicious! Followed the recipe exactly – a healthy bunch of herbs (did parsley and chives) and a squeeze of lemon made it shine. Will become my go-to chicken soup!

  63. Beth Ann F

    This soup was so good! I used tarragon and parsley to finish the soup. The lemon and lemon zest are also such amazing additions! Will definitely be making this again :)

  64. Mona

    I’m truly blown away by this recipe! It’s so delicious that I immediately went for seconds. Thankfully I bought harissa because it totally ELEVATED the soup. The flavor profile is outstanding and unmatched to any chicken/rice soup I’ve had. First time cooking with leeks and I’m so happy it’s with this recipe. Literally follow the recipe and you cannot go wrong.

  65. Claire

    Why is the combination of dill, lemon, and chicken stock so magical? This was absolutely delicious. Will definitely be making again.

  66. Lara

    Fresh ginger should be up there with the spices – ever since I started adding that, I found chicken soup to be transferred from “goodish” to “amazing”.

  67. KatieK

    I think I have answered my own question: if I’m going to use left-over rice from yesterday’s Easter dinner, I would reduce the amount of water added. A sense of how much? I would put it in after everything is almost done and just add it to warm it up.

  68. Emma S

    This recipe has become a comforting staple in these insane times! Like, maybe the family has debated if making it more than once a week is appropriate 🤣. Survey says yessss. Thaaaaaaank youuuu!!!

  69. KatieK

    This is fantastic!!! Love leeks and they are worth the effort; used two large ones. Made this last night with boneless thighs (my favorite chicken part), used left over white rice–reduced the water to one cup, homemade chicken stock, added a squirt of tomato paste for umami, used Aleppo, don’t skip the lemon and lemon zest, salt is also important, used parsley. Truly wonderful in all ways, thanks Deb.

  70. I love this recipe so much, I’ve made it three times since it was posted. I’m currently self-isolating and managed to make it successfully in a rice cooker! I’ve also made it with chicken breasts and bone-in thighs when boneless thighs were unavailable — the breasts were a bit tough, but fine. Most important: DO NOT SKIP THE TOPPINGS.

  71. Hilary Wyatt

    Excellent lockdown recipe; although I didn’t have loads of leeks – replaced with chard, and wild garlic for your handful of herbs, plus one glass of white wine….perfect!

  72. Meredith

    I made this and my husband declared it the best soup I’ve ever made. I was only a little offended as it was also one of the easier soups I’ve made! My differences: I had 3 cups of parmesan broth left over that I used; I also used 2 cups of chicken bone broth (made a double batch so 8 total cups of chicken stock); the rest of the stock makeup was from a carton. I added carrot and a big spoonful of harissa to the broth so it had a great, slow building spice. Lots of salt is key here. As is the lemon. I used 2 lemons worth of zest and juice- just added it to the whole soup instead of individual bowls.

  73. Anna

    This was the perfect soup for a gray, cloudy day. I’m very grateful for your dinner recipes that require only a handful of ingredients (and would love to see more of them!) — we’re trying to stretch our dollars during this financially difficult time.

    For folks who do not regularly cook with leeks, be sure to clean your leeks well before adding them to the pot! They are often filled with sand and dirt. I like to trim off the root and dark green leaves, cut the leek in half lengthwise, and then thinly slice. I soak the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water and use my fingers to separate the leek layers and remove dirt. I use a slotted spoon to remove the leeks from the water and transfer them to a colander for a final, thorough rinse.

    Also, I made this recipe with Better Than Bouillon chicken base, and it was awesome! Would love to try with homemade chicken stock sometime in the future.

  74. Meryl

    I’ve made this now 3 times. I think that’s a testament to how much I love this soup! I just love the flavor of this soup, it has such a good chicken flavor and rich depth of flavor with all the leeks. It’s the perfect cozy dinner and it just is really delicious and satisfying. I added only 1 tsp of salt and also added another celery stalk bc I wanted more of that flavor in the soup. Also delicious with shaved parm on top!

  75. Stephanie

    Glad to see that the rest of California agrees with me that this sounded like a perfect quarantine recipe. Just made a half batch of this for dinner and I’m thrilled with it. Used some dried thyme and tarragon in the broth, used instant rice since that’s all I had, and finished it with fresh parsley and harissa. Will definitely try it with lemon next time I get my hands on one, but the soup is already perfect without it. Salting and peppering with each addition made a huge impact. Thanks for a great, flexible recipe!

  76. Jennifer

    I bought precooked jasmine rice by mistake and I’m glad I did! It saved the vegetables from turning to mush after all that simmering. Outstanding! I grated lemon zest right into the bowl. Topped with dill and a splash of lemon juice. So good.

