Chicken & Wild Rice Chowder with Bacon and Chives

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As one of my friends recently mentioned on Facebook: “You had me at bacon.”   Indeed, bacon is what makes this already indulgent soup even more decadent.   Should I mention there’s butter involved in the process as well or will that scare some of you away?  Oh yes, and half and half.    But note I served mine in a coffee mug (portion control), and I am back on the wagon this morning with my bran cereal and a trip to the gym.  So there!

For those interesting in a lighter version, please feel free to use turkey bacon and substitute 2% milk for the half and half.  You could possibly cut back on the butter as well, but keep in mind that you will also have to cut back equally on the flour, thus reducing the thickness of the soup.

Time saving tips include purchasing cooked, packaged chicken and pre-cooked bacon.  Additionally, you can substitute cooked turkey if that’s what you happen to have on hand.  The bottom line is that there are options  here to tailor this soup to your needs, to make it your own.

Ah, and now I hear the sound of the eliptical calling my name.  Until next time my friends, may your mugs be always full of delicious soup like this!

Chicken & Wild Rice Chowder with Bacon and Chives

3 (10 3/4oz ) cans condensed chicken broth

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed

1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp poultry seasoning

Pinch of white or black pepper

2 cups half-and-half

1 1/2   –  2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken or turkey (see NOTE below on how to poach chicken)

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve some of the bacon for garnish)

1 TBS finely chopped fresh chives

Few drops of dry sherry (optional)

  • In a large 4-qt saucepan, combine chicken broth and water.  Add wild rice and green onions.  Bring to a boil, then reduce and cover.  Simmer 40-45 minutes or until rice is tender.  Note there will be additional broth in the pan.  Do not drain!
  • In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Stir in flour, salt, seasoning and a few dashes of pepper.  Cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbling.
  • Gradually stir in half and half into the roux and cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.  Then add the creamy mixture back into the saucepan with the rice and broth. Add cooked chicken and bacon.  Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, until soup has thickened, about thirty minutes.  If soup becomes too thick, thin it out with a little extra chicken stock.
  • Adjust seasonings and serve, garnishing with chopped chives, a little extra chopped bacon and a few drops of dry sherry (if desired).

Serves 6-8

How to Poach Chicken

Two things to keep in mind when poaching chicken: low and slow.  Never let your liquid get above a simmer or you’ll toughen the chicken.  I use one package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and approximately three cups of chicken stock.  You can certainly use plain water, but I think the stock gives it a little extra flavor.  I also like to throw in a teaspoon or so of fresh or dried herbs (Penzey’s Bouquet Garni Seasoning is perfect for this) and also a pinch or two of Kosher salt.

Put everything in a wide saucepan and bring just to a boil.  Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and gently simmer the chicken for 15-20 minutes.  Then remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered for ten minutes.  Remove chicken from pan and use as needed.  If you are storing chicken in fridge for later use, place in a sealed container with a few tablespoons or so of the poaching liquid to keep it moist.

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