  77. Christine Y

    Just made this for lunch today and the kids loved it, too.
    I wasn’t exact with the amounts for leeks and chicken, and it was fine – I think its hard to mess up.

    I also love that I used up a lot of the chicken broth I had saved up– especially lemony broth (boiled what was left of a roast chicken that was stuffed w/ lemons) that was hard to use for other recipes.

    and I replenished some broth by boiling the cleaned leek ends I had chopped off and not used –going into the freezer to add flavor for something else.

    thank you! chicken soup in summer is also a great thing. Especially when it cooks as fast as this one (w/ the boneless/skinless thighs).

  78. kyla

    This was so good! I had roasted chicken thighs already so I just shredded those up & threw in at the end and it was delicious. The lemon zest on top is a really nice touch

  79. JP – Seattle

    I made this tonight and it is sooooo good. I did add rainbow chard, which I steamed separately so it wouldn’t color the soup pink, and added extra carrot as well as a small Walla Walla onion. The lemon zest and juice, herbs, and a sprinkle of harissa rally made it something special. Thanks, Deb!

  80. Tessa

    We love this soup! I make a vegetarian version using small white beans and a little more carrot. I use the “no-chicken” better than bouillon base and it is totally fine. I have also used homemade vegetable stock – worth the effort if you have time to make it. I’ve used vegan chkn strips but honestly did not love that. If you like the faux meat products, though, you might enjoy them in here. The first time I tried this in the instant pot I set it for 17 minutes and it was a disaster so don’t try that at home! Don’t skip the lemon and herbs at the end.

  81. Filipa

    This soup is absolutely delicious…totally foolproof, simple ingredients and so yummy. Definitely adding it to my regular rotation. I used baby spinach for greens and replaced the parsley with coriander. I also added in half a cup of edamame beans. So yummy,thank you!

  82. Jules

    This soup is AMAZING. Such a great result from simple ingredients and minimal prep work. Definitely going in the regular rotation as winter gets here. Remember, chicken soup is good for you – grandma said so!

  83. Gadfly

    I made this in the spring and I loved it. Just finished the freezer stock, so I made it again tonight, and since I use brown rice, thought – why not cook the rice first, then add chicken at the end – and it worked perfectly! After adding the garlic and broth, I added 1/2 cup long grain brown rice, rinsed, and cooked for 25 min., and brought chicken out of the fridge to let it lose a bit of the fridge chill. Added the chicken after 25 min, set the timer for 15 min longer and voila – perfectly tender, juicy chicken and well cooked rice.

  84. Julia Rabkin

    Delicious and easy to make. I used Penzeys Chicken Base to make the broth and jasmine rice. A bowl of this soup and good bread and butter makes a perfect dinner on a winter day.

  85. Loni

    It’s crazy how much my family loves this (especially my 3 year old son). I’ve made it more times than I can count since covid hit. Thank you thank you thank you for this recipe!

  86. Ning

    Hi Deb! Loooong time fan and follower, love your recipes! Do you think this soup would freeze well? My kids are obsessed so I would like to make a large batch and freeze if possible. Thanks!

  87. Sara

    So so good!

    I used some homemade freezer stock, did include the carrot, used jasmine rice, dried basil and dill, and instead of chicken thighs, used some cilantro chicken sausage I had in the freezer, added lemon zest at the end.

    So many other people had said this, but this is so much more than the sum of its parts. Simple, filling, satisfying, exciting, all for a chicken soup! I’m interested to see how I like it as the leftovers turn ‘porridge-y’.

  88. Rebecca

    My sister call this “Shabbat in a Bowl”. It’s magnificent!
    I added some mushrooms that I needed to use-up. Cooked them with the leaks for a little longer than the recipe specified. They were a nice touch.

  89. TennD

    Made this tonight with the celery and carrot, had 1.5 lbs of thighs and just threw them in and upped the water and salt and it was great. Already had leftover brown rice so did not add any to the broth and just gave the broth 15 min to cook while shredding chicken and then spooned it all over the rice. So flavorful for such a simple dish, great for a wintry evening!

  90. TerryB

    I just put the ingredients on my list. A local pizza place has an Iranian owner / chef and he makes a soup that seems just like this, with dill and lemon on the side. Its called Mona Lisa Soup.

  91. Lee-Anne

    This has become a staple in my home. I must make it once a month, every season. I use chicken breast and brown rice to make it slightly healthier, and it’s just soooo good. Do not forget the lemon; it’s critical!

  92. Susan zell

    Turned cold today and this recipe motivated me to prepare it. I love leeks and this was a perfect combination. Well worth the effort. Thanks, Deb!

  93. Susan

    This was spectacular. With lemon rind, a little juice, chives and dill. Squeeze of harissa paste.
    Re the chicken wings being dry- my doggo disagrees🐶.

  94. Susan Brown

    This was amazing soup. Total agreement about the broth. The only complaint about the recipe is from my dog Izzy. She thought the chicken wing meat was absolutely fine, not at all dry.

  95. I almost always make this after a roasted chicken and a round of instapot broth. A friend that does the same recommended the soup. The leeks really add to the flavor. The rice is easy. Sometimes I vary the grain, but it’s really best per the recipe.

  96. JP—Seattle

    Made this again tonight with just a couple switch ups – no celery, so used extra carrot and a shallot, then added broccoli towards the end; making it with a mix of brown and wild rice meant I had to cook it longer, which I didn’t really think through when I decided “oh, wild rice, yum!” But, it is still so very good. Thanks, Deb!

  97. Liz

    Just had the coziest weeknight soup adventure- cooked the rice (brown) separately so as to keep it brothy for a work lunch tomorrow. Thank you!

  98. SR

    Made this last night for my partner who isnt feeling well and it turned out great! I used wild rice and ended up simmering that for a total of 45 minutes. I also added a little more broth today bc he likes his soup a little thinner. Thanks!!!

  99. Jenna Dornblaser

    This is hands-down, without a doubt, no questions asked, my new favorite chicken soup. It’s so herby and comforting and peppery. Yum. It’s the perfect soup hug.

  100. Rachel Joy

    Hi Deb! Do you rinse your rice before adding to the soup? We lived in Korea so are very much in the habit of rinsing rice before cooking it, but I’m wondering what you do? I wonder if leaving it not-rinsed adds some thickness or something to the consistency. My family has been loving this soup, I’ve made it twice a month since New Year! THANK You! And such a great option for my celiac sisters. That lemon, it’s genius. So simple but it takes this soup to the next level!

  101. Della Craig

    I’m making this again (for the umpteenth time) as I’m having a ladies luncheon tomorrow. Yes, there will be wine too and something chocolate! My favorite soup right now is this one. Delicious, fast and easy. Nailed it again Smitten Kitchen. Thank you.

  102. Richard A

    I made this recipe today, slightly altered to accommodate my Keto diet. Reducing the lemon juice and substituting keto friendly konjac rice or cauliflower rice, the net carbs per serving came down to 9. Refreshing soup.

  103. I made this last night, using homemade broth, and whilst delicious, was not as bright green looking as yours; mine defs has a gold tinge. I wonder if accidentally letting the leeks get the tiniest bit of brown on them did the trick (I walked away for A SECOND!)

  104. Laura

    This is my favorite soup recipe, and I make double batches at least once a month for lunches. It’s tasty, filling, low calorie, and the ingredients are always in stock (I prefer using parsley and dill as my herbs of choice). I love using wild rice, and when I double the recipe I just throw in all the herbs, and the zest and juice of one lemon into the pot at the end before portioning it out for freezing individual containers for lunches. Definitely a keeper!

  105. Joohyun

    My chicken soup is turning out a lot darker than it looks in the photos in the recipe! The soup ends up being a dark brown broth. The broth turns dark once I add the chicken in. I’m using boneless skinless chicken. I also get a lot of foam on the broth surface once the chicken goes in. Any tips on how to keep the broth light and clear?

  106. Kelly Goodpastor

    One of our all-time favorites from Deb. My entire family adores this one, and my 6YO daughter literally had three servings the first time I made it. As a bonus, Deb finally taught me how to make homemade stock without needing a specific recipe to do so. We used her “I promise this will still work if you don’t want an actual recipe” version, and it’s lovely. Thanks to the reader who suggesting doubling and freezing. Will do so tonight when we make it… nice to have future meals as a gift to self ready to go.

  107. Lindsay

    Hi, can this be made without the rice? I’m looking for a way to make it low carb. What do you suggest subbing in for the rice? Thanks!

    1. Laura

      I love it with wild rice (is that lower carb than regular?) In any event, I don’t think any of the flavor comes from the rice, so it should be fine without it (although it will also be less filling.)

  108. Shelley

    Delicious results here with the 4 cups stock I made from the Thanksgiving turkey carcass ! There was also just enough turkey left on the bones, so I didnt add any additional protein. I did add a pinch of sage to keep in the holiday mood 😉 this recipe definitely goes on the will-make-it-again list !

  109. Laura Crocenzi

    This was so simple and cozy and delicious. I was short of time and feeling lazy so did end up using a boxed broth. Even so, I love this! I used fresh dill and chives. Easy to make and doesn’t take long at all to prepare.
    Can’t wait for the leftovers!

  110. Ruth

    As I finished reading the recipe, I opened the freezer to see if I had any celery (I grow it and freeze in little containers)… and a container fell out, narrowly missing my foot. 😬

  111. Eliza

    If you have leftover Thanksgiving turkey, this is the perfect way to use it! I doubled the recipe and used 1.75 lbs of leftover shredded turkey and 1 cup of brown rice. So delicious. I also subbed one large red onion for the leeks and did 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.

  112. Camille

    It was divine. I used chicken stock in my freezer that I had made a while back from cornish game hen carcasses. The only thing I changed was I felt kinda weird about plopping raw chicken in soup, so I browned the chicken first in the same pot I would make the soup in, removed it, then added it back in later. Maybe an extra step, but seemed to work just fine. Also don’t omit the lemon juice/zest at the end, it really added the “acid” element.

  113. Johanne

    My husband has made this several times since I first discovered the recipe back in October. It is so good, so good I could cry! He makes his own stock that is delicious on its own and makes the house smell amazing while he’s making it. The lemon zest is such a nice touch. Thanks for sharing so many amazing recipes, my husband makes many of them.

  114. Sarah

    I’ve made this several times, but with veggie stock and potatoes instead of chicken stock and chicken. It’s SO good and always a hit if I make it for a group. It’s so good with a homemade crusty bread. I don’t even bother looking for recipes on other websites at this point. SK is always the best :)

  115. Cathleen

    I loved this soup so, so much. My husband liked the flavors but as a Pakistani who grew up with perfectly formed basmati rice as the ideal and mushy rice as a failure, he can’t get into the rice aspect. If I were to sub in egg noodles instead, what quantity would you recommend and how would you suggest cooking them in? For reference, the bag I have at home says to cook for 7-8 minutes.

  116. Devin Salazar

    I made a delicious tweak to the recipe-instead of 2c water I added 2c ginger tea. It lends a really nice, complimentary flavor and extra warmth to the soup.

  117. Jill

    If I want to make this the night before, how do I ensure the rice doesn’t get too porridgy? Do I add cooked rice just before eating?

  118. alice

    The key to soups like this with store bought broth is to remember that they likely didn’t use the carrots, onion, garlic and random herbs that were on your chicken dish before you made it into stock, so you need those ingredients to make the dish taste better. Try dicing the above with some rosemary and/or thyme and add those to your leeks.

  119. Barbara

    This has become one of my signature soups–it is delicious and comforting! I tweak bits now and then, but the change I ALWAYS make is to substitute 1/3 cup barley for the 1/2 cup rice. Of course, barley needs to be added earlier since it takes so much longer to cook than rice.

  120. Lauren V

    I made this last night with a bunch of small leeks that were drying out in my fridge as well a freezer burned package of chicken thighs and it was delicious! I also used my Instant Pot because I love being able to turn it on and leave the house. I sauteed the leeks, celery and carrot in the pot, added the garlic then all of the broth, water and chicken with generous grinds of pepper, kosher salt and some pink salt. Set that for 10 minutes manual, left the house, came back, removed the chicken, stirred in the rice, reset the pressure for 4 minutes, chopped up the chicken, when it was done, released the pressure, added in the chicken, some dill, some dried parsley and dried chives (didn’t have fresh handy), lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes. Served with a good squeeze of lemon juice and a chopped up hard boiled egg. Great recipe on a cool fall day!

  121. Karen SB

    As with all Deb’s recipes, I followed this soup recipe exactly the first time. I was tempted to substitute brown rice…next time. Super simple, fast and delicious. Do not skimp on the fresh herbs & lemon rind.

  122. Kelly

    I made my own turkey stock for the first time after Christmas but alas, no leftover turkey as it all went in sandwiches! So I’ve been hunting for the recipe to showcase the stock – this was perfect. Top tip for family members who might be skeptical of leeks – throw them in the food processor so they’re chopped very fine. With the rice, they’re almost indistinguishable. The only change I made with using chicken breast as that’s what I made in. Will definitely make this again. Don’t skip the lemon at the end, really brightens it.

    Has anyone tried freezing this? Would the rice get weird?

  123. Jane

    This came up right when I was craving something soothing after the holiday indulgences. Added bonus: I received 3 BUNCHES of leeks in my grocery order, instead of just 3 leeks. So good. I can see why this came out during the pandemic-the ultimate comfort food!